Teams Emphasize Importance of Texas Weekend During Tests FORT WORTH-DALLAS (March 23, 2004) -- The importance that NASCAR racing teams place on events during the April 1-4 Samsung/RadioShack 500 week was emphasized Tuesday when 18 NEXTEL Cup and...
Teams Emphasize Importance of Texas Weekend During Tests
FORT WORTH-DALLAS (March 23, 2004) -- The importance that NASCAR racing teams place on events during the April 1-4 Samsung/RadioShack 500 week was emphasized Tuesday when 18 NEXTEL Cup and Busch Series teams tested at Texas Motor Speedway.
One of the busiest testing days in speedway history aided the teams' preparation for the April 4 Samsung/RadioShack 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race and the April 3 O'Reilly 300 NASCAR Busch Series event. There was one incident during the day. Kyle Busch spun exiting turn four late in the afternoon and hit the frontstretch wall with the left side of the Carquest Chevrolet. The younger of the Busch brothers was uninjured.
Seven Nextel Cup veterans took advantage of the last week of testing before the Samsung/RadioShack 500. The veterans included former Texas winners Jeff Burton and Terry Labonte along with Michael Waltrip, Ricky Rudd, Dave Blaney, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch. The Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year candidates that prepared for their NEXTEL Cup debuts at "The Great American Speedway" were Brendan Gaughan, Kyle Busch and Scott Wimmer.
Drivers testing their Busch Series machines during the day were Bobby Labonte, Joe Nemechek, Greg Biffle, Johnny Benson, Paul Menard, Justin Labonte, David Starr and Billy Parker.
The day was important to the both NEXTEL Cup veterans and rookies.
"We worked on long-run items, just trying to do something to help us run better on race day," said Rudd of his day in the Motorcraft Ford. "We are running two race cars. We are trying to run them off against each other to figure out which one is the best. They act differently, we're not quite sure which one we are going to settle with.
"We are as comfortable as you could expect to be at Texas," continued Rudd. "You are going awfully fast around these corners. The wind sort of played havoc with us coming off turn two today. We are fairly comfortable in race trim."
Michael Waltrip was pleased with his first day of testing in the NAPA Chevrolet but was still seeking more speed.
"We tried some different things, some new setup avenues," said Waltrip. "It all went well. We got better all day long. We have another day tomorrow to improve. We didn't wind up being as fast as we needed to be.
"We got some information from when (Dale Earnhardt) Junior tested here. He was a little better than us. We will go back to the motel, scratch our heads and come back tomorrow with another plan."
Gaughan was elated following his day of testing with mentor and former NASCAR great Buddy Baker and teammate Rusty Wallace helping out. Gaughan has won four consecutive NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races at Texas.
"All it takes is the Penske-Jasper team to come to Texas to make me feel a whole lot better," exclaimed Gaughan. "This is by far our best effort of the year. This is another brand new race car, a brand new Dodge out of our shop. New cars aren't always the best. We came here with a new deal and had Rusty here helping us all day.
"We had a great test at Bristol, once again had Rusty there helping us. We came here, took a bunch of stuff (crew chief) Shane (Wilson) and I knew from the Truck days and said OK, we have to start running better. All it took was a little bit of Texas. We were running great.
"This is our Texas car, right here. There's already a race car named Lone Star, that's my Truck. I don't think I can name this one Lone Star, but we may name this one Cowboy. We've been struggling, the crew knew I really wanted to do well here at Texas. If there's a place I can get my confidence back, it's here."
Wednesday will be the final day of NASCAR testing at the speedway prior to the start of race weekend activities April 1. All tests are closed to the public.
Season tickets, which include a frontstretch grandstand seat for the Samsung/RadioShack 500, are on sale daily at the speedway, by calling (817) 215-8500 and online at www.texasmotorspeedway.com.
The teams testing Tuesday at Texas Motor Speedway were:
NASCAR NEXTEL CUP
Terry Labonte, Kellogg's/got milk? Chevrolet; Michael Waltrip, NAPA Chevrolet; Ricky Rudd, Motorcraft Ford; Scott Wimmer, Caterpillar Dodge; Dave Blaney, Bill Davis Racing Dodge; Kevin Harvick, GM Goodwrench Chevrolet; Brendan Gaughan, Kodak Dodge; Kyle Busch, Carquest Chevrolet; Kurt Busch, Irwin Tools Ford; Jeff Burton, Roush Racing Ford.
NASCAR BUSCH SERIES
Johnny Benson, Yellow Freight Dodge; Bobby Labonte, Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve Chevrolet; Paul Menard, Menard's Chevrolet; Justin Labonte, Coast Guard Dodge; David Starr, Enzyte Chevrolet; Greg Biffle, Charter Communications Ford; Billy Parker, Duraflame Dodge; Joe Nemechek, Cellular One Chevrolet.