Xpress Motorsports News 98-09-01

Life in the Pits It's been seven races since the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series has started using traditional pit stops as used in most other NASCAR touring series. Randy Tolsma, driver of the No. 61 IWX Motor Freight Chevrolet, is finding a lot...

Life in the Pits

It's been seven races since the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series has started using traditional pit stops as used in most other NASCAR touring series. Randy Tolsma, driver of the No. 61 IWX Motor Freight Chevrolet, is finding a lot of advantages in having the pit stops.

"The pit stops allow us to adjust our truck," said the 32-year old Meridian, Idaho native. "The race at Nashville (Aug. 15) is a great example. Our truck wasn't that good at the beginning of the race. If we had to wait for the old halfway break we would have been a lap down.

"As it turned out, we were able to stop and make the truck better," he continued. "Then, late in the race we used some pit strategy that gave us fresher tires than a lot of other trucks. That allowed us to race to a sixth- place finish. With Dave Fuge calling the shots and the great work of our pit crew, I see the pit stops as a big advantage for us."

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New Additions at Xpress

Xpress Motorsports, the No. 61 IWX Motor Freight NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team, continues to grow. Recent additions are Ernie Cope and Roy Gidlund.

Cope, 29, has joined the team as shop foreman and "car boss" at the track. Cope was formerly crew chief for the Gloy-Rahal Racing NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team. He also has driven in NASCAR races including one start in a NASCAR Winston Cup event at Phoenix International Raceway. He is cousin to NASCAR Winston Cup driver Derrike Cope.

Gidlund, 38, has joined the team as a general mechanic at the shop and a tire changer on the teams pit stops. Gidlund's past experience is with American Equipment Racing (NASCAR Winston Cup Series), Badcock Racing (NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division) and Ernie Cope Racing (NASCAR Winston West Series).

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Randy Tolsma's Weekend Off

While the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series enjoys an off weekend this week (Sept. 5-6), Randy Tolsma will find himself behind the wheel of a race car. He will find himself behind that wheel at the world's most famous speedway.

Tolsma will be part of the Richard Petty Driving Experience team making their first ever offering at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Tolsma will be giving rides to those who are participating in the ride-along program at the historic 2.5-mile speedway.

"Indianapolis is such a special place," said Tolsma, who attempted to qualify for the 1996 Indianapolis 500. "Every kid who dreams about racing, dreams about Indy. This is an opportunity for dreams to come true, as the Richard Petty Driving Experience will give fans the chance to be on the famous speedway. It also is a continuation of my dream. There is no place like Indianapolis and I'm looking forward to a few more laps around there."

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Phew! What a Month

The month of August has been very hectic for the Xpress Motorsports team. Here is a day-by-day look at the team's itinerary from July 29 through August: July 29 - Traveled to Indianapolis Raceway Park July 30 - Raced at Indianapolis Raceway Park July 31 - Traveled from Indianapolis to New Hampshire Aug. 1-2 - Raced at New Hampshire International Speedway Aug. 3 - Returned to Mooresville from New Hampshire Aug. 4-6 - Full Days at Xpress Motorsports shop in Mooresville Aug. 7 - Traveled to and Inspection at Flemington (N.J.) Speedway Aug. 8 - Raced at Flemington Speedway Aug. 9 - Traveled Back to Mooresville, NC. Aug. 10 - Full Day at Xpress Motorsports shop Aug. 11 - Traveled To Louisville (Ky.) for test Aug. 12-13 - Tested at Louisville Motor Speedway Aug. 14-15 - Raced at Nashville (Tenn.) Speedway USA Aug. 16 - Traveled from Nashville to Memphis Aug. 17 - 18 - Tested at Memphis (Tenn.) Motorsports Park Aug. 19 - Full Day at Xpress Motorsports Shop Aug. 20 - Traveled to Topeka (Kan.) Aug. 21 - Test Day at Heartland Park Topeka Aug. 22-23 - Raced at Heartland Park Topeka Aug. 24 - 26 - Full Day at Xpress Motorsports Shop Aug. 27 - Traveled to Louisville Aug. 28-29 - Raced at Louisville Motor Speedway Aug. 30 - DAY OFF Aug 31 - Full Day at Xpress Motorsports

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What's Next

The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series hits high gear again next week with the Virginia Is For Lovers 200 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway on Thursday, Sept. 10 and the Memphis 200 at Memphis (Tenn.) Motorsports Park on Aug. 13. Randy Tolsma and the IWX Motor Freight team are looking to turn some recent bad luck around in the pair of events.

Tolsma is the all-time speed record holder at the .75-mile Richmond International Raceway. On June 15, 1996, he toured the speedway in 20.552 seconds for an average speed of 131.374 in a USAC Silver Crown car. Familiarity with a speedway breeds confidence in Tolsma.

"I'm really excited to be going back to Richmond," said Tolsma. "Last year this was the race that started turning our year around. We finished ninth there and I could sense the team was starting to really come together. I think the Silver Crown experience helps a little, but another year in the trucks and returning to a track we ran well at last year will make us strong."

The second half of the double-header this weekend is at the brand new .75-mile Memphis Motorsports Park. Tolsma recently completed a test at the speedway and is confident of the effort that will take place there.

"I think we will be awful strong at Memphis," said Tolsma. "It was probably the best test I've ever been involved with. We not only have a good amount of information about our race setup, but we also put a lot of effort into our qualifying package. I've never felt better leaving a test than I did as we left Memphis.

"It's a great race track," he continued. "While the track is d-shaped it doesn't drive like that. The long straightaways and tight corners make it drive more like a true oval. You don't notice to curved stretch of the track like you do at Richmond or Pikes Peak. I like this kind of track and I'm really looking forward to our trip there."

IWX Motor Freight is a Springfield, Mo. based trucking firm having a fleet of 400 trucks. IWX serves 48 states and annually the trucks will log more than 98 million miles.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Derrike Cope , Richard Petty , Randy Tolsma