HOMESTEAD, Fla., (Oct. 26, 2000) -- Stacy Compton was not just testing two No. 9 Melling Racing Fords on Thursday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, he was also breaking in his new crew chief -- Chad Knaus. Knaus joined Melling Racing earlier this...
HOMESTEAD, Fla., (Oct. 26, 2000) -- Stacy Compton was not just testing two No. 9 Melling Racing Fords on Thursday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, he was also breaking in his new crew chief -- Chad Knaus.
Knaus joined Melling Racing earlier this week after working at Evernham Motorsports as manager of the Dodge development program. Knaus also performed body and chassis construction for Hendrick Motorsports under Ray Evernham between 1993-97.
"I worked with Chad at Kentucky when we tested Ray's Dodge and really liked the way we worked together," Compton said. "He's young. He's got some really good ideas. We came down here and it's really our first chance to work together and so far, it's been great.
"Both of us are real excited about how it's going. We're making huge gains every time we go out. It's a good chance for us to work together before Phoenix and race conditions. Everybody is really happy with the progress."
Compton believes he can find driver/crew chief magic with Knaus and hopes that will produce a solid finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The Hurt, Va., native has some experience on the 1.5-mile South Florida facility. He competed in last year's inaugural Pennzoil 400 as part of his limited Winston Cup schedule and finished 30th. He also finished third in the 1999 Craftsman Truck Series race and sixth in 1998 Truck Series event.
"This place has been pretty good to us," said Compton, a Winston Cup Rookie of the Year candidate. "I like this place. I like flat tracks." Compton was pleased with his times during the test and hopes that will translate into a solid qualifying run for the Pennzoil 400.
"Anything can happen at anytime," Compton said. "With the times we're running right now, I feel real good. Hopefully, when we come back, we can have a little luck and nothing will go wrong. We don't want to get overconfident, but with the times we're running, we can get in the top15 in qualifying." Joining Compton on the final day of NASCAR Winston Cup testing Included Rick Mast, Bobby Labonte, Tony Stewart, Joe Nemechek and Scott Pruett.
Fans still have an opportunity to purchase great seats for both the Nov. 11 Miami 300 and the Nov. 12 Pennzoil 400 by calling (305) 230-RACE, by visiting any Ticketmaster Ticket Center, or by ordering online at the official Speedway web site, www.homesteadmiamispeedway.com or www.ticketmaster.com
* Bobby Labonte, who has a 201-point lead in the Winston Cup points standings, continued working toward his first Winston Cup title by concluding a two-day test at Homestead-Miami Speedway with his No. 18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac.
Labonte, whose brother Terry won the 1984 and 1996 Winston Cup titles, knows what it's like to win a championship. He won the 1991 NASCAR Busch Series championship.
"There are some things, but it's not really the same thing as it was then," Labonte said. "I think $750,000 was our budget then where $750,000 won't get you to Daytona this season."
* Perhaps no driver has logged more testing miles at Homestead-Miami Speedway than Scott Pruett, who was Firestone's primary test driver for former CART Champ Car races at the circuit.
Thursday, Pruett took the approach of a NASCAR rookie when he drove his first laps in the PPI McDonald's Busch Series car
"I've been coming here since the track opened, for all three configurations," Pruett explained. "I've put in a lot of miles here testing. But those miles testing a Champ Car do not apply here (running a stock car). In a Champ Car, we ran flat all the way around in qualifying. But you've got to lay off the gas in a stock car. "I'm finding my way around right now, trying to find the right balance. We're still looking to pick up some time."
* Ironically, the Firestone test truck pulled into the paddock on Thursday in preparation for the initial Indy Racing Series test in Miami, which will begin on Friday. Set to do the inaugural Indy Racing testing are Greg Ray for Team Menard and Mark Dismore for Kelley Racing, in initial preparations for the April 8, 2001 Grand Prix of Miami.