Mast Feels The Need For Speed During Pepsi 400 Testing At Daytona DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (June 12, 2001) -- For Rick Mast and the No. 50 MidWest Transit Chevrolet team, there was little doubt that they needed to participate in a test session at ...
Mast Feels The Need For Speed During Pepsi 400 Testing At Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (June 12, 2001) -- For Rick Mast and the No. 50 MidWest Transit Chevrolet team, there was little doubt that they needed to participate in a test session at Daytona International Speedway in preparation for the 43rd annual Pepsi 400 on July 7.
Mast missed the field for the season-opening Daytona 500 and also came up short on speed for the recent restrictor-plate race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway in April. So Mast's team packed up the hauler and headed to the "World Center of Racing" for a two-day fact-finding mission that he hopes will help him qualify for the mid-summer classic.
"We missed the race in February with this particular car," said Mast, who shared the track with the BAM Motorsports Pontiac and driver Andy Hillenburg. "This car also missed the Talladega race. We've got to find something to make this car go faster. We've got Hendrick motors for this car for here. They're good. The chassis is pretty good. We've been struggling with our aerodynamic package. This car has had a lot of massaging done to it for this test to see where it stacks up.
"In Winston Cup racing, you don't luck in. It's very simple. It's a lot of hard work, a lot of money, a lot of R&D, a lot of engineering and Daytona and Talladega is where it shows up more than anywhere. So when you're behind in those areas, you just come to the track and throw stuff at it."
Mast, who recorded his best finish at the 2.5-mile tri-oval with a fourth-place run in the 1991 Daytona 500, doesn't want to miss the field for the Pepsi 400, a race he thinks has grown in prestige since being held under the Speedway's lighting system.
Said Mast of previous daytime Pepsi 400s: "The stands were never full for this race. God bless there souls out there in that heat. I don't know why (the fans) did it. I couldn't do it. But now that it's done at night, it's been packed. Anytime you have a night race, the word I use is electric.
"Daytona is so big. The thing that makes this whole deal work is the stands being full. If the stands were still empty, it wouldn't be that special. But the stands being full and all those flash bulbs going off during the pace laps. As a driver, it's a whole different feel. I love running here at night."
Mast said the mood of the Pepsi 400 has changed a little bit to where drivers are more serious about winning the fastest night show in America.
"It use to be like you would come here and bring your families and go to the beach," Mast said. "The race wasn't really like a second thought, but it wasn't on the forefront of everybody's mind like the Daytona 500. Everybody's vacationing and staying over after the race on Sunday. Now, it's starting to take a different direction because of the fans here. That's what does it. These guys are motivated by fans."
Testing for the Pepsi 400 continues on Wednesday between 3 p.m.-11 p.m. Grandstand access is free and open to the public with entry through the lobby of DAYTONA USA, the official motorsports attraction of NASCAR.
Fans can purchase tickets for the Pepsi 400 weekend online at http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling the Speedway ticket office at (386) 253-7223.