ANDY GRAVES, Senior Manager for TRD (Toyota Racing Development) U.S.A. in NASCAR Nextel Cup Series competition: How are the Toyota teams performing in the test so far at Richmond? "I think several of our teams are doing pretty well and are in...
ANDY GRAVES, Senior Manager for TRD (Toyota Racing Development) U.S.A. in NASCAR Nextel Cup Series competition:
How are the Toyota teams performing in the test so far at Richmond? "I think several of our teams are doing pretty well and are in the top-20, while there are some others scattered throughout the chart. It's just another stepping stone in the process of trying to understand the COT at another venue. This is a new track for us with this car and we are looking to make small gains each and every day."
Are you seeing any large-scale differences between COT here versus Bristol and Martinsville? "It's pretty much the same battles that all the teams are fighting -- trying to make sure the attitude of the car is right and getting the mechanical balance right on the aero side. Every test that we attend and every day that we spend with these cars is a step forward. Our teams are doing a good job of learning and making small gains each and every day to move forward. We'll just keep attacking it and working on it; hopefully by the time the test is over, we'll have made a good step and go home to think about how we can improve. We want to come back for the race and hopefully be more competitive than we were at Martinsville."
JEREMY MAYFIELD, No. 36 360 OTC Toyota Camry, Bill Davis Racing:
How has your car been in testing today? "The car has been all right in practice. We haven't really found anything that's helped us a lot, but we haven't really found a lot that will hurt us either. We're running through a lot of stuff, just trying to find something. We've been throwing a lot of things at this car, trying to find things that will get us going in the right direction. But the test has gone all right for us at this point."
Is this a car you have previously raced? "This is the same car that we ran at Martinsville and we're just trying to get it figured out. There are a lot of things that we're going over, some things that we already know, but we just want to make sure that we know what works and what doesn't work. We're still struggling a little bit, but time will tell. I think we're definitely gaining on it."
How is today's test session going for your team? "Today's test is going pretty well; we're off to a bit of a slow start. Obviously we've made a lot of changes today and we haven't seen exactly what we would have liked to. But that's what we're here for, to test and to learn. AJ (Allmendinger) is making laps and that's what's important right now. This is our third COT car, both the Bristol and Martinsville cars are being repaired so we're trying them all out right now."
What are your thoughts on AJ's (Allmendinger) experience that he's gained the past two weeks? "AJ (Allmendinger) is doing a great job and has done a great job at these short tracks in gaining experience and running laps. We couldn't be any happier with what he's doing. We are just trying to get better as far as a team. We are a brand new team and we are making gains, but it's not something where we are hitting on it all the time. But they are not excuses, they are reasons. We had some motor problems at California and Atlanta, we should have made it in Las Vegas, and we got wrecked in Daytona. But then we made the last two races. We try to look at everything from week to week and see the positive in it. And right now we just need to get better at Richmond and everything will be fine."
KEVIN HAMLIN, Crew Chief, No. 22 Caterpillar Toyota Camry, Bill Davis Racing:
How has today's test session gone for your team? "We're not too bad really; we haven't worked on a lot except for the travel on this car. The travel is so sensitive on these cars with the splitter on the front. We've been working really hard on that, in fact that's all we've really worked on so far has been the front of the car. We haven't worked on anything else at all, we're on 70- lap old tires and still running pretty good times."
Were you able to bring lessons with COT from Bristol or Martinsville here to Richmond? "Martinsville is a whole different animal and we didn't do a real good job there. We didn't do a great job at the test in Bristol, but when we went back to race we were pretty good for most of the day. For the most part we've learned from every outing with these cars and each time out we find more little things that we can work on to get better. We have to focus on certain areas, like right now we're on the front of the car and we're trying to gain as much information and data as possible. This way when we head back to the shop, the engineers can sort through all that and tell us what we need to do."
JOHNNY BENSON, No. 46 Jack Wyler Toyota Camry, Wyler Racing:
How has today's test session gone for you?
"I'm pretty excited about being here, that's for sure. Tony Furr and the guys are doing a great job. We've come a long way from where we unloaded to now. They've made adjustments that have just made this thing really nice to drive. I've been happy so far with how the test is going, that's for sure."
With this being your first experience with the COT, what are your thoughts? "It's not as bad as what you hear. They're actually a lot of fun to drive. When you look at it, there are some irritating spots where you wish it would turn better in these areas. But until you run these things at different places, you just have to keep working to get things figured out. It's only been two races now, although I'm sure a lot of these teams have been testing with them a fair amount. We don't feel like we're way off at all. But the COT is not bad, are there areas where they could improve? Absolutely. But as they run them and get them figured out, it'll get better and better. But I've been real happy with the test for sure."
DAVID REUTIMANN, driver of the No. 00 Domino's Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing:
How has today's test session gone for you? "At one point in the afternoon we felt like we were decent and we just kept throwing things at it. Then we got to the point where the car just wasn't really happy anymore. Sometimes you have to stop and step back. A lot of times these tests are more about what not to do instead of what you can do. I think we were pretty decent at one point today and we're going to go in a totally different direction in tonight's session. We have this five-page list of things we want to try and if we don't start trying things pretty soon, we'll never make it through the list. We're going to keep working through it and see what we can find that will help us a little more."
What types of differences to you see here with COT versus what you experienced at Bristol and Martinsville? "They do feel like they are a lot harder to make rotate through the center compared to Bristol and Martinsville. I tested here with the Busch cars last weekend and that was a totally different deal. The temperatures were a lot cooler, but I definitely feel like the Busch cars go through the centers of the corners a lot better. Again, this place is pretty temperature sensitive so I'm sure that also has a lot to do with it. A lot of guys I've watched are going through the corners pretty far off the bottom and I think they want to be down on the bottom, but they just can't get there. I'm sure some guys are running around the bottom and those are the guys on the top of the speed chart."
-credit: toyota motorsports