Atlanta: Andy Houston preview

Houston Anticipates Action at Atlanta Motor Speedway Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge Hopes To Rebound After Daytona MOORESVILLE, NC- (March 3, 2004) -Like a lot of NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competitors, Andy Houston is looking for something to help...

Houston Anticipates Action at Atlanta Motor Speedway
Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge Hopes To Rebound After Daytona

MOORESVILLE, NC- (March 3, 2004) -Like a lot of NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competitors, Andy Houston is looking for something to help remove the bitterness of a badly damaged race truck and a less than satisfactory finish in the season opening race at Daytona. Caught up in the lap 51 calamity that claimed 15 trucks, Houston and his Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge crew finished in 30th place and were left to ponder what might have been. Houston now heads for the hopefully more friendly confines of Atlanta Motor Speedway where he will compete in the Easy Care Vehicle Services 200 on March 13th.

"We really need to have a good run at Atlanta," Houston claimed. "We got caught up in the big crash at Daytona and didn't get the type of finish that this Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge crew is used to. Hopefully Atlanta will provide us with a chance to change our fortunes. Like Daytona, I am sure there will plenty of excitement. Atlanta Motor Speedway is a lot like Texas and I love to run the trucks at Texas, so I am optimistic that we can run pretty well because of the similarities between the two tracks. I think Atlanta is a driver's track. The fastest groove there a lot of times is not at the bottom of the racetrack. You'll see guys, especially in the Cup race, getting lapped by the outside wall late in the race. Obviously, I think our strategy will be to try to keep it on the bottom if we can run there all day, but if you get a little bit off in the handling, you can move around and find a place on the racetrack where you can run faster. Those are fun tracks to race at because it's not 'follow the leader,' not everybody is lined up in one line with no ability to pull out and pass. At Atlanta, you can pull out and pass, and you can search around to find different grooves and find one that works for you."

Houston's experience at Atlanta is somewhat limited. He ran well but did not have the desired result at the 1.54-mile quad-oval in his only start there in a 2001 Cup event. He is betting on better results in the inaugural NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event at the Hampton, GA facility.

"I think we ended up 21st or something but we ran a lot better than that during the course of the race," Houston said. "I think we got spun out late in the race, but I'm excited to go there. It's going to be a fun place. It's really fast, it was fast there in the Cup car. With the way these trucks handle and with the amount of downforce they have, I really think it will be a flat out racetrack for the trucks. I think they'll run wide open all the way around the racetrack, and I think they'll put on a heckuva show there. Atlanta is wide so I think you'll see really good side-by-side racing there. It will probably be two and three wide there at times. Any time you add a new track to the schedule, it gets me excited. I look forward to going to new places and new challenges, but when you add places like Atlanta where the facilities are top rate and you have a very good standing fan base, it's even better."

Houston is aware of Atlanta Motor Speedway's storied history. For years Atlanta hosted the last Cup race of the year. Richard Petty ran his last NASCAR race there on the same day Jeff Gordon ran his first. Houston hopes he and his Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge contingent can carve out some history of their own.

"You do get a real sense of the rich tradition at Atlanta," Houston stated. "Especially after the track was in its former configuration where it was a true oval, and then it was turned around and made into a quad-oval. It's pretty neat because you can spin yourself around and look at the backstretch, which used to be the old frontstretch. You just don't want to spin yourself around during the race."

The Easy Care Vehicle Services 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway is set for Saturday March 13th. The event will take the green flag at 1:00 pm ET and will be broadcast live nationally by the Speed Channel, XM satellite radio and MRN Radio.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Andy Houston , Richard Petty