Little Tests Lowe's Motor Speedway CHARLOTTE, N.C. (May 12, 1999) * Chad Little and the No. 97 John Deere crew didn't travel far, but still logged some serious mileage over the past two days. Only 30 minutes down the road from the ...
Little Tests Lowe's Motor Speedway
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (May 12, 1999) * Chad Little and the No. 97 John Deere crew didn't travel far, but still logged some serious mileage over the past two days. Only 30 minutes down the road from the Mooresville shop, Lowe's Motor Speedway provided the backdrop for the team's fourth test of the year. The test conducted at Charlotte's 1.5-mile oval was the third of four, Ford manufacturer-specific tests, and 24 teams took advantage of the two-day event. The No. 97 John Deere Taurus ran a total of 342 miles over the two-day span, over half the total distance of the Coca-Cola 600 scheduled for May 30.
This test was unique in its timing, since both The Winston and Coca-Cola 600 are run at night. The test ran from 1 p.m. until 10 p.m., which allowed for half of the time to be spent under the Lowe's Motor Speedway lights. The John Deere crew approached the test with a well-developed plan that used the first day and the better part of the second day to put some miles on the Taurus in race conditions. Following Tuesday's one-hour dinner break, the John Deere crew began working on qualifying setups before calling it a day.
"The first day was solely dedicated to race setups," said Little. "We practiced longer runs, trying to fine tune the car for what we feel will be race conditions. Last year we finished 35th here in the spring race, and although a brake line was the culprit, we want to make sure that we're not giving anything up on the green-flag runs.
"I've always liked racing at Charlotte and feel this should always be one of our better races. In a 600-mile race the engine is an important element in getting you through the day. Our Roush power plants are strong, and that gives us an advantage when we line up on the starting grid Sunday night knowing we have the equipment to take us the distance.
"I felt really comfortable with the car at the end of the first day, and even more so at the end of the second. This is a great way to get back into the groove. We had a little break after California, and this puts us back in the racing mindset heading into Richmond.
"Overall, I would rate this test as very positive. We took two cars here and our backup car wasn't too bad either. That tells me we're doing something right when we can create two, fast cars that are consistent in their handling.
"We lucked out with the weather, too. We had two very nice days, and I believe they will be pretty close to the conditions we will race in. That adds more validity to the test, and you also walk away with the feeling of accomplishment."
Little finished the test running the 10th fastest time of the 39 cars participating, and his secondary car, which was never set up for qualifying, finished 24th. Little and the crew hope they can use what they learned to capture the one transfer position from the Winston Open to make it into the big show, The Winston, on May 22.
The John Deere team heads back into the shop Wednesday to unload the two test cars and reload the two cars for this weekend's Pontiac 400. Little currently sits in the 17th position in the Winston Cup point standings, and hopes that the .75-mile oval of Richmond International Raceway (Va.), where he finished 13th last year, will once again yield a promising finish.