Austin Dillon Tests NASCAR Camping World Series Truck At North Wilkesboro Speeday By: Deb Williams NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. (April 21, 2010) -- One week before Austin Dillon's 20th birthday, Richard Childress' grandson tested his NASCAR Camping ...
Austin Dillon Tests NASCAR Camping World Series Truck At North Wilkesboro
By: Deb Williams
NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. (April 21, 2010) -- One week before Austin Dillon's 20th birthday, Richard Childress' grandson tested his NASCAR Camping World Series truck at North Wilkesboro Speedway, a track he once rode around while sitting on telephone books.
"Dad was in the front seat with me, so I was able to do that when I was real little," Dillon recalled during a break in his Wednesday afternoon test session. "It was raining and I got in the van and I got to ride on the top of the telephone books. I also watched my dad [former Nationwide Series driver Mike Dillon] run here. I actually came out here when they tested here for one of his Late Model races."
Wednesday, however, was Austin Dillon's day at the historical 0.625-mile track. The test session provided seat time for the young driver, as well as an opportunity for him to develop better communication with his first-year crew chief and team.
"We're getting ready to get in a stretch here through the middle of the summer and we need to build that communication fast, so when we get in the middle of it [the truck schedule] we know what we're talking about," explained crew chief Danny Stockman, who was Ron Hornaday's truck chief the last four seasons at Kevin Harvick Inc. "I'm trying to understand what he's telling me and he's trying to understand the changes that I'm making. Basically, we're here today [Wednesday] making tons and tons of changes and I want him to feel what they do. This place wears tires out. You get about 40 laps on a set of tires, but that also teaches him to conserve tires."
Dillon's No. 3 Bass Pro Shops truck was the second Richard Childress Racing team to test at the facility in the last month. Kevin Harvick tested his NASCAR Sprint Cup Shell Pennzoil Chevrolet at the facility on March 25.
"We're fixing to come back in the next couple of weeks and do a big mileage test with some carburetor work," said Steve Allen, who oversees the truck program at ECR Engines. "There are so many avenues we can go down the road at this place. This surface is so much like the old Rockingham track, Darlington when it had the rock in it. "You look at the places we go and size-wise, it's a lot like Richmond, Iowa, places like that. The corners aren't as tight as your Martinsville and your small Rockingham track, so it's a whole different corner speed deal. Of course, you've got the elevation change from turns one and two to (turns) three and four."
Allen said he was surprised at the track's condition when he arrived Wednesday morning.
"It's one of the smoother tracks and the surface has held up really good for not having any races on it for so many years," Allen said.
North Wilkesboro Speedway last hosted a race in the fall of 1996.
"There are some race tracks we race at now that the surface is worse than this," Allen continued. "The biggest thing they need to do is fill up some of the cracks and put a sealer on it. They've already talked to people about that and it'll be good to go. It's really smooth."
Dillon and Allen both noted the track possessed "character."
"It's got a few different bumps, which give it character, which some of the tracks today really lack," Dillon said. "This place has character where other places are so smooth that it makes it a little rougher to figure out things. Just by riding different lines, you can figure out something that will give you speed here, which made this place race so well back in the day. I think every time I've gone out I've picked up a little bit just by moving my line around, which is cool because you don't usually get that today."
For Allen, Wednesday's trip to North Wilkesboro Speedway rekindled some special memories.
"I worked for (Robert) Yates when Ernie (Irvan) had his comeback race here," Allen recalled. "That was so emotional for all of us because he almost died and for him to come back and run as good as he did that day, it was special. I also remember when Davey (Allison) won here. He beat Rusty (Wallace) and he dedicated the race to his grandfather, who had just passed away a week before.
"It's so close to home. We used to all ride our motorcycles here. There's nothing more in the world that I would like than to have another Cup race here."
A flat-head Ford race is scheduled for NWS on May 15 when the facility hosts the premier of the movie "Red Dirt Rising." Three major race weekends are scheduled over a two-month period in 2010, beginning with Labor Day weekend and ending in late October.
-source: deb williams