TEAM AMICK CALLS ON "ACE IN THE HOLE" -Road Racing Veteran Joe Varde Tests Amick Entry At Watkins Glen- Watkins Glen, NY (June 22)- Anyone involved in the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division (NBS) will tell you that a race team must ...
TEAM AMICK CALLS ON "ACE IN THE HOLE"
-Road Racing Veteran Joe Varde Tests Amick Entry At Watkins Glen-
Watkins Glen, NY (June 22)- Anyone involved in the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division (NBS) will tell you that a race team must use every tool at its disposal to gain a competitive advantage.
Heading into this weekend's Lysol 200 at Watkins Glen International, the lone road course event of the season, the members of Team Amick Motorsports found their advantage in their own organization.
The team called on road racing veteran Joe Varde, the co-driver of the Team Amick Dodge Viper in the Motorola Cup Road Racing Series, to help test the team's No. 35 POWERTEL / Mitsubishi Wireless Busch Series entry for this weekend's race.Twice in the past few weeks, Varde has traveled to Watkins Glen to shake down the team's primary car.
With 54 road racing wins and five IMSA (International Motor Sports Association) Championships under his belt, there is perhaps no one more qualified to assist Team Amick in preparing its Chevrolet Monte Carlo for the Watkins Glen course.
For driver Lyndon Amick, whose background is in oval track racing, being able to tap into Varde's wealth of road racing knowledge and experience is a definite plus.
"He's been such an incredible asset these past few weeks," Amick raves of Varde. "To be able to pick the brain of someone with such road racing talent is amazing in itself, but to have him help us set up the car is way more than I could ever hope for. You learn how to get a car to handle on a road course through seat time and experience, and he's got a ton of that. I know he's reduced our learning curve incredibly."
Varde has been with the Team Amick organization since last fall, when he was hired to manage, as well as drive for, the new road-racing arm of Team Amick Motorsports. Team owner Bill Amick began the road-racing venture to not only give his oldest son, David, an opportunity to race, but also to allow Lyndon Amick to gain more seat time by racing a second Motorola Cup entry when his schedule permits.
The first Watkins Glen test session in late May found Varde and David Amick, along with the crew from the road race shop, putting the No. 35 through its paces on the 2.54-mile course. Just over a week later, Varde was back at the facility with Lyndon Amick, where the two drivers took turns driving the No. 35 and discussed what changes to make to improve the car's handling.
Varde claims that, contrary to what most people might think, driving a 3400 pound stock car through the twists and turns of a road course isn't all that different from the sleek sports cars he's used to.
"The Busch Series cars really handle pretty well," says Varde. "They're very forgiving, and they're a lot of fun to drive."
The car that Amick will drive in Sunday's event is the same one Team Amick brought to Watkins Glen last year, but with a new 2000 Monte Carlo body.
In last year's event, driver Mike Bliss, substituting for Amick, was running third in the Team Amick entry and appeared to be gaining on Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and Ron Fellows. With four laps to go, a part failed in the clutch mechanism, relegating the No. 35 to a 28th place finish.
Determined to improve on his team's 1999 results, Amick says that the test sessions actually served two purposes. Not only did the team get the benefit of Varde's extensive road-racing knowledge to help prepare for Sunday's race, but it also allowed the Busch Series crew to focus on their strength.
"We had the best of both worlds on this deal," says Amick. "We have a car that's set up by one of the best road racers in the business, and our Busch team got to stay in North Carolina and work on getting cars ready for some upcoming events. It's been a win-win situation so far, and I'd like to add another win to that on Sunday."
# 35 POWERTEL / MITSUBISHI WIRELESS CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO
Driver- Lyndon Amick
Lysol 200 Notes and Quotes
Remembering A Friend- The No. 35 entry will carry a special decal on the "C" post this weekend in memory of Stedham "Buzz" Maddox, who passed away in Myrtle Beach, SC, last Friday. Maddox, the Vice President of Sales for Mitsubishi Wireless, one of Amick's primary sponsors, had become quite close to Lyndon, Team Owner Bill Amick, Crew Chief Ricky Pearson and other members of Team Amick Motorsports. He will be missed.
A Not So Secret Weapon- In preparing for this weekend's event, Team Amick twice utilized the services of road racing veteran, Joe Varde, to test the No. 35 entry at Watkins Glen. Varde, who is a five-time IMSA (International Motor Sports Association) Champion, has 54 road racing wins to his credit. Varde manages, and is a co-driver for, the road-racing arm of Team Amick. Varde, along with co-driver David Amick (Lyndon's older brother), compete in the Super Grand Sport Class (SGS) of the Motorola Cup Series. Driving a Dodge Viper, Varde and Amick have won three of the five Motorola Cup events they've entered this season, and currently sit first and second in the SGS Driver's Points Standings.
But Is It Art ?- While some drivers spend hundreds of dollars to have custom graphics added to their race helmets, Lyndon Amick actually made money on his protective headgear. Amick purchased a plain white open-faced Simpson helmet to wear while attending the Bondurant Road Racing School in Phoenix , AZ, on June 5-6. Sitting around their hotel room in Phoenix one afternoon, Amick's friend and fellow Busch Series competitor Hank Parker, Jr., began doodling on the helmet with a magic marker. Parker, Jr., then made a friendly wager that Amick would not wear the helmet at that weekend's Busch event in South Boston, VA.
Not only did Parker lose that wager, Amick liked the helmet so much, he donned it again at last weekend's Myrtle Beach race. Rumor has it that the helmet may make another appearance for at least part of the Watkins Glen weekend. The helmet bears such literary gems as: "I fear Hank Parker, Jr.," and "I ain't stoppin' 'till the airbags are poppin".
Driver- Lyndon Amick
On the team's chances at Watkins Glen- "I think we've got a real shot at a top-five finish. We've got the same chassis that did so well here last season. Mike Bliss was running third in that car and was gaining on Earnhardt and Fellows when his clutch gave out with four laps to go. That was pretty disappointing, especially when we got back to the shop and figured out it was a five-dollar part that cost us a shot at the win. But with that same chassis, and with the testing help we got from Joe Varde, we feel good about our chances."
On getting help from a road racing legend like Joe Varde- "He's definitely an 'ace in the hole'. Joe's won over 50 road races, and to have him as a part of the Team Amick organization is a tremendous asset. When Hank Parker, Jr., and I drove those two Motorola Cup events at Daytona and Homestead, I followed him around the track some, and just riding behind the guy helped me learn a lot. He really helped us out by testing our car for us here a couple of times. I can't help but feel blessed to have a driver of his ability in my corner."
On the loss of Buzz Maddox- "Buzz really became more than just a sponsor, he is a part of our team. He would attend any race that was within driving distance of his home in Atlanta, and he even made a point of coming to test sessions. He even took me to Opening Day for the Atlanta Braves this year, and to my first NHL game. At his funeral, they talked about all the lives he touched through his charity work. He was a special man, and a role model for how you should treat people. Losing Adam Petty and then Buzz in such a short time frame really makes you reevaluate what's important. I know that it's making me appreciate my family and friends that much more."