Charlotte: GM Racing preview

Team Chevy Silverado Ready to Rumble Under the Lights Charlotte, NC - Team Chevy Silverado returns to action under the bright lights of Lowe's Motor Speedway (LMS) on the heels of a promising three-day test at Chicagoland Speedway. The 134-lap...

Team Chevy Silverado Ready to Rumble Under the Lights

Charlotte, NC - Team Chevy Silverado returns to action under the bright lights of Lowe's Motor Speedway (LMS) on the heels of a promising three-day test at Chicagoland Speedway. The 134-lap Quaker Steak and Lube 200 is the first of a nine-race stretch for the Bowtie drivers in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS).

"We had a great test at Chicagoland Speedway last week," said Dayne Pierantoni, GM Racing Silverado program manager. "We spent three full days on the track with our Chevrolet Silverados. It was good to get some extra track time since we are so limited due to our testing policy. Our teams spent quite a bit of time working on chassis setups. There are a few different approaches out there right now and we are trying to get a better understanding of our different options. I believe that we made gains in several areas. We are looking forward to going to Charlotte to apply what we've learned."

Silverado drivers Kyle Busch and Dennis Setzer have won the last two events on the 1.5-mile oval just northeast of downtown Charlotte North Carolina, considered home to the majority of the teams competing in NASCAR's big-three series.

Busch will make his first NCTS appearance of 2006 to defend his 2005 victory in the No. 51 National Land Liquidators/B & G General Store/Manheim Central Fla. Auto Auction/Manheim's Orange Co. Auto Auctions Silverado fielded again by Billy Ballew Motorsports.

"I'm just really excited to get back into the truck series for the first time this year with Billy Ballew Motorsports," said Busch. "It's the place where I got my first truck series win and I always tend to run well at Lowe's. It will be some fun and also will be good to get some more track time on the new pavement to prepare for the weekend of the '600'."

Setzer's factory-sponsored No. 85 Chevy Silverado from the Morgan-Dollar Motorsports stable will carry the bright blue and white Shell ROTELLA® T colors in his quest to capture his second victory on the banked newly paved tri-oval.

"We have had really good trucks at Charlotte in the past.but only have the one win to show for our efforts," said Setzer. "We just got through with testing at Chicagoland Speedway and were happy with the results. Our guys should be able to relate some of what we learned there to Lowe's (Motor Speedway).

The most critical aspect and also the complete unknown is the new surface on the track. After attempts to levigate the track weren't as successful as hoped, LMS officials undertook the task of applying a complete new surface. Immediately following the last of the 2005 NASCAR events, the old track was dug up and a complete new paved racing surface was laid down.

As a result of NASCAR's new testing policy, NCTS teams have not been on the track since the renovation. Goodyear is bringing a tire designed specifically for the new surface that was tested by both NASCAR Nextel Cup Series and NASCAR Busch Series teams, but remains an unknown to the NCTS teams.

To acclimate NCTS to both the new surface and the tire, NASCAR has scheduled a one-day open practice on Thursday, May 18 from 11:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

"I liked the "old" Charlotte," said Mike Bliss, No. 16 IWX Silverado. "I like tracks with character and Lowe's had character. Now it will be another one of the fast, smooth 1.5-mile tracks we run. I will miss the track the way it was, it was part of who was and wasn't successful there. You had to figure it out and race the track."

An open practice for NCTS competitors will be held on Thursday, May 18, 2006 from 11:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Practice for the Quaker Steak and Lube will begin Friday at 9:15 a.m. with a rookie-only session schedules for 10:20 a.m. and then final practice at 10:50 a.m. Qualifying will begin at 4:15 p.m. after which all trucks qualified for the race will be impounded until the 8:45 p.m. start time. SPEED TV, MRN Radio and XM Satellite radio will bring the live action to fans across the country.

Driver Quotes

DRIVER: DENNIS SETZER
TEAM: No. 85 Chevrolet Shell Rotella®T Silverado - Morgan Dollar Motorsports

At Lowe's the winners have had huge amounts of experience both in the series and at the racetrack. You won the race in 2004 and Ted Musgrave won the innagural event in 2003 - do you think it's an edge you would think would continue even though the track has been repaved? "I remember this track back when it was repaved the first time back in 1994. I believe Ted (Musgrave) was also around back then too. It had big, big grip back then after being repaved, but the speeds weren't as high as we are seeing now. Its going to be an advantage for a guy who's been to the track before and probably more beneficial to guys like Ted and I who have been racing here for a long time. We know how the track has changed over the years and what will be different and what is the same with these new changes. But the test session next Thursday will even some things out a bit. We also have another variable in the track.....a brand new tire. This tire was specifically designed for Lowe's Motor Speedway and from what I hear, its a very hard tire. Anytime we have a new tire at a track you have to approach it like its a new track too, cause a lot of the notes you had before on older surfaces and different tires is not going to work on the set up you use today."

Dennis, it's been nearly 3 years since a driver without significant series, NEXTEL Cup or Busch experience has won a race on a superspeedway (Carl Edwards in 2003). What do you make of that? The 1.5-mile track winner list is pretty doggone short. "A lot of these mile-and-a-half tracks are tough to get up to speed on. The main thing that I can think that makes it so hard at a track like Lowe's is communication. Communication between driver and crew is key to running good anywhere, but if you can't relay the right kind of communication back to your crew chief, you are going to struggle anywhere - but especially at a place like this."

You scored the first superspeedway win for Morgan-Dollar here in 2004. What is your fondest memory of that win? "I remember that we had a good truck most of the night and were in the right place at the end. I mainly remember that it was a good night for Morgan-Dollar Motorsports. Michael Waltrip was my teammate that night in the first Silverado All-Star race and he was up front most of the night. So I really remember it as a good night for both Morgan-Dollar trucks and happy that one of us got a win that night."

DRIVER: KRAIG KINSER
TEAM: No. 46 Centrix Auto Finance Silverado - Morgan Dollar Motorsports

"I am feeling pretty good going into Charlotte. We have had the opportunity to get in a few great tests since the St. Louis race and I am feeling more and more confident every time I get into the truck. Randy (Goss, crew chief) was happy with our test at Chicagoland. We are looking for a good finish at Charlotte because a lot of the guys that work all day, everyday at the shop will be there. There is always an added excitement and pressure when we at so close to home. I love night racing, it is what I am used to and I know the Charlotte race is always an exciting one for the fans."

DRIVER:  RON HORNADAY

TEAM: No. 33 Kevin Harvick, Inc. Silverado

"It seems to be a problem looking in from the outside. It used to be a driver track and a handling track and you really had to be on your game with the bumps in Turn 3 and the bump in Turn 1. Now that it's repaved it really makes the track smooth and fast. Last year there was a tire problem and I don't think it will be this year with the new harder tire that Goodyear is bringing to race on.

"It's a new track, it's good for everyone and will level the playing field; it really should be exciting in front of the hometown crowd. I would love to win at Charlotte; it seems to be the 'Super Bowl' of races, just because of its hype that is created with all the teams being in the area.

"To have the test session the day before should help teams get a closer set up for the day long event on Friday. There shouldn't be a tire issue, and with the big fuel cells and more down force than a Busch car you can do a little more.

"I'm really excited to have Cystic Fibrosis on my truck this weekend. I'm really proud to be connected with CF to help raise money for these families that are suffering from the disease. Just really proud!

"I'll have Wally Rogers back on the pit box this weekend; we have an excellent working relationship and can communicate really well together. I'm really looking forward to working with him since he has past Truck Series and Busch Series experience at Lowe's Motor Speedway."

DRIVER:  ARIC ALMIROLA

TEAM: No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Silverado - Spears Motorsports

"We tested in Chicago (Speedway) for two days in the No. 75 Spears Manufacturing truck and really felt like we learned a lot. Most of which will apply when I get to race at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Then to have the opportunity to test the Husqvarna Chevrolet in the Busch Series test will be a huge help considering I had never driven at Charlotte until then. I also think that I learned a lot about the new tire that Goodyear is bringing this weekend; which should help jumpstart my test on Thursday in the No. 75 truck.

"This weekend's events will be cool because I get to sleep in my own bed the night before the race, unlike every other race weekend. With Charlotte being the hub of NASCAR racing, and the fact that I've made a lot of friends here, makes me want to run that much better this weekend.

"I'm just glad to be back behind the wheel of my Spears Silverado and looking forward to this nine race stretch of Truck Series events. We gained some positions in the driver points at Gateway with our first top-10 finish of the year and hope to make that a trend in the races to come."

DRIVER:  MATT CRAFTON

TEAM: No. 88 Menards Silverado - ThorSport Racing

"I'm glad the waiting from all of these off-weekends is over, and it's time to get back to racing and what we get paid to do; Charlotte is a special place with all of the history and competitive racing, and the new track surface will only add to that; We tested well at Chicagoland to prepare for Charlotte, and I'm confident about our chances this weekend. Because of the harder tire, we're gonna have to take a different approach to pit-strategy for this race. We've gained momentum over the last few races (Crafton has averaged an 8th place finish over the last 3 races) this season, and I'm confident that we can keep it going at Charlotte."

Thoughts on being a central figure in NASCAR Day promotions: "It's been really rewarding to share in the excitement of all of our fans about NASCAR Day...I'm honored to be a part of it, to be involved with the different charities and businesses and am looking forward to having an honorary pit crew join our team for the race. With all of the excitement going on in Charlotte, I can't wait for the race on Friday."

DRIVER:  MIKE BLISS

TEAM: No. 16 Xpress Motorsports Silverado

"This will be my first time at Lowe's Motor Speedway in a truck. I have always run pretty well on the "old" track. I won a Busch race there and have had good runs in other races. Thursday's open practice will be a big unknown because we have previously had no ability to test on new surface with new tire. Thursday should be a big help in getting us ready for Friday's practice, qualifying and racing.

"I liked the "old" Charlotte. I like tracks with character and Lowe's had character. Now it will be another one of the fast, smooth 1.5-mile tracks we run. I will miss the track the way it was, it was part of who was and wasn't successful there. You had to figure it out and race the track."

DRIVER: KERRY EARNHARDT
TEAM: No. 13 ThorSport Racing Silverado

"I love racing at Charlotte...it will be my first start in the Craftsman Truck Series, but I raced at Charlotte in the Busch Series and won an ARCA race there in '01. It' a great place to come, with the history of great racing and the history of NASCAR. Like everyone else, it'll be a learning curve as far as the new surface is concerned, and we'll see how the tire issue plays into it. It will definitely be a factor. I have some experience racing here, and hopefully that can be an advantage to me. I feel like (crew chief) Lance Hooper and I are making good strides as far as our communication is concerned, and we'll keep getting better. Communication is important at Charlotte. It's important to find the balance between running competitively and also staying out of trouble here. I've got great support from our guys, and I'm ready to get going again, after all these off weeks. I see good things on the horizon for the No. 13 ThorSport Chevy."

DRIVER: KYLE KRISILOFF
TEAM: No. 15 ditech.com/KrudKutter Silverado - Billy Ballew Motorsports

"I'm looking forward to racing at Lowe's this weekend. It's been a little aggravating racing then having a couple weeks off so it will be nice to get into a stretch where we're racing every week. I haven't competed at Lowe's in a couple years but I like the track. Of course, they have repaved it since I was last on it and honestly, kind of the reason I liked the track was the bumps so I hope they didn't get rid of them all. I'm looking forward to a good weekend in the No. 15 ditech.com/Krud Kutter Chevrolet and hope to build on a good run for the next few weeks."

DRIVER: KYLE BUSCH
TEAM: No. 51 National Land Liquidations/Manheim Central Florida Auto Auction Silverado - Billy Ballew Motorsports

"I'm just really excited to get back into the truck series for the first time this year with Billy Ballew Motorsports. It's the place where I got my first truck series win and I always tend to run well at Lowe's. It will be some fun and also will be good to get some more track time on the new pavement to prepare for the weekend of the '600'.

"The new surface on Lowe's Motor Speedway is really good, it's got a great new pavement job and the only thing that will be difficult is the tires will be very hard and not produce much wear. Our notes will change (from 2005) but we have that open test day on Thursday and we will go from there.

"Our number one goal is to repeat the win of course but we will have to see how that all shakes out. Todd Bodine, Ted Musgrave and Mark Martin have been running incredibly strong so it will definitely be a challenge to go out there and win the race."

DRIVER CHAD CHAFFIN
TEAM: No. 40 Key Motorsports Silverado

"With the new surface at Lowe's and the really hard tire that Good Year designed for the place, pretty much every team is going to have to fight a pushing condition. I found that out when I spun out in my Cup car during testing. But the surface is really smooth, and if Barry (Dodson, crew chief) can give me a truck that I can turn through the corners, there is no doubt in my mind that with our new power source we will make this race and be competitive once we get in it."

-gm racing-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Michael Waltrip , Todd Bodine , Kevin Harvick , Ted Musgrave , Dennis Setzer , Lance Hooper , Mike Bliss , Carl Edwards , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin