Revisiting Lady Luck At Charlotte: ...
Revisiting Lady Luck At Charlotte: #82 Eric Van Cleef has experienced a lot of racing success at the Lowe's Motor Speedway at Charlotte. He is hoping that Lady Luck will meet him again as he prepares for the Goody's Dash NASCAR Touring Series event on May 24, a preview event before the Coca-Cola 600.
The Huntsville, Ala. resident entered four Goody's Dash events in 1999 with a Pontiac to gain experience in the series. His highest finish of the year was a fourth-place at Charlotte. He has also posted several wins on the Lowe's Motor Speedway road course in the SCCA GT4 and Showroom Stock C competition.
Baby Stepping: As Toyota's first entry in the Goody's Dash Series with No. 82 Eric Van Cleef, the Toyota 5VZ powerplant has made constant improvement in horsepower and reliability at each event. Toyota Racing Development and Van Cleef Racing have been working together to improve the engine package with positive results. At a recent test at Lowe's Motor Speedway, Van Cleef's Toyota Celica posted times better than his 1999 race entry.
This is the first time that NASCAR has allowed an overhead-cam, multi-valve engine to compete in the series. During the off-season, officials from NASCAR took a very careful and systematic approach to ensure the V6-powered Celica performed within a competitive window against the Pontiacs and Fords in the field.
Rooting For the Rookie: Because Van Cleef competed in less than five Goody's Dash events in 1999, the Toyota Celica driver is still considered a rookie for the 2000 season. After four events, he is third in the NGDS Napa Filter Rookie Point Standings with 25 points. He trails Cam Strader and Ricky Woodward who are tied for first with 27 points. Van Cleef is 21st in the overall point standings.
Eric Van Cleef: team owner and driver for Van Cleef Racing
"Every race, we've shown improvement with the Celica with both the horsepower and the reliability. You can really tell we're making strides because we are starting to pass cars during the races. We still have work to do to catch up to the front of the pack, but I predict by mid-season that we could have a good chance to run in the top five."
Tom O'Connor: Toyota Racing Development
"We were pretty encouraged after the test at Charlotte for two reasons. First, the times Eric was posting were faster than his race times from last year. Also, after talking with some of the other front-running competitors in the series, they were impressed."