Conrad looking to go from rookie contender to championship challenger on Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series. PUYALLUP, Wash. (March 23, 2002)& ...
Conrad looking to go from rookie contender to championship challenger on Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series.
PUYALLUP, Wash. (March 23, 2002)– Troy Conrad exercised a ton of patience in 2001 in his chase for the Totem Travel Rookie of the Year Award. Falling two points short to John Bender for the rookie crown has served as motivation for the new season he said. Conrad was one of the first drivers to enter the Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series, NASCAR Touring Big‘ O’ Tires 125, set for March 30 at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Wash.
“ The goal is the championship,” Conrad said.“ We didn’t win a single race (in 2001) but this year during the off season I did a lot research on these touring cars and hopefully it will pay off.”
Part of Conrad’s research led to making major set-up changes to his Pro Craft race car chassis, and investing in Ohlin shocks for a smoother ride around the seven tracks the series will visit this season.
“ I think the car will be better this year,” he said after the changes were completed on March 22.“ I had a theory on the front end geometry and I read some books that showed me I was going in the right direction.”
“ We changed the spindles, the roll center and we aren’t going to run economy shocks anymore. We’ve gone to the Ohlin’s and they appear to be good for slow, medium, and high speeds.”
New track surfaces were good for Conrad’s car last season he said. Surfaces that have a tenacity to wear on tires gave his Chevrolet Monte Carlo fits.
“ At the smoother tracks the car did very well, but we struggled at places like Tri-Cities, Yakima, and some others that seem to be a little rough (on tires). We were burning the right rear tire off by the end of the night,” Conrad said.
Making a change in the teams shock program may prove to be a key in challenging for the 2002 championship he added.
“ You can do a thousand times more things with these shocks than our old ones we were using.” Conrad said.“ We’re going to go after multiple wins and not hold back.”
Conrad was the highest finishing rookie (ninth place) in the Monroe season opener last season. He likes the .646-mile oval and said that exercising patience on March 30 will be a key for him to win the Big‘ O’ Tires 125.
“ I like the speed (at Monroe) and it seems to be a really good track for us,” he said.“ I don’t try to go lickety– split right off the bat because I don’t want to chew up tires.”
Stepping up his teams performance will be another key to challenging Kevin Hamlin and the rest of the series veterans for the Northwest crown.
“ This year you’re going to see just a little more aggressive driver, but I’m not going to be an idiot,” Conrad said.“ I’m going to fight a little harder for a position and stick it in some places we didn’t try last year.”
Conrad stressed that last season taught him to respect the fact that staying out of the way of the leaders will pay-off in 2002.
“ I raced my car to its potential and if somebody gained on me and I saw it was the leaders, I let them go by,” he said.“ I’ve got a good spotter and a great crew that kept me out of trouble.”
The Painter Logging Racing Team plans an all out assault on the series championship for the coming year.
If done right, attracting more sponsorship for the future will be the biggest return of the 2002 season Conrad said.“ We’re putting all of our eggs in one basket (in chasing a championship) and hoping to land more sponsors to keep the momentum up for years to come.”