Robert Yates Racing Teams Look To Sustain Momentum With Kentucky Test
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup drivers Dale Jarrett and Elliott Sadler plan to explore aero, shock and engine packages during tomorrow's scheduled test at Kentucky Speedway. The Robert Yates Racing duo postponed testing today due to cold, damp weather conditions.
"We have an agenda of things we want to try. This is a good racetrack to test aero packages, chassis and shock packages," Jarrett said. "There are a lot of things we can accomplish here. I don't know that we're going to be able to use (the information) at Vegas, but the opportunity is there to learn things that may work at Las Vegas or Atlanta. That's the good thing about coming here, it's a good opportunity to try new cars and new set-ups."
The 1999 series champion matched his worst points finish of 26th last season and broke his string of seven straight top-10 points finishes. He started 2003 with a 10th-place finish at Daytona and a win at Rockingham, but several changes in his team personnel led to inconsistent results.
Jarrett has rebounded well to start 2004. He followed his Daytona Bud Shootout win with his second consecutive 10th-place finish in the Daytona 500. He was well on his way to a top-10 finish at Rockingham this past Sunday before his engine gave way and forced a 40th-place finish.
He will enter the March 7 race at Las Vegas 26th in the series standings, but is optimistic about his team's chances for success based on his strong performance in Daytona, hard work by his crew, and the leadership provided by new crew chief Mike Ford. Ford was a member of Jarrett's 1999 championship team and spent the past three seasons working with veteran driver Bill Elliott and Evernham Motorsports.
"As hard as our guys worked throughout the winter to get prepared, it's important to have good runs. Giving those guys something back for their efforts means as much to us as anything," Jarrett said. "Mike brings leadership, and that's something we've really missed the last couple of years. That's not putting anyone down, it's just that there are certain people made for that position and know how to run it. It's a difficult job. I'm very impressed with Mike's skills and knowledge in all areas. That's the biggest thing we have going for us right now. We don't have questions about aero package and chassis, we have a good handle on that right now. It makes a tremendous difference when you hit the racetrack knowing the car is going to be good."
Sadler will enter the Las Vegas race eighth in the series standings after winning a Twin 125 qualifying race in Daytona, taking a seventh-place finish in the Daytona 500, and an 18th-place finish at Rockingham. He finds himself in the top-10 in the series standings for the first time since April 2003.
"We're definitely on a natural high right now and we've got some momentum. We're top-10 in points, even with the bad luck we had at Rockingham. We had a top-10 go at Rockingham until something went through our (car) nose. My guys have done a lot of homework this winter. We feel like we're more prepared than ever. The (Yates) teams are working closer than they've ever been, Mike (Ford) and (Sadler's Crew Chief) Todd (Parrott) are doing good. So, it's 'so far so good' for the M&M's team. We tested very, very fast at Vegas and are looking forward to the race in Atlanta. We should be in good shape."
Sadler and his No. 38 team are scheduled to test engine packages tomorrow.
"The 88 is doing some chassis stuff and the 38 is doing engine package stuff. It's stuff that's going to benefit everybody, not only on horsepower, but gas mileage and tuning and things like that. We've got a lot of work to do. We've got a lot of motors being flown in tonight for tomorrow. I was the motor guy at Daytona and it seemed to work out good with four Yates motors in the top-five for qualifying."
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series teams also scheduled to test at Kentucky Speedway tomorrow include Penske South (Rusty Wallace), Petty Enterprises (Jeff Green) and Andy Petree Racing (Paul Menard). PPI Motorsports (Ricky Craven) and Petty Enterprises (Jeff Green) are scheduled for Feb. 26. Fans can view testing from the Turn 3 Fan Center.
~ Kentucky Speedway ~