LAS VEGAS -- Three days of NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series testing concluded at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Wednesday afternoon. A dozen teams remained for the final day, hoping to squeeze every ounce of speed from their trucks in preparation for the 2001 season.
Team Rensi arrived in Las Vegas with an agenda. With two trucks and two drivers on hand, they would get some seat time for rookie hopeful David Donohue while series veteran Randy Tolsma would become familiar with his new team and crew chief.
"My test so far has been good," Tolsma said Tuesday. "I'm new to Team Rensi, I'm back with Chevrolet and I have a new crew chief. Today is not about speed, but more about working together. We had a game plan when we came out here. We'll go for speed on Wednesday. Everything's been really good. The truck responds correctly and my crew chief and I are working really well together, so that's a successful test."
On Wednesday, Tolsma's team was unable to find more speed, but remained optimistic.
"Our testing went better yesterday," Tolsma mused. "We haven't found the speed we wanted by any means. We had a few problems and we're just working through some bugs. We made some changes on the truck and it hasn't responded in the way we thought it should, or would.
"The way the team is working together is very encouraging. You'd like to walk away from this test being the fastest truck, but I don't think we'll do that today."
Both Rensi trucks carried small video cameras to aid the crew with aerodynamic experimentation. Tolsma's truck carried a camera under the hood, mounted to the top of the radiator. Short lengths of yarn were fastened to strategic points throughout the engine compartment.
"We used to get a direct air inlet from the front of the truck to the air cleaner," Tolsma explained. "Now we have an open air cleaner, so we have to determine where we want to get our air from, underneath the hood. We're just trying to get an idea what the air underneath the hood is doing and where to capitalize on the good, fresh air."
Tim Woods III was on hand Wednesday to test with the Speedcraft team. The 24-year-old native of Irwindale, Calif., honed his skills in the Super Late Model ranks at Irwindale Raceway and has a handful of NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Tour Series events under his belt. After finishing fourth in points at his home track, Woods came to LVMS to try his hand in a truck.
"I'd like to run a few truck races next year," said Woods, whose best Southwest Tour finish was a fourth in Los Angeles. "We're hoping to pick up a few sponsors along the way -- we could use a little more funding. We're planning to debut at Mesa Marin, then compete at Indianapolis Raceway Park, Las Vegas, Fontana and possibly one more. This is my second time in a Craftsman Truck. I tested for Bobby Hamilton's Dodge team in Tennessee about six weeks ago. I feel comfortable driving on the superspeedway in the truck. My best lap times have been a 34.8 (seconds). We just dipped under 35 (seconds). We didn't come here with a mega-team and a mega-budget. My main concern was to slowly gain speed -- not necessarily overdo it and spin or wreck. We're running a cool 95 percent. This is a nice track. It has a lot of room to pass and it's smooth."
Today's test session concluded without incident, although rookie Travis Kvapil caused an anxious moment when he spun in Turn 4. Both driver and truck escaped unscathed.
Unofficial lap times from Wednesday's practice session at LVMS: Dennis Setzer -- 32.95-sec., Jack Sprague -- 33.03-sec., Ricky Hendrick -- 33.31-sec., Bryan Reffner -- 33.37-sec., Randy Tolsma -- 34.36-sec., Coy Gibbs -- 34.33-sec., David Donohue -- 34.58-sec.