The Engineering Behind Dodge NCTS Racing

AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Feb. 11, 2000 -- Preparing for the season-opening NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) race is difficult, but when it's at historic Daytona International Speedway, the challenges - especially engineering - are daunting. ...

AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Feb. 11, 2000 -- Preparing for the season-opening NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) race is difficult, but when it's at historic Daytona International Speedway, the challenges - especially engineering - are daunting. Dodge engineers have been working closely with NASCAR and the Dodge race teams to develop an engine program and aerodynamic package for the Dodge Rams which they expect to be competitive at the Feb. 18 NCTS season-opener in Daytona. "We've worked hard to modify an engine package which provides increased power while maintaining durability, and it certainly has been challenging," said John Wehrly, NASCAR Truck Engineering Program Manager. "The engines turn close to 9,000 rpm consistently throughout the race, and that becomes a strain on the motor. There's no doubt that Daytona will be the toughest engine test yet for the truck series." Pre-season testing of the Dodge Rams at Daytona yielded impressive speeds. Mike Cope, driver of the #86 RC Cola Dodge, had the fastest time at Daytona during the first session of the season, turning a 48-second lap of the track at 187 mph. "At the first Daytona test we made a lot of gains," said Cope. "We found everything: drafting, tire wear, aero package, gas mileage. We were able to run with Dennis Setzer (driver of the #1 Mopar Dodge) and get a quick lap. The draft will be the key factor at Daytona." The size of the Daytona track - 2.5 miles - and the speeds which can be reached, make the Speedway one of the most demanding tracks on the 2000 NCTS schedule from an aerodynamic standpoint. In an effort to make the Dodge Ram the most competitive body on the track, Dodge has used information learned at Daytona test sessions and time in the Lockheed wind. "Dodge has worked with NASCAR to develop a stable, high-downforce aerodynamics package specifically for Daytona," said Wehrly. "Dodge also helped NASCAR develop special 'flickers' (a front fender wheel well spoiler) that all Daytona competitors will use. "The tracks at Michigan and California are pretty similar to what we'll face in Daytona," said Wehrly, "and Dodge placed four trucks in the top 10 at both of those tracks in 1999. So we're pretty confident heading into Daytona."

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Dennis Setzer