HAMPTON, Ga. (March 20, 2006) -- BILL LESTER COMPLETES FIRST CUP RACE: Bill Lester completed a life long dream of his, to compete in the highest level of NASCAR competition. Lester commented on his first race as NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series ...
HAMPTON, Ga. (March 20, 2006) -- BILL LESTER COMPLETES FIRST CUP RACE: Bill Lester completed a life long dream of his, to compete in the highest level of NASCAR competition. Lester commented on his first race as NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver:
"Well it was actually really cool to be out there with the best drivers racing in a stock car. I don't really deserve the attention I am getting. I am looking forward to the time when racing is about racing not race. I am really excited to have the opportunity to live my dream and race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, my hometown track. It has been indescribable. Racing 500 miles with the fuel and tire run was a good experience for me. I was able to bring it home in one piece. I'm looking forward to running more races."
(One of your goals today was to gain the respect of these drivers. Do you think you were able to accomplish that goal?) "There were opportunities for me to take chances that I don't think would have been worth it. At the end I got four tires and fuel and could have passed Mark Martin, but chose to stay out of the way. I didn't want to cause an incident and make the other drivers fearful of racing with me. I want them to feel comfortable around me. Some of the most important things I learned out here were the driving characteristics and tactics from the drivers I competed against. That is information I am going to carry with me to future races."
(Your car has a scrape on the side of it. It looks like you got into the wall. Can you tell us about that?) "One of the handling issues we battled was the car being tight in the center off. I had a couple minor scrapes with the wall, wearing off Goodyear on the side of the tires. I took it deep into turns one and two and the front jumped out. I brushed the wall, giving myself an Atlanta Motor Speedway stripe. I learned a lot about the surface. It got slicker and slicker as more rubber was put down. The thing that was cool was racing with these guys and learning some tricks of the trade."
(How do you feel about Toyota having so many openings next year for drivers? Did today help getting you considered to being one of their drivers next year?) "The fact of the matter is I want to gain experience in the Nextel Cup series so that I can be considered for a ride. I would like nothing more than to drive a Toyota car in Nextel Cup."
(The next couple of races for you are at Michigan and California. Do you think that what you were able to do today will help add to that number?) I can only hope. I kept my nose clean for the most part. I ran a smart race. I wasn't out there in contention, but that was the first time I drove a Nextel Cup car. So I hope that everyone keeps that in mind. I know I learned so much today that I can take with me to Michigan that is going to make me so much better. I can't wait for June. I think it was a good day. I didn't get a top twenty like I wanted. These drivers have been racing for a long time. I got a late start in my career and I am trying my best to catch up as quickly as I can."
(Was there any one thing that caught you by surprise?) "Well, probably the biggest thing I got out of it from the beginning was that if you don't hold your ground you are going to be taken advantage of quickly. I ran up in the high groove, but I got to really work on holding the car down. Otherwise, you are going to get railroaded. I am going to work on making the car hug the bottom."
(In your own mind, who did you represent today?) "I represented myself. I am doing this for my family and myself. I am glad that the minority community took an interest. However, I am driving for myself. At the end of the day, if it wasn't for me I wouldn't be here."