Rockingham open test wrap-up

ESR's Scott Speed Tops ARCA RE/MAX Series Test Charts at Rockingham ROCKINGHAM NC (3-22-08) -- The ARCA RE/MAX Series concluded a two-day test at Rockingham Speedway over the weekend (March 21 & 22) where 39 drivers participated in preparation...

ESR's Scott Speed Tops ARCA RE/MAX Series Test Charts at Rockingham

ROCKINGHAM NC (3-22-08) -- The ARCA RE/MAX Series concluded a two-day test at Rockingham Speedway over the weekend (March 21 & 22) where 39 drivers participated in preparation for the inaugural May 4th Carolina 500.

Scott Speed, in the Eddie Sharp Racing Red Bull Toyota, turned in the quickest speed of the weekend Saturday morning, circling the historic, high-banked oval in 24.942 seconds, an average speed of 144.335 mph.

"It's definitely a cool track," said Speed. "And I think they'll be two good grooves come raceday. The tires go away in a hurry; they lose grip right away, so the drivers that manage their tires the most effectively will be the guys you'll see up front.

"We actually tested here in November, and the track has lost some grip since then. We were not good yesterday, and we threw everything at it except the clipboard, but fortunately we were able to learn a lot over the course of two days. We made qualifying runs all day today, so now I think I know what the car should feel like for qualifying. But after all the changes, we still ended up close to our baseline.

"Again, the key during the race will be tire management. You've got to slow yourself down as the tires lose grip. Otherwise you just slide around out there and hurt your tires even more."

Daytona winner Michael Annett, in the Bill Davis Racing Pilot Travel Centers Toyota, was second quickest overall with a speed of 144.208 mph.

"We were really tight early yesterday, so we made some spring changes," said Annett. "Now we can roll around right on the bottom. We made a lot of gains on our race set up yesterday, so today, we've been working on race set ups.

"The biggest key to Rockingham will be the tires. Anyone can go out and bust off one great lap on sticker tires, but it's the driver who still has a car you can drive fast with at the end of 40 laps who will win the race. You have to learn how to be good over the long haul."

Justin Marks, in the Germain Racing Voodoo Ride Toyota, was third on the speed charts at 143.472 mph.

"This race will we be won or lost at the end of a tire run," said Marks. "We have a very good car for here, and I think we accomplished all of our goals. The biggest thing is making the car as consistent as possible from new to old tires. You've got to minimize the fall-off. It's definitely a tough track, so you've got to get yourself as comfortable as possible. You have to stay in the wheel all the way around; it's super challenging. To me, it feels like a big Salem Speedway."

Despite making contact with the wall off turn two just before lunch on Saturday, Justin Allgaier posted the fourth quickest speed overall at 142.993 mph.

"I'm really not sure what happened," said Allgaier. "We were making a tire run, trying some things when the car took off toward the wall. It's unfortunate; we worked really hard for two days to make that car right. Fortunately, the car isn't hurt bad. We'll get it fixed up and bring it back for the race.

"We also tested our Salem car here, but the other one felt better. This is definitely a tough track. It's our longest race of the year. So, anything you can do to make yourself more comfortable in the car will only benefit you during the race."

Joey Logano, a development driver for Joe Gibbs Racing, was fifth quickest overall in the Venturini Motorsports Chevrolet.

"We still need to make the car better," said Logano. "It's good, but it can be better, and the guys are working real hard to get there. But what a blast this place is to drive. This place is challenging; it's a driver's track and you have to stay up on the wheel all the way around. Really looking forward to racing here."

Newcomer Kyle Strickler also wrecked late in the day after he slid sideways off turn four. Strickler landed against sand barrels at the entrance of pit road. Although the car appeared badly damaged, Strickler was not injured.

Other drivers who participated in the open test included Dexter Bean, Matt Carter, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Ken Butler, III, Chad McCumbee and Bobby Gerhart to name a few.

The inaugural Carolina 500 will be LIVE on SPEED at 12 noon Eastern Sunday, May 4th. The event is spread out over three days with practice on Friday and Saturday. SIM Factory Pole Award Qualifying rolls off at 10:00 am Saturday with second round qualifying to follow at 2:30 pm.

The next event for the ARCA RE/MAX Series will be the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200 presented by Federated Auto Parts at Salem Speedway, Sunday, April 13th.

-credit: arca

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About this article
Series ARCA
Drivers Bobby Gerhart , Scott Speed , Justin Marks , Justin Allgaier , Chad McCumbee , Dexter Bean , Joey Logano , Michael Annett , Ken Butler
Teams Germain Racing , Joe Gibbs Racing , Bill Davis Racing