Scott Harvey - coauthor

05/25/00 Volume Eleven:
Race 9,
Grainger.com 200 / Pike's Peak

When it came time to head off to Pike's Peak, we thought all of our "rough days" were going to be in the past. We, as a team, know we're good, we know we're fast and gosh darn it, people like us!

Pike's Peak is a beautiful track, with wide turns, and a lot of room to race. Races here tend to have very few yellow flags, with very fast track speeds. This track has bit us in the past, so when NASCAR announced an extra day of testing prior to the scheduled practice sessions, we were pleased.

At the very beginning of the weekend, all the teams unloaded their trucks and were issued their initial allotment of tires. NASCAR and Goodyear then informed us that they had run out of the tires that were initially issued the teams, and that a slightly different tire would be used in the second half of the weekend. What did that mean? Well, we practiced and ran fairly well on the first set of tires. When the second set was given, we (and many other teams) found out that the chassis setup did not match the tires, which meant one thing… excessive tire wear and/or slow trucks.

Well anyway, the early practices went well for us, then we struggled a bit in qualifying. We ended up starting in the middle of the field, but thought we still had a chance to do well. In happy hour (the last practice session before the actual race) we had the 8th fastest time, boosting our confidence heading toward the green flag.

"The pit stop caused us to lose a lap to the field, but I'd take that over smacking a wall at 160 mph any day."

Once the race started, our strategy was to be patient, get into a rhythm, and pick off positions as opportunities arose. Things went okay at first, but then around lap 30, we (and many other trucks in the field) started to experience severe tire wear. By lap 60, we had worn out our right front down to the core. Jerry (our soon-to-be-famous crew chief) and I discussed the situation on the radio, and decided to be safe and come in for fresh tires. After all, if we wanted to actually finish the race, we needed to make sure we didn't hit the wall, other trucks, or any other unwanted obstacle. When our right front was pulled off, it only had about 6 pounds of pressure in it. If we had waited any longer, it would have blown for sure, probably sending us into a wall. The pit stop caused us to lose a lap to the field, but I'd take that over smacking a wall at 160 mph any day. We got back out onto the track, when Mike Wallace blew a tire, nicked the wall, a brought out a caution.

Now… NASCAR rules allow lapped trucks to line up next to the leaders when the green flag comes out. So… when people were shuffling around to get ready for the re-start, I inadvertently passed a truck or two on the left, which NASCAR says is a no-no. You're only allowed to pass people on the right. As a result, I got black flagged by NASCAR, and had to go back into the pits for a stop-and-go penalty. Well needless to say, we lost another lap. From that point on, it became simply a matter of surviving the severe tire wear, and finishing the race in one piece.

The ironic thing about this race, is that for the first time ever, Jerry kept telling me to conserve the tires, and actually slow down. How weird is that? How often are NASCAR drivers actually told to slow down? By the time the checkered flag flew, we were 17th in the field, and very happy to not have a damaged truck. In fact, the truck was in surprisingly good condition! No major sheet metal damage, and except for bad tires, the truck ran flawlessly.

Preparing for Seattle:

We're going to take the Pike's Peak truck to Seattle, but first, Jerry wants to pull the entire suspension off and get it ready for Seattle. The track up there is a 5/8 mile bull ring, but it's not like other short tracks. The turns are banked and tight, but they're wide, with a lot of room to race. The down side about this track is its' very rough surface. It feels like rocks in the asphalt are coming right up through the track surface, making it very hard to get traction. Again, it's going to be very important to get the right suspension setup, so that the truck can turn well in the corners. We've had tough luck here in the past two seasons, but (as I've said in previous diaries) we now have a team that knows we can win. Now's the time to prove it.

 


Grainger.com 200

Race Results

Pos Name
1 Greg Biffle
2 Kurt Busch
3 Andy Houston
4 Jack Sprague
5 Dennis Setzer
6 Ricky Hendrick
7 Randy Renfrow
8 Bryan Reffner
9 Scott Riggs
10 Marty Houston
11 Jimmy Hensley
12 Randy Tolsma
13 Rick Crawford
14 BA Wilson
15 Randy MacDonald
16 Chris Horn
17 Terry Cook
18 Jim Inglebright
19 Coy Gibbs
20 Rick Carelli
21 Steve Grissom
22 Joe Ruttman
23 Ryan McGlynn
24 Andy Genzman
25 Wayne Edwards
26 Lance Norick
27 Lance Hooper
28 Rob Morgan
29 Billy Kann
30 Carlos Contreras
31 Rick Ware
32 Jamie McMurray
33 Mike Wallace
34 Robert Hillis
35 Phil Bonifield

Grainger.com 200 Race Stats
Time of race:
2 hours, 16 seconds

Average Speed:
99.778 mph

Margin of Victory:
4.281 seconds

Lead Changes:
4 lead changes among 3 drivers

Cautions:
5 caution flags for 37 laps

Grainger.com 200 Contingency Awards
Bud Pole Award:
Andy Houston, No. 60 CAT Rental Store Chevrolet

Clevite Engine Builder of the Race Award: ($650):
Jerry Carcone, No. 50 Grainger Ford

Gatorade Front Runner Award ($2,000): Greg Biffle, No. 50

Raybestos Brakes Award ($800): Biffle

Rookie-of-the-Race: Kurt Busch, 2nd

Ventvisor Super Deflector Award ($500): Biffle


Diary Segments
Terry Cook's Biography
Volume I - Road to Daytona
Volume II - Daytona 250
Volume III - Florida Dodge Dealers 400

Volume IV - The Mini-Vacation
Volume V - Chevy Trucks 150
Volume VI - Dodge California Truck Stop 250
Volume VII - Napa 250
Volume VIII - Line-X 225K
Volume IX - Ram Tough 200
Volume X - Memphis 200
Volume XI - Grainger.com 200
Volume XII - Sears 200
Volume XIII - DieHard 200
Volume XIV - Silverado 200


Volume XI Pages:
Page 1