Pruett surfs Tide of information By Brett Borden DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 2, 2000) Scott Pruett is finding out quickly that there's more to NASCAR than a heavy right foot and left hand turns. The former CART star sees more details than...
Pruett surfs Tide of information By Brett Borden
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 2, 2000) Scott Pruett is finding out quickly that there's more to NASCAR than a heavy right foot and left hand turns. The former CART star sees more details than decals on his No. 32 Tide Ford that need to be addressed. "I'm just amazed at how much little things make a difference," Pruett said. "Typically, I'm looking at half a tenth or a tenth (of a second), something like that, and they're talking like hundredths and thousandths. It's just amazing how much little things make a difference."
Compared to the sleek design of his former open wheel ride, the Ford Taurus Pruett now surrounds himself with must feel like a Sherman tank. But he says the transition has been rather smooth, and he hopes to follow in the leadfootsteps of Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart.
"It is totally different and, hopefully, I can make the transition as well," Pruett said. "For me, I've had a lot of experience racing. I had the opportunity to come down here and do IROC and it's just having a very basic understanding of going racing and what it takes. Up to this point, it's just going out and doing our job."
With drafting at Daytona, there can be significant change on the leader board from one lap to the next. Erstwhile draft 'dodger' Pruett says he has much to learn in that area.
"The last time I ran in the draft was five or six years ago in the IROC race and these guys do it week in and week out, so that's gonna be a pretty big hurdle for me to get over," Pruett said. "They're gonna teach me the way around here a little bit. The whole drafting side of it is new for me. We did it a little bit in IROC, but with Indy cars it's totally different. I mean, we stay out of the draft in Indy cars, so I have a lot to learn there."
Pruett has shown he is a quick learner when it comes to speed -- he was one of the quickest in testing this winter at Daytona -- but can this rookie hit the learning curveball that other tracks will throw at him?
"The bottom line is we want to take the Tide car and qualify every race," he said. "If we can do that, then we'll feel like we've been successful because there are gonna be those tremendously difficult weekends and we've gotta stick together as a team. I mean, the highs are easy to get through, it's when you have those hard weekends that's when everybody's gonna come together and really focus and dig deep or break apart."
Last season, Stewart was like a sponge, absorbing almost everything he could, then squeezing that information for top finishes down the stretch. Pruett plans on following his fellow open wheel convert's lead, rather than blazing a trail of his own.
"There are a lot of great drivers out here and a lot of terrific teams and we'd be fooling ourselves to think that we're gonna come in and show these guys the way around the track," Pruett said. "That's why we've set our goal as qualifying for every race. That's a very basic, simple achievement for us to set and, if we can do that, then we've been successful. And with that, we just focus on every race and try to get the most out of the car. Sometimes we're gonna be struggling to make the race and, hopefully, other times we'll be running toward the front."
He was near the front in testing at Daytona, if that means anything.
"It means that we're on the right track and it means the guys back at the shop have been doing their jobs and the work load is gonna be a little bit less," Pruett said. "If we came out of here say 20th-quick, there would be a mad scramble at the shop trying to figure out how to make this thing faster. If you come out towards the top, I think we can really focus on going racing."