Indy IRP: GM Racing preview

Indianapolis, IN - After a two-week break in the schedule, Team Chevy Silverado is prepared to return to action at O'Reilly Raceway Park (ORP) for the Power Stroke Diesel 200. The one-day event is a favorite among Bowtie drivers. Silverado drivers...

Indianapolis, IN - After a two-week break in the schedule, Team Chevy Silverado is prepared to return to action at O'Reilly Raceway Park (ORP) for the Power Stroke Diesel 200. The one-day event is a favorite among Bowtie drivers. Silverado drivers have scored six victories in the previous 11 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) events held at the track formerly known as Indianapolis Raceway Park.

The .686-mile track is unique on the NCTS schedule, not only because it is the only one of its size. The track is virtually flat with just 7.5 degrees of banking in the turns and a mere 2.0 degrees on the straights. It is described by drivers as "tricky", but still a short track where track position is critical to save your equipment until the end of the race.

"Track position is key," said Mike Bliss, No. 16 Xpress Motorsports Silverado. "But is especially important when we come to places like ORP. It seems like you have to qualify well here in order to race well. If you get caught in the back at ORP, there is a good chance that you will be involved in someone else's misfortune, or even your own mistake."

Dennis Setzer, No. 85 E85 FlexFuel Silverado, has several reasons to be excited about Friday night's event. As the defending race winner, he has a level of confidence coming in to the event. However, it will be Setzer's first race with crew chief Randy Goss calling the shots. Goss and Eric Phillips have switched places in the Morgan-Dollar Motorsports organization. Phillips will now head up the No. 46 U.S. Army Silverado driven by Raybestos Rookie Kraig Kinser.

"I am just excited about going to ORP, " said Setzer. "It is exciting anytime we get to head to ORP. The name change doesn't change anything about the track. It is just the same thing that we have had at Morgan-Dollar Motorsports; same trucks, same building, same people, things just got switched around a little bit.

"We have a good set-up, and it is a good place for me, and has always been fast for me. I don't think I have really had the numbers to show how well I have ran there, because we have ran so well there in the past. It was nice to finally be able to win one at ORP last year."

For Kinser, it is back home again in Indiana. This weekend will be the first NCTS event in his home state.

"I am focusing on this as just another race," said Kinser. "I have raced my sprint car a lot in Indiana, but this is the first time for the truck. I just want to do the things I need to do...learn the track, be patient and bring home a strong finish."

Team Chevy Silverado Driver Quotes

DRIVER: DENNIS SETZER
TEAM: No. 85 E85 FlexFuel Silverado - Morgan Dollar Motorsports

What are your expectations going into ORP this weekend with a new crew chief? "I am just excited about going to ORP. It is exciting anytime we get to head to ORP. The name change doesn't change anything about the track. It is just the same thing that we have had at Morgan-Dollar Motorsports; same trucks, same building, same people, things just got switched around a little bit.

Does your strategy change at all heading to this difficult track?

I don't think it changes at all for me. We are going to go there and work on getting the best possible race truck we can during practice, where it will race really well. Sometimes this truck is not the best truck to qualify in, but I think we can race well. If we qualify well, that will just be another bonus for us, but we need to race well. Last year there was some really long, green flag runs, and paid some dividends for us, by starting up front because there was no qualifying, but the truck was so good during the race that we were able to stay up front.

Is being the defending race winner a boost of confidence for you?

I think so. We have a good set-up, and it is a good place for me, and has always been fast for me. I don't think I have really had the numbers to show how well I have ran there, because we have ran so well there in the past. It was nice to finally be able to win one at ORP last year. Explain the importance of the FlexFuel program to the State of Indiana. It has been really exciting anywhere we have been in the Midwest to have farmers and friends of farmers at the races. They come up to us and tell us how much they appreciate this program and I think they are really happy to see General Motors and Chevrolet publicize this E85 FlexFuel and what is capable and available to the public. I think that the farmers are proud that someone is making the American public aware of what is available. Being able to head to Indiana, where corn is such a big part of the economy is also a big boost for our program also, because we are able to make people a little more interested and intrigued by what E85 and FlexFuel actually is."

DRIVER: KRAIG KINSER
TEAM: No. 46 U.S. Army Silverado - Morgan Dollar Motorsports

What are your thoughts going into ORP? "Just like any other weekend, I just have to get used to the track more than anything. I am focusing on this as just another race. I have raced my sprint car a lot in Indiana, but this is the first time for the truck. I just want to do the things I need to do...learn the track, be patient and bring home a strong finish.

Have you ever been there? "I have been there, and have watched a lot of races there, but have never been around the track. It is going to be like most tracks, just go there and try and get some laps."

How do the crew changes made at Morgan-Dollar Motorsports affect you as a driver? "I definitely don't see it hurting us. Everyone at Morgan Dollar Motorsports get along really well, I think that having a different perspective won't be a bad thing. I am sure that Eric (Phillips) and I will work together differently than Randy (Goss) and I did; things may just work out better with these changes. Because we are all under the same roof and have been all season, it does make it a pretty easy transition for all of us because we don't have to get to know anyone new. They will be the same people, just different uniforms."

DRIVER: RON HORNADAY
TEAM: No. 33 Kevin Harvick, Inc. Silverado

"I cannot wait to get back to Indianapolis in the Truck Series. It is a place that I always look forward to going to, and it is one of my favorite tracks that we race on. It is such a fun track, and this weekend we will be focusing on playing more defense than offense. You just have to do that, especially at a place this small, and I know the racing will be very intense, so staying out of trouble is going to be a big goal this weekend.

Our Kevin Harvick Inc. team is jelling so well, and I feel that the team is at the top of their game and with our success here recently, there is no reason that that can't continue in the future. Pit strategy is also going to be a key to the race. We are in pit stall 29, I believe, and we are going to have to consider that factor when we are making decisions to pit, but I think we can come out of Indy with our Silverado in one piece, and a great finish also."

DRIVER: ARIC ALMIROLA
TEAM: No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Silverado - Spears Motorsports

Because O'Reilly Raceway Park is such a technical track, how does your approach change heading into this race? "I really come into every weekend the same; I am just ready to race. I don't go into any weekend any different; I just put my game face on and am ready to go.

Why do you think you did so well in 2005, the first time on a track that traditionally rookies struggle on?

I think that we were able to finish tenth because of the race team that I was with. I went to Indy in 2005 with Morgan-Dollar Motorsports and Randy Goss, and we were able to turn quite a bit of laps in the test session and also in practice. We had to start last because of the rain, and we were able to just fight our way to the front, and I think that that was key. Just staying out of trouble, and being there at the end is what we are going to have to do again this year. I am really looking forward to heading back to Indy, where I had my first top-ten finish in my second start in the Truck Series. We are taking a truck just like the one we ran in Memphis, so I am really looking forward to having a great run in my Silverado this weekend."

DRIVER: MATT CRAFTON
TEAM: No. 88 Menards Silverado - ThorSport Racing

Because O'Reilly Raceway Park is such a technical track, how does your approach change heading into this race? "I love ORP. It is definitely one of my top-five favorite tracks to race at, and I really look forward to heading there. It fits my driving style also; I like the long, sweeping corners. I think that ORP is more of a driver's track. I will be thinking about the pit road situation, just because it is so much more narrow that a lot of the place that we go to. There is so many things that the drivers and the crews have to think of now, but it makes the racing exciting, and the teams more competitive. After having a great run in Memphis, I am hoping to improve our Silverado finish by one, and get that first win. I think that we can do that this weekend."

DRIVER: KERRY EARNHARDT
TEAM: No. 13 National Pork Board Silverado - ThorSport Racing

Well, right now I am going to Matt Crafton's Driving School 101. We are testing right now in Pennsylvania, and Matt is up here with us, helping me. I have been struggling at the short tracks, and we have looked at some of the things that I have been doing and Matt has helped me a lot. Hopefully we will be heading into ORP fresh and ready to go, and will hopefully be a little better on the short tracks than what we have been.

Are you looking forward to heading back to another short track?

I think that I will enjoy short track racing more now, I have figured some stuff out that I was doing wrong. I always had a problem with being really tight in the center, and have figured out how to drive the truck better getting into the corner. Matt has shown me a lot of things today that have helped me pick up quite a bit. We are pretty excited about heading to another short track, I like that track, and I raced there in the Busch car in 2001, and ran decent.

How important is having a teammate like Matt Crafton, where you are able to bounce ideas off and learn from each other?

We haven't really been communicating all that much and that was mostly been on my part, because I am not much of a talker to anyone. I am working on being open and talking and asking questions and working with Matt. We have been talking the last few races, but nothing like what we need to. He has taken time out of his busy schedule to come up and help us out, and I think that we are going to start working more together and help each other out more.

DRIVER: MIKE BLISS
TEAM: No. 16 Xpress Motorsports Silverado

Does open wheel experience at ORP help driving stock cars at the track? "The only way I can describe it is to say that it is different. It is hard to take what you learn from driving a 1,000-1,500 pound Silver Crown car, and apply that to driving a 3,400 vehicle. Probably the biggest thing that I have taken away from the open wheel stuff is the time on the track. I really think that that helps a lot, especially at ORP. Since it is a little tricky track, having the extra track time can do nothing but help us.

What is your advice to the ex-USACers in our midst (East, Reid) on how to approach the track?

My advice to the young guys is to just not think too hard, I think that is what has happened to me in the past at ORP, and just get the truck to roll up through the center of the corners. Thinking about how you should be getting through the corners and where you need to turn was always something that messed me up. What I have to do is just let the truck show me what I need to do, and then adjust on things from there, and also just do what feels comfortable, without putting the truck in the wall of course. I also think that they need to treat it just like any other short track that we go to, and just be patient and save your stuff for the end of the race.

ORP is one track that's missing from his resume - any reason why?

I think that the main reason is that I just over-thought things regarding the track too much. I guess you just have to go into ORP like it is any other short track that we visit, but it is just hard sometimes not to think, well, I should do this, or that.

Looks like qualifying isn't everything - it's the only thing. No winner has started worse than 5th. He started 3rd in his last appearance. What are your thoughts on this?

Track position is key, but is especially important when we come to places like ORP. It seems like you have to qualify well here in order to race well. If you get caught in the back at ORP, there is a good chance that you will be involved in someone else's misfortune, or even your own mistake. I am hoping to qualify our Xpress Motorsports Silverado up front, and hopefully keep it there all night. We have already drawn for our pit stall, which is about ten stalls down from the start finish line, and we have an opening, so that should be good also."

DRIVER: CHAD MCCUMBEE
TEAM: No. 08 Green Light Racing Silverado

What are your expectations going into Indianapolis this weekend? "We were hoping to get to go somewhere and test and work on our truck a little more, and take a little different configuration to the short track than we have been taking. We weren't completely satisfied with how we ran at Memphis, we made gains from the other short tracks, but we still need to put forth a little effort and some work to see if we cant get better. We keep improving our equipment and hopefully we can come out of IRP with a really strong run.

Are you looking forward to heading back to another short track?

I really enjoy the short tracks. It makes you sit there and think the whole 200 miles, and the short tracks are the grass-roots, and are where everyone came from, and everyone is familiar with. I always enjoy it and look forward to it. As long as we can get our trucks working well, I feel confident we can run well at every short track we go to."

DRIVER: RYAN MOORE
TEAM: No. 40 Key Motorsports Silverado

"I've never raced there (ORP) before, but I did have the opportunity to spot for Martin Truex, Jr. in the Busch race there last year and got a pretty good education as to what I can expect. But for us to achieve our goals of running better, more competitively and with a chance of getting into the top 30 in team owner points, we will have to be better prepared and have a handle on things a lot differently than we have in the past. We learned a lot at Memphis, and now we need to apply that by putting everything back together correctly."

-gm racing

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Kevin Harvick , Dennis Setzer , Matt Crafton , Mike Bliss , Martin Truex Jr. , Kraig Kinser