Homestead open practice notes/quotes

Points-leader Brendan Gaughan (driver of the No. 62 Orleans Hotel Dodge) What do you think of the reconfigured 20-degree banking of the NEW Homestead-Miami Speedway? "This is what they rebuilt the track for. They spent a ton of money to build...

Points-leader Brendan Gaughan (driver of the No. 62 Orleans Hotel Dodge)

What do you think of the reconfigured 20-degree banking of the NEW Homestead-Miami Speedway?
"This is what they rebuilt the track for. They spent a ton of money to build the track for the third time. This is a beautiful place now. I liked it before, I've never been a guy who whines and complains about racetracks. I'm a mile and a half type of guy and this place is right up the Orleans team's alley. It's really fast, lot of grooves and money well spent. The fans have already heard about it and they're buying up tickets. That means the Speedway did a great job."

What kind of racing do you expect in Friday's Ford 200?
"We had a good race last year. The Craftsman Truck Series puts on a great show just about everywhere we go. The Craftsman Truck Series often puts on the best show of the weekend, we're pretty used to that. We got a great points battle along with the Busch Series. This one is coming down to the last turn of the last lap at Miami and that's the way you want it. So many of these mile and a half tracks are being built and they are still barely over a groove wide. This place right now, I'm notorious for being up towards the wall. I'm cat-fishing it right now, I'm at the bottom, I'm watching guys up towards the wall where I normally am. It's literally four grooves wide and it's going to be one heck of a points race."

Second-place Ted Musgrave (driver of the No. 1 Mopar Dodge):

"I really liked the old track, because I really had a handle on it. That's because you really had to handle to do well here. You had to really work on the setups and have your truck working perfectly. I won here two years ago and was second last year to Ron Hornaday, after leading the most laps. But it's a whole new deal this year. Now, you're running wide open and steering. Brendan is running good right now, I'm OK, and it looks like all the title contenders are running pretty good. It's going to be who is going to have bad luck. They will be in trouble. I want to keep our nose clean and do as best we can."

Third-place Travis Kvapil (driver of the No. 16 IWX Motor Freight Chevrolet):

"I love it. It's a great racetrack. What they did with the banking is perfect. Right now, I've been going in the middle groove, but you can also go high. It's got a lot of grip. My truck has been tight. When they loosen it up, the lower I'll be able to go."

Fourth place Dennis Setzer (driver of the No. 46 AXIOM/Computer Associates Chevrolet):

"It's very nice, and everything's been going good so far. There are a few guys who are running good, and we're in the crowd of guys running pretty good. I've been in the middle groove most of the time, but I've ventured up and down a few times. It seems everywhere you run, it's the same speed. I think a lot of side-by-side racing is possible. The championship race looks fun. I'm in the easy seat. I'm fourth, and I can't go backwards, but I've also got the possibility of gaining a few positions."

Carl Edwards (driver of the No. 99 Superchips Ford):

"This is awesome! Plain and simple, it's going to be a great race. I've never been here before, so I've got nothing to compare it to - that might be a good thing. Right now, the middle groove is working good, but I think it will move up. You carry the same speed from the bottom right up to the top, and that shows they've done a great job. Once we get more rubber down, it will open up even more."

Matt Crafton (driver of the No. 88 Menards Chevrolet):

"They've done a real good job with the banking. I like it a lot. It's definitely going to be very racey. I liked it before, but this progressive banking is really neat as well."

Tyler Walker (driver of the No. 7 Mopar Performance Dodge):

"I love it, it's real smooth. And, the weather's great!"

Rick Crawford (driver of the No. 14 Newspapers and Education Ford):

"I like it. I'll like it even better if I win. It's a lot different than it was before. I'll have to learn the right grooves. Now, the guys are working on getting me a great truck, and I'll take it from there. It's fast so far."

Bill Lester (driver of the No. 8 Strauss Auto Parts/The Club Dodge):

"It's interesting. The three different degrees of banking are very different. Right now, the middle groove seems to be the ticket. It's amazing the amount of grip out there. I think we'll see some good racing this weekend."

Jon Wood (No. 50 Roush Racing Ford):

"I haven't figured anything out yet. It's definitely a lot different from last year. You can't bring back anything from last year's setups. For me, the middle groove seems to be working the best right now."

Andy Houston (driver of the No. 2 Team ASE/Carquest Dodge):

"I like the new track. The banking is pretty neat. It's got lots of grip. I think the racing will be real good. A lot of the guys are still figuring out where they need to be. One thing I've noticed is that turns one and two are tighter than three and four. We can go about wide open in three and four, but you have to come out of it in turns one and two. The banking has made that corner a little tighter because the back straight is higher than the front straight. I never noticed it when the track was flat, but now you notice it."

Ken Schrader (driver of the No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet):

"You did good (rebanking the track). There's nothing wrong here, they've done an awesome job. It's a real nice deal. Today we were just presentable, nothing spectacular."

Johnny Sauter (driver of the No. 9 Apple Bottoms/Vokal Clothing Co. Ford):

"The number one reason why I'm here is to get seat time. I was surprised how fast it is - it's super fast. We were two seconds off this morning. The guys kept tuning and tuning, made a lot of wholesale changes, and we picked up a second and a half. Now we're only a couple tenths off."

Scott Lynch (2003 NASCAR Winston West champion and rookie of the year, No. 61 Orleans Hotel Dodge):

"It's awesome. It's unbelievable, the banking really holds the trucks steady. This is my second Craftsman Truck race, I finished 12th at Las Vegas. Our goal is to qualify in the top 15 and finish in the top 10. This is an awesome experience."

Buddy Rice (a regular in the IRL IndyCar Series, Buddy was invited by Duke Thorson to drive the this weekend as a teammate to Matt Crafton):

"It feels real good so far, and I'm pleased. You have to drive the truck, and that makes it fun. There's definitely a lot happening out there. I've always been an open-wheel racer, and I'm trying to get to know the people over here. I'm enjoying myself. The team's done a good job preparing the truck, and that says a lot for this team. I'm getting a taste for driving the truck. I always thought I'd like this, and now I'm seeing what it's like."

At least three of the contenders for the NASCAR Busch Series title were on hand Monday, observing the testing...

Ron Hornaday (driver of the Busch Series No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet):

"Everyone I've talked to said it's a nice track with a lot of grip. I'm confident I'll like it a lot more when I go out tomorrow."

David Green (driver of the Busch Series No. 37 Timber Wolf Pontiac):

"It's odd to look down pit road and be able to see the corner! I'm used to looking down the straight and not seeing anything. It really looks smooth. The transition from the corners in the banking to the straightaways is real smooth, and that's perfect. I've talked to Dennis Setzer, and he said it's real nice. The guys who seem to be running the fastest seem to be using the middle groove. If I can run in the middle, I'll be able to pass. So tomorrow, I'll be working on getting my car working in the middle of the racetrack."

Jason Keller (driver of the Busch SeriesNo. 57 Albertsons Ford):

"I've been listening more than anything. A lot of guys are trying to figure it out. I've heard 'fast' a lot. That's been a common word. It sure looks different with the banking. Hopefully, it will come to me tomorrow. I've seen guys running on the top, some in the middle, some in the bottom, there's a variety of grooves. Now, I'll sleep on it tonight for tomorrow's testing."

Unofficial Speeds from the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Open Practice on November 10 at the NEW Homestead-Miami Speedway (as reported by team crew chiefs, no official timing and scoring system used):

1. Brendan Gaughan; No. 62- 168.224
2. Rick Crawford; No. 14- 168.119
3. Ted Musgrave; No. 1- 167.546
4. Andy Houston; No. 2- 167.338
5. Dennis Setzer; No. 46- 167.286
6. Bobby Hamilton; No. 4- 167.183
7. Chad Chaffin; No. 18- 166.358
8. Travis Kvapil; No. 16- 166.154
9. Jon Wood; No. 50- 166.154
10. Bill Lester; No. 8- 165.441

-hms-

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