Lepage gets valuable Martinsville test time

MARTINSVILLE, VA. (March 27, 2001) – Fifteen Winston Cup drivers were at Martinsville Speedway Tuesday for a test session. None of them needed it more than Kevin Lepage. And the need for Martinsville testing had nothing to do...

MARTINSVILLE, VA. (March 27, 2001) – Fifteen Winston Cup drivers were at Martinsville Speedway Tuesday for a test session. None of them needed it more than Kevin Lepage. And the need for Martinsville testing had nothing to do with Lepage’s driving ability. It’s all about his surroundings. Lepage made his first start in the Morgan-McClure Motorsports Kodak Chevrolet Sunday in the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. That start came a couple of days after the team had released driver Robby Gordon, which meant Lepage had zero seat time in the Kodak car before the first practice session at Bristol. And that’s why the Martinsville test session, which will continue Wednesday in preparation for the Virginia 500 on April 8, is so important to Lepage and the Morgan-McClure team. “This is only our second week of working together and I’m just trying to understand what a Chevy Monte Carlo wants here at Martinsville,” said Lepage, who finished 15th in his initial start for Morgan-McClure last Sunday. “I’ve been here the last two or three years, but I was in a Ford then and a Chevy is a bit different. So I think this test is really going to pay off in the long run.” Lepage did a lot of car-hopping early in Tuesday’s test session, moving between two Kodak cars the team had brought. By early afternoon the team had settled on what they thought was the best car. “We’ve been trying two different cars and have come to the conclusion which one I want to drive and we’ve been working hard on it to make it better,” said Lepage. “And we trying to get good communication between me and (crew chief) David Ifft and all the guys on the Kodak team. We’re trying to get a decent setup under the car so when we come back here we can be pretty good.” A couple of days removed from his first Winston Cup victory, Elliott Sadler was working hard for the second straight day on getting the Wood Brothers Motorcraft Ford dialed in for the April 8th Virginia 500. “It’s been a typical Martinsville day, just trying to go through the motions, trying to get in to handle in the transition from cement to asphalt,” said Sadler, who won the Food City 500 at Bristol Sunday. “I’m pretty optimistic. I think we’ve got a lot of momentum on our team. We’re a lot better this test session than we’ve ever been here. I feel really comfortable on the long runs. That’s something we haven’t worked much on in the past. I’m comfortable with the stuff we’ve got in the car for the long runs.” Like many of the drivers testing Tuesday, Kenny Wallace alternated between two cars, using each of the two Eel River Racing Pontiacs for something different. “We’ve got two cars here and they’re both really good,” said Wallace, who won the pole for the Virginia 500 in 1997. “We’ve been going back and fourth with a good balance from qualifying to the race. The track is in excellent shape now because there are a lot of cars here and there’s a lot of rubber being laid down and that helps our test tremendously.” Drivers testing at Martinsville Speedway Tuesday included Elliott Sadler, Hermie Sadler, Steve Park, Kenny Wallace, Buckshot Jones, Andy Houston, Kevin LePage, Mark Martin, Johnny Benson, Jeremy Mayfield, Kevin Harvick, Jerry Nadeau, Jeff Gordon, Jason Leffler and Kurt Busch. All but Elliott Sadler and Park will be back again Wednesday for the final day of testing before the Virginia 500

The Virginia 500/Advance Auto Parts 250 weekend kicks off with Bud Pole qualifying for the Craftsman Truck Series at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, April 6 followed by time trials for the Winston Cup Series at 3 p.m. Tickets for qualifying are $15 for adults and children under 12 get in free. Tickets for the Advance Auto Parts 250 Craftsman Truck race are $30 for adults and $5 for children ages 6-12. All seats are unreserved.

There still are great seats available for the Virginia 500 NASCAR Winston Cup race for $40-$70 each. To purchase tickets call the speedway ticket office toll free at 877-722-3849 or go online at www.martinsvillespeedway.com.

-MS

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Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Jeremy Mayfield , Steve Park , Jason Leffler , Kevin Harvick , Kenny Wallace , Kevin Lepage , Robby Gordon , Jerry Nadeau , Buckshot Jones , Andy Houston , Kurt Busch , Johnny Benson , Hermie Sadler , Elliott Sadler , Mark Martin