Indianapolis - O'Reilly Raceway Park (ORP) could be viewed as the little track on the West side of town under the shadow of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the big track right smack in the middle of town and Mecca of the racing world. But to Team...
Indianapolis - O'Reilly Raceway Park (ORP) could be viewed as the little track on the West side of town under the shadow of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the big track right smack in the middle of town and Mecca of the racing world.
But to Team Chevy Silverado drivers, ORP has its own special mystique. The 0.686-mile track has been on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) schedule since the inaugural 1995 season and has produced snapshots of some of the greatest racing moments in the chronicles of the Series.
Dennis Setzer, No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Silverado, has clearly figured out how to navigate his way around ORP. With all the statistics pointing to his expertise at the track, Setzer is looking to Friday night's race to build the team's momentum for the remainder of the season.
"The key to a good run at ORP is getting your truck to turn in the center and then be able to drive off the corner," Setzer explained. "You have to be hooked up through and off both ends of the track. If you don't have a truck that will do what you need in the center of the corner, you can't set up to pass as you exit, which is where you have to make your moves. The truck that has this working for them is going to be the best at ORP.
"You can pass on either the inside or the outside, depending on how strong your truck is. If you can get along side someone in the center of corner, hold position coming off, then you can turn your truck inside and go under someone if truck turns well in the center. Otherwise drive off outside them and beat them down the straightaway. "
Ron Hornaday, Jr., No. 33 Camping World Silverado, has taken trips to victory lane at ORP in both the NCTS (1997) and the NASCAR Busch Series (NBS) (2000). With two victories (Charlotte and Dover), six top-five finishes and 12 top-10 runs in 13 races thus far in 2007, Hornaday is looking to the ORP race to continue his march for a third NCTS championship.
"Indianapolis is a fun track and I like that it's a one day show," said the two-time NCTS champion. "It's a very prestigious win. It's been a while since I won at ORP, and the past two years I have finished third, so I think we have a pretty good chance of doing a burnout at the end of the night."
Bill Lester, No. 15 Allstate Silverado, heads to ORP with the momentum of a great qualifying run and race finish at Kentucky Speedway.
"You really have to be on your toes at ORP," Lester said. "It is one of those tracks where qualifying position is very important and we plan on putting the Allstate Silverado upfront for the start of the race. The groove is much different then it is at most short tracks. You are really up close to the wall at ORP but you can still beat and bang with the other trucks all the way around track. You push up the racetrack in the middle of turns three and four, which really helps your exit. I know that Doug George (crew chief) and the guys on this team have put together a great truck for this weekend and I'm looking forward to putting on a good show for the fans.
"I am excited to have Allstate on board with Billy Ballew Motorsports this weekend. They are the title sponsor for Sunday's NEXTEL Cup race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in addition to being a part of the No. 15 Silverado team Friday night. Two lucky fans will also be a part of the team for the race after the drawing Allstate is having Friday at ORP. It is an honor to have Allstate on the race truck, and we look forward to bringing home a good run for them on Friday."
For Kraig Kinser, No. 47 Ginn Resorts Silverado, the annual visit to ORP is a homecoming of sorts. Kinser is from nearby Bloomington, IN and enjoys time with friends and family, a rare commodity when racing full-time in NASCAR.
"I am ready to get back to my home state of Indiana and race," said Kinser. "I have raced sprint cars there a ton, but this will be my second time racing at ORP. I know that track position there is key because it is easy to get behind and get caught up in someone else's mess or even get put a lap down. That track is small, so qualifying is going to be very important to guarantee a good starting position and keep the truck up towards the front. I am looking forward to heading back to the state I grew up in, and am confident we can get the run we are looking for in our Ginn Resorts Silverado Friday night."
Brendan Gaughan, No. 77 South Point Hotel Silverado, is looking to shake the string of bad luck that he says has plagued the team so far this season. With strong Indiana ties, Gaughan is hoping having a group of excited friends and family on hand Friday will break the jinx.
"ORP is a fun little place," said Gaughan. "It's the hometown of Jasper. I still have a lot of good friends with the Jasper Company. It's always nice to see my friends up there. A lot of relatives - my brother's in-laws are all from Indy. My list has like 30 people on it, so we'll have a whole bunch of friends and family up there to support us. We'll see if we can't put our South Point Chevy somewhere near the front and not have a tire blow out or the flux capacitor break or something stupid like that that seems to keep biting us these days.
"I've always said I hate short tracks. It doesn't mean that I'm not good at them. It just means that I hate them. ORP has always been one of my better short tracks. I always joke and say it's because it is a high groove short track. It's a short track that you don't run on the bottom, you run on the top. We all know that I like to run on top, so I think that's why I do well at it. We have a very solid race team. We've just got to find something to break this streak of bad luck."
Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender Willie Allen, No. 13 ThorSport Silverado, continues his season of firsts with Friday night's race at ORP. But with his background and success in late model short-track racing, the Tennessee native is looking forward to the challenge.
"I always look forward to short track racing so I'm excited about going to ORP," said Allen. "This is a driver's track. I love tracks that are tricky with a lot of character and ORP is definitely that kind of track. It's really important to qualify up front and have good pit stops. This is a tough track to pass on, so we hope to have a good starting position and maintain good track position throughout the race."
In a tight battle for the Raybestos Rookie title, Tim Sauter, No. 07 Lester Buildings/ ASI Limited Silverado, knows there is a race inside a race. With just a few points separating him and Allen, Sauter will have the experience of one previous NCTS start and four NBS ORP starts to draw from as he and Allen battle for the coveted ROY crown.
"I love racing at ORP," said Sauter. "It's back-home short track racing that most of us really enjoy. Our short-track program has really improved since the beginning of the year and I feel we should be able to get our Lester Buildings/ASI Limited Chevy into the top-10 at ORP."
-credit: gm racing