Joel Kauffman Meshes With New Crew Chief in Successful Test; Team Preparing for Hooters Pro Cup North Opener with SoBo Test MOORESVILLE, NC (April 8, 2004) -- With a lot of off-season changes, a new crew chief, and the start of the 2004 season...
Joel Kauffman Meshes With New Crew Chief in Successful Test; Team Preparing for Hooters Pro Cup North Opener with SoBo Test
MOORESVILLE, NC (April 8, 2004) -- With a lot of off-season changes, a new crew chief, and the start of the 2004 season just over a week away, Joel Kauffman spent Tuesday testing his #44 L A West Luxury Vans/Choo Choo Customs Chevrolet at South Boston Speedway (VA). Now, the 18-year-old is ready for an all-out assault on the USAR Hooters Pro Cup competition in hopes of capturing the series championship.
The biggest changes came when Kauffman moved his race team from his home in Northern Indiana to Mooresville (NC) and hired veteran NASCAR crew chief Timmy Kohuth to oversee the operation. Meanwhile, the Hooters Pro Cup Series made several rule changes, the biggest being the switch to BFGoodrich radial tires in 2004, a change from the old Goodyear bias-ply tires.
All the changes meant preseason testing would be key for the team's success when it hits the track at South Boston on April 17 to open up the Hooters Northern Division season.
"It was a very important test session for us for many reasons and South Boston was the perfect place to do it," said Kauffman. "Of course, South Boston is where we open up the season, so we will be better prepared for that race. But also, Timmy has raced with the Craftsman Trucks there the last few years, where he has a couple of wins, so he likes the place. And I ran really well there last year, so it was just a good place for us to go because we both know the track and we've both had some success there.
"The main goal of the test was to really work on the communication between me and Timmy. By the end of the day, it came really easy. Timmy is very easy to get along with. He has so much experience that he has a bunch of options he can do to a car when he wants to make one change. We ran into a couple of problems, but we were able to get them all fixed. That just built the confidence in me and in him as well. I'd say if communication was our biggest goal, we were able to accomplish it."
It was also the first time Kauffman was on the new BFGoodrich tires in race conditions. Even though he has some experience with the BFGoodrich radials in ASA competition, Kauffman said the Pro Cup radials had a much different feel to them.
"I really like the tires. I think they will be great for racing and will make our racing strategies a little different this year than last," added Kauffman. "I would say the BFG tires feel like a soaked-up set for the Snowball Derby. They are really soft and have a lot of grip. They don't fall off the pace very quickly and they showed that at our test. If anything, they were quicker after 80 laps than on stickers, but of course, our car was set up better too."
In last year's South Boston event, Kauffman came home third, finishing behind two Southern Division drivers. It was one of three third-place finishes for Kauffman in 2003.
"Every change we made just helped the car out big time. I think the changes we made and the fact that the car got better all day long helped build the confidence that Timmy and I have in each other. At the end of the day, we ended up really good. We had old tires on and we were running low 16.20s. Mardy Lindley, who is always good in these cars, was running 16.40s and 50s on pretty new tires we were told, so we were pretty happy with the test and decided to pack it up and go home.
"I think if we can put some stickers on it with a few more minor changes, we'd have a great car for the race. I'm really excited to start the year now and get this thing going. I think it could be a big year for us."
Kauffman and Team LA West Racing will be competing for the Pro Cup Series championship in 2004.