Bristol Ford preview

>From NASCAR Public Relations and Ford Motorsport Monday, March 25, 1996 BRISTOL ADVANCES 'DRIVING SNOWSTORM' DESCRIBES HILLIN'S BRISTOL TEST A snowstorm cut short testing last week at Bristol, but Bobby Hillin...

>From NASCAR Public Relations and Ford Motorsport

Monday, March 25, 1996 BRISTOL ADVANCES

'DRIVING SNOWSTORM' DESCRIBES HILLIN'S BRISTOL TEST A snowstorm cut short testing last week at Bristol, but Bobby Hillin and the Jasper Engines Ford team were determined to get a test in before Thursday evening's deadline prior to the Food City 500. The team's transporter drove through a nearly blinding snowstorm Wednesday night and Hillin and team manager Mark Harrah drove through snowfall Thursday morning as they approached Bristol. When they arrived, track officials said the track was closed because of snow and ice on the track. Hillin and Harrah asked if they could dry the track themselves and get in an afternoon test, and were scald, "If you can do it, go ahead."

SAID BOBBY HILLIN -77- Jasper Engines/Federal Mogul Thunderbird "When we got to the race track, there was snow and ice all over the turn three and four banking. I was holding on to the wall with one hand and holding a shovel scraping snow and ice off the banking with the other. Mark Harrah and I shoveled the snow off the track and then we drove around the track in his car (A MUSTANG COBRA) 220 laps to dry it off. We were pretty determined. The two of us had done a lot before any of the team guys got to the track. And then we just got out on the track with Mark's car and one Ford van and dried it off. When we got to the track that morning, we'd driven through all kinds of snow coming over from Charlotte, and the truck driver, who came over Wednesday night said he'd driven through a blizzard to get there. But the forecast was for it to clear Thursday afternoon, and I've seen the weather change pretty quick at the race track and we thought we had a chance to get Some laps in. And it cleared, but only for about 30 minutes. The track called Mike Skinner's guys, and they came back over and ran, too, but we both ran through snow flurries all afternoon. One time, I really thought we were done, because it got slick. Mike came over and asked if I thought the track was getting wet again, because his car was slipping. We accomplished some things, but not a lot really, but I'm glad we got the few laps we got because we really needed to look at some things on the Bristol car. But we're asking NASCAR not to count that as a test against us, and I think some other teams that half-tested at Bristol asked for consideration, because weather cut short most of the testing there last week." *******

SHEPHERD'S BRISTOL TEST MADE DIFFERENCE AT DARLINGTON Morgan Shepherd and Butch Mock's Remington Arms Ford team made great gains in tests last week at Bristol and North Wilkesboro:

MORGAN SHEPHERD -75- Remington Arms Thunderbird -- "We've got to get our short track program turned around, and Bristol and Wilkesboro are the next two stops, so now's the time. We came away from our test at Bristol last week real good. We had a good baseline up there. The 2 car and 4 car were up there and they'd been testing a day before we got there. We got there and ran right with them, just a little bit off. At that time, Rusty's run a 15.77 and the 4 car ran a 15.78. We ran a 15.82, but our car was dragging, and we needed to move the cross member in our car. We think when we go back, we're going to be right there in contention to qualify up front. I think with what we learned there and at North Wilkesboro, we'll have good qualifying efforts and good race cars."

DID YOUR TWO SHORT TRACK TESTS AFFECT YOUR QUALIFYING AT DARLINGTON? "It had everything to so with why we qualified well at Darlington. Bristol is a track that you'll run close the same set-ups you run at Dover, Darlington and Rocking ham. You can take some things from there aria fine-tune it. And the things we learned at North Wilkesboro to get the ear to turn, and what we learned at Bristol, we took that and unloaded fast at Darlington. We made one shock change on the left front, and that's all we did before we qualified. We didn't change a spring, bar, nothing on the Remington Thunderbird. Even though Bristol has slower speeds, the car slams down into the corner so hard, it's like a high rate of speed. The set-ups won't be that far off. Then you've got to get your car turned through the long corner (at Darlington) in three and four, so the things we aid at Wilkesboro to get our car to turn, we applied that to the front end, and that helped us, too."

DID THE TRACK AT BRISTOL SEEM ANY DIFFERENT THIS TIME? "It seemed as rough as ever, aria just as slick. It seemed to me it wasn't in as good a shape, and we know the speeds were off. If I'd gone and tested and hadn't had other cars to compare our times to, I'd have been real concerned with the speeds, because they were off. I understand that Rusty and them stayed a third day and a 15.74 was as fast as they ever ran. So, I think the more rubber that gets laid down on the track, the speeds will creep back up some."

WHAT ABOUT THE NEW OWNERSHIP At BRISTOL? "Bristol has been a track that has always sold out a year ahead and people stand in line for hours to get tickets. It was already a great facility up there. (Bruton Smith will) just add to it."

SO WHICH CAR DO YOU TAKE TO BRISTOL? When teams go to an "action track" like Bristol, some might consider taking a car it can afford to crash. Following are thoughts of some Ford drivers on which cars go to Bristol:

DALE JARRETT -88- Quality Care/Ford Credit Thunderbird *- "You can't afford to take anything but your best car to any race track anymore. Anything else is accepting defeat before you get to the track. I don't see Rusty Wallace taking anything but his best car up there, which is why he does so well up there. And nobody can afford to give anything up to him or anybody else."

BILL ELLIOTT -94- McDonald's Thunderbird -- "We take our best stuff to every race. It may not always seem that way, but we do. If you run up front, tearing up your car shouldn't be a problem."

MARK MARTIN -6- Valvoline Thunderbird -- "Unfortunately with the way the rules are on the Fords this year, we don't have a lot of choices about which cars to take where. You can't take an 'everywhere' car to Bristol, because it has to be a short track car because of roof height and template adjustments made on short tracks. So, we're taking a real nice car, and we haven't necessarily done that in the past. But we have to take

what we have fixed, and we have a real nice one fixed." RICKY RUDD -10- Tide Thunderbird -- "The car I'm taking is probably not one of our best cars in the shop. Bristol used to be a great race track for me. A lot of top-five finishes, a lot of seconds. But lately, it seems like I'm having trouble finishing the race there without getting torn up. We're taking a good race car, actually a pretty fresh race car, but one that we cut on, sawed on, converted into something different along the way. It's a good race car, but one if you had to lose it, it would be one to lose. It's a war wagon, a pretty stiff old race car, heavy duty chassis. There are some important races coming right on the heels of that race. Charlotte's coming, and I definitely wouldn't sacrifice a car that I'd carry to Charlotte."

*******

Jack Durbin indy500@freenet.tlh.fl.us Motorsport News International jackd@motorsport.com (Moderators for "rec.autos.sport.info") Homepage http://www.freenet.tlh.fl.us/users/indy500/index.html

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Mike Skinner , Morgan Shepherd