MOORESVILLE, NC (July 13, 2004) -Gateway International Raceway has been a mixed bag for NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Andy Houston. When it comes to qualifying the 33-year-old Hickory, NC native has been very near the top of the board with...
MOORESVILLE, NC (July 13, 2004) -Gateway International Raceway has been a mixed bag for NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Andy Houston. When it comes to qualifying the 33-year-old Hickory, NC native has been very near the top of the board with two top-five starting spots in three NCTS events. Good finishes however have eluded the driver of the Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge. The quirky little 1.25 mile egg-shaped oval has provided a real challenge for the three-time NCTS race winner. That is a situation Houston hopes to rectify in this Saturday's Ram Tough 200.
"It hasn't been very kind to me at all to be honest with you," Houston said. "When I drove the 60 truck it seemed like we had a lot of tire problems. I drove Ed Rensi's Busch car at Gateway one year and we finished 17th in it and didn't have any tire problems. I have kind of convinced myself that it wasn't me that was causing the tire problems, it was something else. I like Gateway. It is a neat little racetrack. You have to shift going down into turn one, some drivers shift religiously, some shift when they want to and some don't shift at all. There are two or three ways to try and get around the place but it seems like the best option is to downshift going into turn one."
Gateway International Raceway is a uniquely shaped track. Since its inception in 1997, teams have tried a variety of approaches to master the venue. Turns one and two are tight, narrow and banked. Turns three and four are flat and sweeping. The consensus among many is that you may have to give up some speed on one end of the racetrack to gain speed on the other end.
"In some respects that is true but you just try to get it as good as you can get it everywhere on the track," Houston claimed. "Really the key at Gateway is getting off of turn two. If you can do that and get down the back straightaway, you can carry a lot of speed and a lot of momentum through turns three and four and back to the start-finish line. A large percentage of your lap is determined by how you get off of turn two. I try not to compromise and I try not to give up anything anywhere on the racetrack but it is so different on both ends you are going to have really different handling characteristics on both ends of the racetrack. It is an odd layout and it has not been kind to me, but with this group of guys anything is possible. I think we can go up there and have a shot at winning the race."
The Ram Tough 200 at Gateway International Raceway is scheduled for Saturday July 17th. The NCTS event will be broadcast live nationally by the Speed Channel, MRN Radio and XM Satellite Radio at 8pm ET.