Mast gets a road racing education By Shawn A. Akers SONOMA, Calif. (June 23, 1998) When it comes to the road courses, Rick Mast doesn't mind going "back to school." Mast, who heads west this weekend for the NASCAR ...

Mast gets a road racing education By Shawn A. Akers SONOMA, Calif. (June 23, 1998) When it comes to the road courses, Rick Mast doesn't mind going "back to school."

Mast, who heads west this weekend for the NASCAR Winston Cup Series Save Mart/Kragen 350 at the 1.95-mile Sears Point Raceway, recently took a refresher course at the Bondurant Driving School in Phoenix to prepare himself for the first of two road course races this season.

"I had never been to one of those road racing schools, and everybody kept telling me I needed to so, so that's the reason I went," Mast said. "I went, Bill Cooper taught me, and, honestly, by the time we were done, I was thinking, 'Man, I should have done this seven years ago.' I learned so much in that road-race school.

"I don't know why it never applied when I was doing it out there racing. Evidently, during the races, I'd do the right things, but qualifying I guess I needed a rabbit to chase or something."

The driver of the No. 75 Remington Arms Ford failed to qualify for last year's race at Sears Point, and in six career NASCAR Winston Cup starts at the track, he has an average starting position of 34.3 and an average finishing spot of 21.3.

"Once I got into Winston Cup and started doing this deal, it seemed like every time I'd go to these places (road courses) I'd have trouble qualifying," Mast said. "But every time I went to Sears Point or Watkins Glen, when the race started, I'd start passing cars.

"Then, we'd have trouble finishing. We've had the brakes fall off before, transmissions, everything. Some of it was my doing, and some of it was mechanical failure, but I had a lot of trouble finishing those races. Last year, again, it was the same kind of deal. I just didn't do very well at it."

Mast finished 23rd in last year's Bud at the Glen at Watkins Glen International, the other road course on the circuit.

Following the California 500 at California Speedway in May, Mast and the No. 75 Remington Arms team went to test at Sears Point. Only this time, he brought his teacher, Cooper, with him to show him the ropes of road racing. Mast said the extra lessons should pay off come this Sunday.

"The guys built a brand new road-race car and we went out to Sears Point after the Fontana race," Mast said. "Cooper came out there with us, and, he didn't get in the car or anything, but he took me around the race track and showed me the way they do it, which is pretty similar to the way I did it.

"There were three or four things that were a good bit different that he pointed out to me, but we tested there and had a lot of rain. We didn't get a lot of laps, but what laps we got with the car were pretty fast. I was pretty comfortable."

The Sears Point road course has been changed since the series last visited there. What used to be a 12-turn, 2.52-mile facility is now an 11-turn, 1.95-mile venue.

"I think it's pretty cool," Mast said. "I think, like every other driver here, there was some apprehension about it when we first saw the sketch of it. Knowing what happened with Bruton (Smith) and Texas, and knowing that's not what he wanted to happen at Texas, but it did.

"All the way down that hill is pretty anxious, but when you get to the bottom they've made the hairpin turn real wide. Turn 7 is now real wide and the run-off area is more area than you need. If something goes wrong and you go out and spin it off the track, you're gonna be okay."

Source: NASCAR Online

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Series General
Drivers Rick Mast