DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 16, 2000) Unlike many of the drivers who will compete in the inaugural NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event at Daytona International Speedway, brothers Andy and Marty Houston will be able to draw on previous racing ...
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 16, 2000) Unlike many of the drivers who will compete in the inaugural NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event at Daytona International Speedway, brothers Andy and Marty Houston will be able to draw on previous racing experience -- and a legacy -- at the famed 2.5-mile trioval. "We really ran well both times I raced at Daytona, but our luck wasn't that great," said younger brother Andy Houston, who has a pair of Goody's Dash Series, NASCAR Touring, starts at the track. "The first time I ran there in 1996, I started 21st and was running eighth when the rear end gear burned up.
"That was a real shame because it was still pretty early in the race and we had made some significant gains. In 1997, I was running seventh and we got in a wreck late in the race. We were very competitive both times, we just didn't have much luck. I'd like to think we'll turn that around in the trucks."
The elder Houston brother, Marty, has also competed at Daytona in Goody's Dash Series cars. Although his experience was also minimal, he put it to good use Wednesday in Bud Pole Qualifying, slotting into the fourth spot for the Friday morning inaugural. Marty Houston ran a lap of 185.033 mph in his No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Chevrolet.
Andy Houston, celebrating a new associate sponsorship with Adaboy.com, turned a lap of 184.729 mph late in the session and will line up sixth. The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series program will debut at the first two events of the 2000 season at Daytona and Homestead, Fla.
While there are plenty of differences between a Goody's Dash Series car and a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series mount -- most notably, a couple of cylinders -- Andy Houston is quick to note that good luck is universal. He also quickly became aware of the major driving differences between the two vehicles during off-season testing at Daytona.
"The trucks are a lot more stable at Daytona than the Goody's Dash cars were," said Houston, driver of the No. 60 CAT Rental Stores Chevrolet. "The trucks really suck down to the race track. A lot of that has to do with the greater weight and the longer wheelbase of the trucks.
"A Goody's Dash car only weighs 2600 pounds and those things are jumping all over the place. You really feel the bumps in one of those cars. The trucks aren't like that. They drive really good and stick to the track well."
Andy Houston's pre-season testing performance indicates his Chevy Silverado stuck better than almost everyone else's mount as he rolled to a fast lap of 189.930 miles per hour, good enough for fourth overall in the test sessions.
"I wasn't surprised that we ran that well in the test," said Houston. "We were one of the teams that went to the NASCAR test at Daytona last summer and we ran a lot faster then. NASCAR has come up with some really good rules to slow the trucks down. Now we have a taller spoiler and we don't have the air induction on the air cleaner.
"There are about three or four other things they did that also really helped. In terms of real speed, we're not that fast. If you get three or four trucks together, that's another deal. You can really pick up some speed in the draft."
In addition to the solid test speed, Houston and his Addington Racing team led by crew chief Rick Ren also discovered some of the subtleties of racing at Daytona.
"We noticed in testing that the draft is going to be a big factor at Daytona," indicated Houston. "It might be more important for the trucks than it is for the Winston Cup or Busch cars. Maybe, my experience in the Goody's Dash Series will help me a little more in the draft because I know what takes place there.
"You have to take advantage of any little edge you might have."
Houston's familiarity with Daytona also goes a little deeper than his two previous driving tours of track. The son of legendary NASCAR Busch Series driver Tommy Houston, Andy grew up watching his dad compete in an series-record 417 events, scoring 24 victories in the process.
Beginning in 1982, the Houston family made the trek to Daytona every February in search of Victory Lane. While Tommy Houston was never able to break through and win at Daytona, he still holds the NASCAR Busch Series qualifying record of more than 194 mph.
Andy Houston thinks his chances of victory this time around are excellent.
"I feel like I have a great shot to win the race," Houston said. "I know a lot of guys think that, but I'm very confident we have the right combination. We have a great truck and if we can get a few breaks and have good luck, I know we can win. It'll be a survival race. There will probably be some attrition and there's bound to be some accidents. I think if you can hang in there all day, you can have a good shot to win at the finish.
"I'm really looking forward to racing at Daytona -- can't wait. I think NASCAR is making the right moves to make the Craftsman Truck Series a big success. Racing at Daytona is just one part of that. It would be the biggest event of my career to win at Daytona.
"Just racing there for the first time a couple of years ago was an accomplishment in itself. Daytona has so much heritage and history. My family has a lot of history there too. To pull into Victory Lane there would be a dream come true. It's not an unrealistic goal and I'm really looking forward to the challenge."
He hopes his new associate will help. Adaboy.com is a new company that has developed the technology that will dramatically alter the way advertising is seen and presented on the Internet.
"NASCAR has proven to be an exceptionally strong marketing tool and our involvement with Addington Racing is an excellent stage to introduce the company to the public," said Adaboy.com president and CEO Craig Campbell. "The opportunity to partner with Addington Racing, Andy Houston and the CAT Rental Stores team for the first NCTS event at Daytona was simply too good to pass up. This relationship could very well serve as the springboard for Adaboy.com to become a major NASCAR sponsor in the future."