Peters at Phoenix ...Timothy Peters has made two starts at the 1-mile Phoenix International Raceway, both with Red Horse Racing. He improved on his 16th-place finish in 2009 to come home 13th (after starting sixth) in 2010. He has completed every lap at Phoenix. Peters also has a Nationwide Series start at Phoenix, finishing 13th in 2007 with Richard Childress Racing.
Timothy Peters Quotes
When you made the final pit stop at Daytona, crew chief Butch Hylton was talking about points. Was that a sign how important points are, even in the first race? "That last wreck, I was on the brakes pretty hard, and I knew I locked up one of the front tires. When we went back from red to yellow, the truck was vibrating pretty hard in the steering. I radioed into Butch, and he made a great call to come down and take four fresh Goodyear Wranglers. It's just being cautious. If we had not stopped, I don't think we could've finished. I think the tire would've popped. It's better to finish 11th than to finish 20th, especially with the way the points are now."
Are you happy to get away from superspeedway racing, where there is less in your control than at a place like Phoenix? Does the season start now? "I guess you could say the season does start now. I don't want to get away from speedway racing because we won the (Daytona) race last year and felt like we had a good shot to do better than the result that we had. Going to Phoenix, I know Butch and all people who are new to the crew have had success there in the past. Phoenix is really not a great track for me in the past, but we're working hard to have something that is capable of being driven well. That's going to help my confidence even more. I'm looking forward to getting to Phoenix. I think we're going to have a solid run. We'll see what happens."
You improved over your first start at Phoenix. Is that a place where it simply takes time to learn? "I'm still learning and gaining experience. Yes, it takes a lot of experience to get around there. I learned from the veterans every time we take the green flag. Phoenix is a very difficult place to get around. It's been an Achilles' heel for me. We started sixth last year and we finished 13th. Hopefully we can improve both."
Each end of the track is different. Some say it's a compromise as to which end you want to be good. Which end do you prefer in which to be good? "It's hard for me to answer that question because I want to be good in both ends."
Crew chief Butch Hylton Quotes
Many people say the first race after Daytona is the first "real" race. Do you guys feel that way? Is this a way to see how you measure up against the competition? "I don't know if it's how you measure up. You can't really do that in one week. But this is really the first race where the driver has to lift and brake. It'll be more up to him, and we've got to make the chassis handle like he needs it to to do what he needs to do. That'll become a weekly thing until we go back to Talladega."
Timothy says he doesn't like to compromise at Phoenix. Which end of the track is more important to you? "You've got to find a balance. And he's got to learn to touch the apron in (Turns) 1 and 2, because if you get it right in 3 and 4, it's going to be too tight in 1 and 2. You've got to use the apron a little bit to get it to turn. You see a lot of the veteran guys clip the apron at about the 3/8ths mark of the corner to de-wedge the truck and get it to turn."
So the truck really has to handle in 3 and 4? "Yes, that's the speed corner. You've got to be able to position yourself to get underneath somebody to get down into 1 a lot better. The outside of 1 works pretty well, so you've got to get a little bit of an advantage dropping down into 1 to be able to clear him."
Daytona wasn't the finish you guys wanted. But in the big picture, was it good? "If you go back and look at the race, if the hood doesn't blow up on the 66 truck while we're leading the race, we're probably leading all the way to the white flag. We had put ourselves in position to win. Just didn't work out. That's what speedway racing is; it's kind of a crapshoot. We missed the wrecks, so that's a really good thing. A lot of the guys we're going to have to race for this championship didn't miss the wrecks, so we've got a little jump on them."
You brought Timothy in the pits after the last wreck to change tires and add fuel. Does that show how important points are, even this early in the season? "Every point counts, especially in the new system. If we would've stayed out and taken a chance and popped a tire, we would've finished with the guys in the back. It was the lesser of two evils to me. You can't take that chance, especially at those speeds. We really didn't need to tear that truck up. We have a really good base for Talladega, and I've got something to work with. Most people don't. Sitting on top of the box, it was a no-brainer to me."
Equipment Information ... Primary truck: Chassis No. 103. "A complete rebuild, all the way to the chassis," crew chief Butch Hylton says. Backup: Chassis No. 85