Daytona Beach, FL - This morning's 8:30 a.m. practice session for the True Value IROC series was put on hold pending the dissipation of heavy fog. "It's as thick as pea soup right now, " said test driver, Jim Sauter. "No sooner than it looks...
Daytona Beach, FL - This morning's 8:30 a.m. practice session for the True Value IROC series was put on hold pending the dissipation of heavy fog. "It's as thick as pea soup right now, " said test driver, Jim Sauter. "No sooner than it looks like it's about to clear up, it rolls back in." At 9:30 a.m., NASCAR officials jumped in the pace car to take a few laps around the track in order to determine the level of visibility and amount of moisture on the surface.
Conditions were looking better and the call went out to get the drivers ready. 2000 True Value IROC Champion, Dale Earnhardt jumped into the red Pontiac Firebird Trans AM test car, CART driver, Kenny Brack got into the powder blue test car, NASCAR's Ricky Rudd strapped in the black car, 2000 Busch Champion Jeff Green readied in the dark blue car, test drivers, Andy Hillenburg in the rose car, Jim Sauter in the silver car, Dave Marcis in the black car and Dick Trickle in the aqua car. Word came in from NASCAR race control that the fog worsened and the session was put back on hold.
Earnhardt started getting antsy and the radio banter began:
Earnhardt: "We can go! We'll stay close together and in sight of each other. These things have fog lights, don't they? How are you doing back there Kenny Brack?"
Brack: "Doing pretty good Dale. I've been out (in the cars) a few times and it's been going pretty good. Do you think you will show me a few of your tricks out here today?"
Earnhardt: "You've gotta stay behind me in order to learn 'em."
Brack: (Laughing) Yeah, I guess so, and that is probably how it's going to be (in the race) huh? I've got to get in behind you."
Earnhardt: "Yeah, you can stay behind me, that'll work out all right."
Brack: (Laughing) "OK Dale."
Rudd: "This is Ricky Rudd in the black car, how are you today Dale and Kenny Brack?"
Earnhardt: "Doing OK here Ricky."
Brack" "Doing fine, thank you Mr. Rudd."
Rudd: (Surprised) "Mister Rudd? Wow!"
Earnhardt: "Yeah Ricky, that's what happens when you get that gray hair coming in. They start calling you mister and senior. Since I got my kid doing this they've been treating me like a senior citizen."
Rudd: "Well, I guess you start feeling that way when you've got 20-years on some of these guys."
Brack: "No, I think it is just that we do it out of respect for you, you know?"
Earnhardt: "Well, you just be sure to remember that respect thing during the race."
Rudd: "Yeah, somehow I don't think it's gonna quite work out that way, right Kenny?"
Brack: "Well . . . "
(Laughter erupted between all three).
The final "go-ahead" came from NASCAR race control and the practice session got underway. "It's good to run under these conditions, no direct sun and high humidity, so, you can see how the race would be under cooler, damp conditions, " said IROC President, Jay Signore. "With the fog taking so long to lift our 55-minute session will be only 10-minutes."
The on track activity, with passing and multiple car drafting, was an exciting preview of what to expect this Friday when the green flag falls. Earnhardt came in all smiles as he exited the car; "Feels good, everything's good here Jay."
Ricky Rudd said his car was good too and he discussed the chassis set up with Signore and the crew. Brack listened intently and added a few observations that Rudd agreed with. "It helps us a great deal when the series drivers get in and run," said Signore. "Our test drivers are in these cars every day and they become accustomed to the feel of the cars. When the series driver get in and drive, they're new to the car, and the setup, so, it's important to get their comments. When the series driver's feedback echo's the test drivers, you know you're in good shape and haven't become accustomed to an ill-handling race car."
The True Value IROC 25th anniversary season will commence with race one at the Daytona International Speedway on Friday, February 16, 2001, at 1:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN Sunday, February 18 at 5:00 p.m. ET.