A difficult weekend for GNC Racing in Kansas. KANSAS CITY, Kan. (Sept. 30) - Sometimes, a team's best efforts can still yield unrewarding results. Such was the case for the members of the GNC Live Well Racing crew at Kansas Speedway this past ...
A difficult weekend for GNC Racing in Kansas.
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (Sept. 30) - Sometimes, a team's best efforts can still yield unrewarding results. Such was the case for the members of the GNC Live Well Racing crew at Kansas Speedway this past weekend.
While the crew tried everything they could think of to improve the handling on its No. 36 Dodge Intrepid during Saturday's Mr. Goodcents 300 NASCAR Busch Series (NBS) race, driver Hank Parker Jr. fought a loose handling condition throughout the 200-lap event. Parker and his team were credited with an 18th-place finish, one lap down to the race winner, Jeff Burton.
The finish was a disappointing one for Parker and his team, considering they brought the same chassis Parker drove to a second-place result in last year's inaugural NBS event at the 1.5-mile facility.
"We just couldn't get a handle on this place this weekend," Parker said. "You hear about it happening all the time. You come to a track with a lot of good notes and a setup under the car that should be awesome. Then, for whatever reason, that setup just isn't what the car needs on that particular day. It's very frustrating, but it's part of what makes racing so challenging. You think you've got a track figured out, then you come back and it humbles you."
The battle between the No. 36 crew and the Kansas track began as soon as first practice began on Friday morning. Throughout the two-hour session, the GNC crew tried a number of different things to help Parker get faster. In spite of the team's best efforts, Parker could only manage the 30th-fastest lap of the practice session. Parker and crew chief Gary Cogswell put their heads together to figure out what adjustments to make to the car before qualifying.
The team adjusted several variables on their car before sending Parker out for his qualifying run. The changes didn't improve the car as much as the crew had hoped, and Parker's lap put him 33rd on the starting grid for Saturday's race.
Parker and his team felt confident they could tweak the car's setup during final practice on Friday afternoon. By the time that one-hour session came to an end, Parker pronounced the car's handling as "pretty good."
When the green flag dropped on Saturday afternoon, Parker immediately had his hands full with a loose handling condition on his Intrepid. On longer runs, the handling seemed to improve, and by the time of the team's first pit stop, Parker's lap times had improved considerably.
On each of the team's stops, air pressure and wedge adjustments were made to the No. 36 to help alleviate the condition. While the handling improved at some points, Parker found himself a lap down to the race leaders at approximately the halfway point of the event. Unable to get back on the lead lap before the end of the race, Parker was credited with an 18th-place finish.
"If there's one thing you can count on being the same in racing, it's that things are always changing," crew chief Gary Cogswell said of his team's struggles. "We don't have a lot of history at this place, so we really don't have that many notes as to how the track changes. Now we've got twice as much information as we had before this weekend. I feel confident that we did everything we could to improve. We got better as the weekend went on, but we never got to where we needed to be."
With the finish, Parker remains 14th in the NBS drivers' points standings as the Busch Series heads to Lowe's Motor Speedway (LMS) for the 29th event of the 2002 NBS schedule.
The Little Trees 300 will air live from LMS on Saturday, Oct. 12, at 1 p.m. EDT, on TNT (Turner Network Television) and 12:30 p.m. EDT on MRN (Motor Racing Network) affiliates.