OLI Excels in First NASCAR Test In the blistering heat of North Carolina Oli Wilkinson had his first test in a Nascar Weekly Racing Series car yesterday afternoon at Hickory Motor Speedway (HMS) and received praise for his ability and ...
OLI Excels in First NASCAR Test
In the blistering heat of North Carolina Oli Wilkinson had his first test in a Nascar Weekly Racing Series car yesterday afternoon at Hickory Motor Speedway (HMS) and received praise for his ability and effort.
The 27 year old driver from London (UK) who is currently lying 5th in the points standings of the tough SEAT Cupra Cup Championship completed 116 laps of the Worlds most famous short-track oval onboard the Lackey Racing/Lackey Grading/G.E.M Constructors backed Chevy Monte Carlo.
He commented "I have always followed NASCAR since I was first interested in racing and I wanted to come over to North Carolina to see what it was all about. I had a chat with Andy Woolgar who works with European drivers looking to break into the sport and he arranged for me to test here today and to see first hand how this opportunity could be good for my career".
Car owner Mike Lackey, who has nurtured some of Nascar's finest talent including Jerry Nadeau and Ken Schrader over the years, was hugely impressed with Wilkinson's performance. "We can take this driver and win races with him. He has a lot of natural ability and has the right approach. You would not think this was his first time in a Nascar. I am very pleased with him".
Wilkinson, backed by UK radio show Talk Sport 1089/1053am, Omnetica and Collectiques.co.uk started his test on very old tires which had seen a race distance and a lot of test mileage. However he used these to great effect, learning the track and getting comfortable in the car, and he still managed to put in a half decent lap time with them. "I got down to the high 16's in the first run, and as my confidence grew I became more consistent and my times came down to 16.2's".
After some 90 laps were completed on the old tires his team, headed up by previous HMS Track Champion Mark Setzer and his father Tom, decided it was time to see what the young driver could achieve on fresh rubber. So 4 virtually new Goodyears were bolted on and Oli took to the track again.
His confidence grew as the car began to work with him, and he set a very impressive 15.8 second lap followed consistently by others in the high 15's and very low 16's. At this point his team was thrilled with his effort.
Mark Setzer commented "Oli is one of the best drivers from Europe I have seen Andy Woolgar (Mimsport UK Driver Management) bring across. He is confident, easy with the car and incredibly smooth, and he listens to and takes advice. He will be a race winner here at Hickory there is no doubt".
Oli summed up his experience "I came out here with an open mind and I have seen a lot in the past few days, from a Hooters Pro-Cup race at Hickory, where the atmosphere was electric, to meeting some of the big teams in Nextel Cup and Busch Series. The test taught me a lot and driving these cars is as tough as anything I have driven, but also a lot of fun. I hope to be able to put a program of races together after my UK season has finished".