Dei, Petty Enterprises, Morgan-Mcclure Search For Competitve Edge During Kentucky Speedway Test
NASCAR NEXTEL Series Cup teams from Dale Earnhardt, Inc., Petty Enterprises and Morgan-McClure Motorsports visited Kentucky Speedway today to help drivers Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Martin Truex, Jr., Kyle Petty, Jeff Green and Mike Wallace develop a competitive edge for upcoming races on intermediate tracks.
Earnhardt, Jr., who was second in the series standings after the fifth race of 2004, used a fourth-place finish at Bristol to move to 17th in the current standings. After generating an average finish of 21st through the first five series races this season, the No. 8 team is intent on building stronger racecars.
"We weren't that good at intermediate tracks last year and we haven't really been that strong this year," Earnhardt, Jr., said. "That's why we're here testing. Hopefully, we can learn something. We're working on a lot of different things all across the board with our engineering department, trying to build a better racecar for the rest of the season.
"This track has a similar configuration to California or Vegas. You can learn a little bit about corners, what helps the cars turn and what gives them grip in the rear. I think we have to work on the bodies a little bit and get a little more grip.
"We have good down force numbers, but the car isn't providing us with enough grip. It's all numbers and figures, but you have to get out on the racetrack to see what does what, what feels this way and what feels that way to improve the car.
"This boils down to what kind of racecar we're taking to the racetrack. If we improve the car we're building at the shop, we'll have a faster, more competitive team."
Truex, Jr., used his time on the track to gain knowledge for his remaining NEXTEL Cup Series starts this season and to mentally regroup from a tough start to his NASCAR Busch Series season.
"This is a good mile-and-a-half track to test because aerodynamics come into play real big here," Truex, Jr., said. "With the new Cup spoiler rule, the Cup and Busch cars are a good bit different. The Cup cars feel a bit different getting into the corners, that's the biggest part. We're trying to get both cars to feel the same. If we do that, we'll have some good stuff.
"We have six more races in the Cup series this year and we're looking forward to it. We're real excited about it and trying to learn as much as we can."
The defending Busch Series champion will enter the next week's race at Texas Motor Speedway fifth in the series standings, but has not cracked the top 10 in his last four starts. He owns a win and a total of two top-five finishes this season. "It's been a tough season so far to be honest. We had a good run at Daytona and obviously the win in Mexico was big for us, but we've had some bad luck and tough races since then," he said. "I'm kind of glad to have a week off to regroup as a team before we get back after it at Texas." Improving competition levels also was on the mind of Petty Enterprises. Petty was all smiles following his eighth-place performance at Bristol. It was his first top-10 Cup Series finish since April 21, 2002 at Talladega Superspeedway.
"Last weekend was really good for Petty Enterprises," Petty said. "We kind of stuck it out all day long, stayed out of trouble, stayed out of everybody's way and when everything happened towards the end, we knew we had a good shot at moving up. We started like 12th or 13th, passed a few guys and got in the top 10. It was a good run for us.
"Jeff Green and the Cheerios Dodge qualified sixth and had some bad luck in the race, but he was going to have a good top-five, top-10 car."
Petty owns an average finish of 20.8 through the first five races of the season and is motivated by the results of his team's new engine alliance with Evernham Motorsports.
"Our engine program has been the motivator," he added. "We were looking at the No. 9 and No. 19 and saying, 'these guys can run up front and win races.' If we use their engines, we ought to be able to. If we can't we have to look at our cars and all the other aspects of Petty Enterprises. We're trying to improve on our car and our chassis stuff because we know what we're comparing ourselves to. They build some good stuff at Evernham Motorpsorts."
Kentucky Speedway opens its first of five event weekends on May 14 with the ARCA RE/MAX Series "Harley-Davidson of Cincinnati 150." Season and single event tickets are on sale now. Fans can reserve tickets online at http://www.kentuckyspeedway.com or http://www.tickets.com, by phone at 1-888-652-RACE (7223), through Tickets.com outlets including Meijer stores and through the Kentucky Speedway ticket offices located at 2216 Dixie Hwy., Ste. 200, in Ft. Mitchell, Ky., and track Fan Center in Sparta, Ky.
~ Kentucky Speedway ~