Daytona test notes 2002-01-13

Weather shortens drafting day at Daytona NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Preseason Thunder ends. DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 13, 2003) - With many in the garage already having returned to their race shops, seven remaining NASCAR Craftsman Truck...

Weather shortens drafting day at Daytona
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Preseason Thunder ends.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 13, 2003) - With many in the garage already having returned to their race shops, seven remaining NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series teams got in a weather-shortened day of drafting practice as their segment of Preseason Thunder was completed Monday at Daytona International Speedway.

Brendan Gaughan (No. 62 Orleans Hotel Dodge) and Dennis Setzer (No. 46 ACXIOM Chevrolet) paced a session of less than two hours that began after noon and ended at 2 p.m. Gaughan's speed was 182.445 mph while Setzer was clocked at 182.441.

Neither Bobby Hamilton Racing nor Ultra Motorsports - whose combined five Dodge Ram trucks dominated single-truck testing on Jan. 11-12 - participated in the final test session. Hamilton (No. 4 Square D Dodge) posted the fastest single-truck lap of 182.419. The fourth Florida Dodge Dealers 250 will be held on Friday, Feb. 14.

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Director Wayne Auton called the three-day test a success. "The air intake package we put on the trucks seems to have done a pretty good job slowing the trucks down," said Auton, pointing to a nearly five mile per hour reduction in test speeds from the 2002 Bud Pole speed of more than 187 mph.

"There always are some disparities in the aero package from (brand of) truck to truck. We are continuing to look for information, which will enable us to close the gap between the three manufacturers. We've gotten a lot of positive feedback from the teams which we will be evaluating."

Although his Chevrolet was not ranked among the fastest during single-truck runs, David Starr expressed satisfaction with his three days at the 2.5-mile superspeedway. Starr, who finished seventh in last year's Florida Dodge Dealers 250, expects to be among top contenders when practice resumes on Monday, Feb. 10.

"It's been a great test for my team because we've been putting stuff on the truck and see if the truck goes faster and then taking stuff off and seeing what happens," said the 35-year-old Houston native, fifth-place finisher in 2002 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship standings.

"(The test) kind of lets you know where you stand among your make (and) you kind of weigh yourselves against the Fords and Dodges, too. We've learned what we wanted to learn about our qualifying run. We also got out there and did a lot of drafting. Hopefully, when we come back for Speedweeks, we can make the Chevrolets faster."

Starr's best single-truck lap - 178.735 - was posted Sunday morning, ranking eighth and first among competitors driving Chevrolets in that session.

The winner of last year's Las Vegas 350 isn't worried about sheer speed, believing that the Daytona draft will play a big role in who wins this year's season opening race.

"You can qualify 25th or 30th here and - 10 laps later - you can be leading the race," said Starr. "The leaders punch such a big hole in the air that everybody gets a run from behind. It's exciting to be out there. We're three or four wide and it's constant passing."

That said Starr is looking for the final piece of the puzzle that will take his Silverado to Victory Lane.

"That part I haven't figured out is when you get to the front how you stay there," he said.

Preseason Thunder continues at Daytona Jan. 14-16 when the NASCAR Winston Cup teams return. The second round of testing is reserved for teams with owners who had even-numbered finishes in the 2002 owners points. Last week's three-day test run was for the "odds".

NEWS OF NOTE

Wood excited about working with Monsam *Third-year competitor Jon Wood looks forward to working with NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series veteran John Monsam, who counts series victories with Mike Bliss, Rick Carelli, Ron Hornaday Jr. and Dennis Setzer. Wood (No. 50 U.S. Navy Ford) went through the 2002 season without a top-five finish. "He's made a career out of being a truck series crew chief, this is all he's ever done," said Wood. "He did do some NASCAR Winston Cup Series stuff but when you get somebody as experienced in truck racing, it can't be anything but beneficial."

Harvick announces 2002 schedule * Although Kevin Harvick didn't test his No. 6 Chevrolet during Preseason Thunder, the NASCAR Winston Cup competitor announced his team enter the Florida Dodge Dealers 250 among 10 to 15 series races in 2002. NASCAR Busch Series veteran and current crew chief Ed Berrier will be behind the wheel at Daytona. "We were pleased with our effort right out of the box," said Harvick, who won last year's Chevy Silverado 150 at Phoenix International Raceway. Harvick's first start is set for Darlington Raceway on March 14. Brandon Miller, a 21-year-old Bakersfield, Calif. competitor gets the call the following week at his home track, Mesa Marin Raceway.

Another Raybestos Rookie declares * University of Missouri student Carl Edwards, 23, has joined Tina Gordon in the chase for the 2003 Raybestos Rookie-of-the Year title. Edwards will drive the No. 63 Mittler Bros. Machine and Tool Ford, a truck in which he gave the St. Louis-area team its first series top-10 finish last July at Kansas Speedway. Edwards recorded Sunday's sixth-fastest speed, a lap of 179.603. "Last year, there were so many times we were doing well, like Indianapolis Raceway Park. We qualified fifth there and it really fun until the first pit stop where I made the mistake of driving past the pit stall," said Edwards, a substitute teacher. "I think if I can keep from making those mistakes and we can continue to have the lap-by-lap success that we've had, I think we're going to be all right."

Bill Lester hopes to improve in sophomore campaign * A year ago, Bill Lester (No. 8 Dodge Motorsports Dodge) had climbed to third-place in the Florida Dodge Dealers 250 before a lap 91 accident knocked the Oakland, Calif. competitor back to a finish of 18th. Lester, who qualified 19th, consistently was among the fastest six trucks in Preseason Thunder. "I'm living a dream right now. We made a big sacrifice, my wife and I did, back in 1998 when I left the high tech industry into the Great Unknown trying to become a professional race car driver full time," said Lester, whose wife Cheryl is expecting the couple's first child in March. "Everything has paid off."

All the testing sessions are open and free to the public with access to a section of the Oldfield Grandstand available through the lobby of DAYTONA USA Tickets to Speedweeks 2003 events are available online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling the Speedway ticket office at (386) 253-7223

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , David Starr , Kevin Harvick , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Dennis Setzer , Jon Wood , Tina Gordon , Ed Berrier , Rick Carelli , Bill Lester , Brendan Gaughan , Mike Bliss , Carl Edwards