NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competitors took to the newly repaved Lowe's Motor Speedway on Thursday for an open test session prior to Friday night's Quaker Steak & Lube 200. Terry Cook, who finished second in last year's event, shared his...
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competitors took to the newly repaved Lowe's Motor Speedway on Thursday for an open test session prior to Friday night's Quaker Steak & Lube 200. Terry Cook, who finished second in last year's event, shared his thoughts on the track surface and the importance of open test sessions given NASCAR's rules that limit testing.
TERRY COOK-10-Ford Power Stroke Diesel by Int'l F-150
WHAT ARE YOUR FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF THE NEW TRACK SURFACE? "Well, I think the surface is phenomenal. I think the company that did it, reading the press releases, they've done many race tracks before, and they knew what they were doing. I cannot be any more happy with the race surface. Now talking about the tire, that may be a different story. Obviously, Goodyear was concerned and they brought a very conservative tire. I personally don't have a problem with it running by myself. I think that I was probably more shocked that it has as much grip as it does. Maybe I got gun shy listening to everybody after the first two tests - the Busch test and the Cup test - about how little grip it actually had. I was very surprised, and it has grip, and you're off the throttle a lot more than you were here last year. My concern is that will we be able to race side by side lap after lap, just for the fact it takes 40, 50 or 60 laps to see great speeds out of these tires. That's more what I'm concerned about."
DO YOU THINK THE TRUCK RACE TOMORROW NIGHT WILL GENERATE A LOT OF INTEREST FROM CUP AND BUSCH DRIVERS BECAUSE IT'S THE FIRST RACE ON THE NEW SURFACE? "I definitely think we will. I think that the truck race will be the most tuned in race by our fellow competitors than any race this year just for that fact that it will be a good glimpse into the other races. Ourselves, and other teams as well, are already talking about doing an entire race on the same set of tires. If your tires' fastest laps are around lap 80 or 90, and the race is only 134 laps, and if you throw in the caution laps as well, it sounds to me like you're going to run the whole race on one set of tires. Obviously, you're going to have to stop for fuel twice, but it might be two fuel stops and then just keep on digging and work track position as best you can. Had it not been for needing spare tires - NASCAR allots us four sets every week - and maybe we can save a little money this weekend and just mount one set of tires."
DID THE TRACK LOSE THE CHARACTERIZES THAT MADE IT UNIQUE TO LOWE'S MOTOR SPEEDWAY? "To me, it's the same old Charlotte because you drive off into turn one with such a transition from a flat track into the huge banking in turn one and two. Our last time on the track we were carrying a little bit more speed. Each time that we go out - just like everybody else - you're picking up more speed because you get a few more laps on the tires. Right now you're still off the throttle through one and two, but as we carry more speed through the race, we can usually go up the track. Maybe, and this is a big maybe, by the end of the day we might be able to flatfoot it through there on some older tires. Turn three and four, the Humpy Bumps are gone, but I truly remember this track went through a transition last year for the truck race. When they ground the track they pretty much shaved those bumps out, so to me, it's pretty much the same old Charlotte right now."
WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE FIVE OPTIONAL TEST DATES THIS SEASON, AND WILL THE INFORMATION GATHERED TODAY BE APPLICABLE TO OTHER 1.5-MILE TRACKS? "I don't know if it will help us anywhere else. We were fortunate that the Ford Power Stroke Diesel by International race team just came off a two-day test at Chicagoland. We were very fortunate to have a brand new Ford Racing Technology FRT chassis. It's the first one ever raced on a speedway that I'm aware of, and we tested with it for two days at Chicagoland. We actually didn't plan on racing here this weekend, but it tested so well at Chicagoland that we decided to bring it here, and the results are showing early on that it's a fantastic chassis. It's a credit to all of the people at Ford Racing for designing this chassis and giving us the opportunity to race it. I think we're going to be building many more in the near future. That in itself, I think the Chicagoland test more suited us for all of the other tracks coming up. The optional test days, at a venue like this, you're mainly gearing up that venue. I don't know that we're trying stuff outside the box for other tracks, it's just mainly for this. Just like when we go to Mansfield next, we get a half of a day to test there and it will strictly be for Mansfield. When we go to Las Vegas later in the year and test there, with the new configuration of Las Vegas, maybe some stuff will carry over to Homestead, but it's hard to say. Most of the optional test days that NASCAR has for the truck series are geared strictly for that race track."