Rookie Coleman Gains Valuable Experience at Michigan The goal for rookie Brad Coleman was to stay out of trouble, gain valuable experience and complete as many laps as possible in his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut in the 3M Performance 400 at...
Rookie Coleman Gains Valuable Experience at Michigan
The goal for rookie Brad Coleman was to stay out of trouble, gain valuable experience and complete as many laps as possible in his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut in the 3M Performance 400 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.
That goal was accomplished, as Coleman brought the No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry back to the garage with no damage, a 38th-place finish and a boatload of experience gained.
"Don't let anyone tell you that it's easy, because it's not," said Coleman, who completed 197 of the 200 laps in his debut race. "Those are all world-class race car drivers out there. I've just got such limited time in this (Sprint Cup) car, I didn't know what would happen when I got around other cars aerodynamically. I didn't know on the restarts how hard I could drive it, so basically that's what today was. I was trying to get to the finish and learn all those things, and I felt I got better and better as the race went on."
It was continued improvement throughout the 400-mile race that was most important to Coleman and the DLP HDTV team.
"I saw his lap times improve gradually and I think by the end of the day his lap times got a lot better," said Steve Boyer, crew chief of the No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota. "I saw his pit stops get better and better. So, there are a lot of little things he got better at and we'll build on them and get better from here on out."
For Coleman, his first Sprint Cup start showed him first-hand the difference between the NASCAR Nationwide Series and the elite NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
"The biggest thing I told him that I couldn't prepare him for, no matter how many times we talked, was the difference between a Nationwide Series race and a Sprint Cup Series race," Boyer said. "The biggest difference is intensity. When they drop the green in (Sprint) Cup, those guys are out for blood, where in the Nationwide Series, it isn't that way. They don't really run as hard as they do in Cup. In Cup, these guys -- all 43 of them -- run 99 percent every single lap. In Nationwide, it's not that way, and so the intensity level is hugely different and how hard these guys push these cars. It's what makes it the Sprint Cup Series."
With nearly 400 miles of Sprint Cup race experience now with him, Coleman, along with Boyer and the rest of the DLP team head to Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway next weekend.
"It was an honor to drive this DLP Toyota and I think I can build on this," Coleman said. "I've got to learn to help the team set up the car the way I want it. I still don't know what I want. It's still a learning process and the rest of the year I'm going to be learning a lot."
With the 38th-place finish, the No. 96 Hall of Fame Racing entry is now 40th in the series' owner standings with 1,482 points, 279 markers behind the 35th-place No. 66 team of Haas/CNC Racing.