Heading to Infineon Looking for First Nextel Cup Win CORNELIUS, N.C. (June 19, 2007) -- If you name any famous road race, Ron Fellows has probably won it. The 47-year-old from Windsor, Ontario, Canada, has a road-racing resume second to none....
Heading to Infineon Looking for First Nextel Cup Win
CORNELIUS, N.C. (June 19, 2007) -- If you name any famous road race, Ron Fellows has probably won it.
The 47-year-old from Windsor, Ontario, Canada, has a road-racing resume second to none. He won 19 races in 95 starts in SCCA Trans-Am competition before becoming the primary development driver for General Motors' Corvette C5-R program. That association produced victories at the Rolex 24 At Daytona (Fla.), 24 Hours of Le Mans (France), 12 Hours of Sebring (Fla.), and virtually every road racing circuit in North America.
He's also had plenty of success in NASCAR racing.
Fellows has competed in all three of NASCAR's top divisions and has scored two NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victories (Watkins Glen in 1997 and 1999) and three NASCAR Busch Series victories (Watkins Glen in 1998, 2000 and 2001). Both of his Truck Series victories and his 2000 Busch Series win came from the pole, while his 1998 and 2001 Busch Series wins came from the second starting spot.
However, he has never won on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series circuit.
He has been close, though.
In 15 career Nextel Cup starts -- all but one (New Hampshire in August 1998) coming on the road courses at Infineon Raceway (Sonoma, Calif.) and Watkins Glen (N.Y.) -- Fellows has a pair of second-place finishes at Watkins Glen in 1999 and 2004. His 2004 runner-up effort came after starting 43rd. He has two other top-10 finishes, both at Infineon, where he was seventh in 2003 and eighth in 2005.
Fellows is hoping that this week, in the Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Infineon, he can drive the No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet to victory lane.
And why not? He has had plenty of success at Infineon with five wins in American Le Mans Series competition, tying him for the series record for wins at a single race track.
He'll attempt to score his first Nextel Cup win after spending the last two weeks in Europe competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans where, along with teammates Johnny O'Connell and Jan Magnussen, he piloted the No. 63 Compuware Corvette C6.R to a runner-up finish in the GT1 class and sixth overall in the world's most prestigious sports car race.
RON FELLOWS (Driver, No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet):
Overall thoughts heading into Sonoma:
"This is a great opportunity for me. I think this is the first time since I was with DEI (Dale Earnhardt Inc.) with the Pennzoil car in terms of going into the race feeling comfortable because you know that you're going to make the race. In talking with Brandon (Thomas, crew chief), it's been a while since I've gone to a Cup race where I didn't have to get in on time. So we'll be able to put more effort into the race setup and that's a real positive."
How much do you enjoy doing the two road course races on the Nextel Cup Series schedule?
"I thoroughly enjoy doing them, whether it's Busch, Cup, Truck. The Nextel Cup Series is the cream of the crop and on the competitive side of it, these guys are all very, very good. And, the racing is incredibly close. That's enjoyable. It's also a lot shorter than what I've been doing recently (Le Mans 24-Hour-race) and I don't have to get out of the car during the pit stops."
Can you describe what kind of track Infineon is?
"Unlike Watkins Glen, which has high-speed corners and a fair amount of grip, Sonoma is more of a low-grip track. It's got slower corners and you've got to be smart about the brakes. The brakes can get too hot in a hurry. You've got to be focused on getting the car well-balanced and it's got to turn well. In terms of the driving, you've just got to try to make as few mistakes as possible. You're going to make mistakes, but you're slipping and sliding at Sonoma, so you're just looking to minimize the mistakes as much as possible. You're also looking to take advantage of the situation when somebody in front of you does slip out a little wide, because it's going to happen. You have to be as prepared as possible for when that happens."
You tested NASCAR's Car of Tomorrow with the DLP team and Hall of Fame Racing in late May at Virginia International Raceway. How was the test and what are your thoughts on the COT?
"I had heard a lot about the COT and how it might behave. I didn't really notice a whole lot of difference. Maybe I will when we get to Sonoma, but being a little rusty in those cars, it seemed fine to me. Brandon (Thomas, crew chief) told me I might expect the car to do this or that, but they had it tuned up really well, so it handled pretty well and I think we've got a solid plan to get the car to work for me in the short amount of time that we've got."
You've done it before, but how strange it is to go from the Le Mans 24-Hour Race in a sports car to the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series event at Infineon?
"The biggest thing I've got to do between now and the weekend is get rested. It's been a long couple of weeks in Europe. We had a great race with the Corvette, chasing (the) Aston Martin (Racing team) pretty much the whole time. I'm exhausted and I'm sure my teammates are, as well. The (Corvette) is very different. It has a lot more downforce and a lot more tire on the ground than the Cup car, but the biggest priority for me is just getting well-rested heading into Sonoma."
How important is it for you to get that elusive first NASCAR Nextel Cup Series win?
"It'd be huge. It's why we keep pursuing it. It's unfinished business for me. We've been fortunate enough to win in the Truck Series and the Busch Series, but I really want to get a win in Nextel Cup. When you look at how big and popular Nextel Cup racing is, it's impossible to ignore. It would be, without a doubt, one of the biggest wins I've ever had."