Another Cup First Time Track

LOUDON, N.H. - For the second week in a row, Ryan Newman and ALLTEL Team Penske travel to a track where they only have NASCAR Busch Series
experience. If last week’s pole, dominating run and top-five finish at Chicagoland Speedway are any indication, going to the New Hampshire International Speedway for the first time this season could see the momentum continue.

The team last raced at the 1.058-mile oval in May 2001 with mixed results. Their test last season was a success, but after the race they felt their performance needed improving. The team hopes their increased experience in the last 14 months will shine in the New England 300.

"We worked hard in the off season on our short track program," said team engineer Michael Nelson. "Last year we ran okay in the Busch race (qualified 5th, finished 15th), but we felt we needed to improve. We’re bringing a good older short track car, which we tested in May. We also applied some of the things we’ve learned during this season at other short tracks to the test with some success."

That "good older short track car" is PRS-020 and is out of the stable of Penske Racing teammate Rusty Wallace. According to Nelson, the test went very well even with the widening of the corners since the team raced there in May 2001, and he feels this car is the best one for them to take.

"We were curious to see how the widening of the corners would effect the car," Nelson continued. "The changes were small and nothing major. The major issue will still be braking and the mechanical balance of the car during the race."

The test also helped the driver adjust the car to his liking before race weekend. Seat time has always been important with Newman and even though he has race experience at this track, any additional laps are helpful.

"The tests give Ryan more experience and seat time so he has a better feel for the race track," Nelson said. "At the same time, we try to correct some of his
complaints. We try to get the car more the way he wants it and that seems to be real successful for us."

Qualifying to set the 43-car field for Sunday’s race is scheduled to begin on Friday at 3:05 p.m. EDT. The 300-lap, 317.4-mile race is set to begin at 2:00 p.m. EDT with live coverage on TNT TV and MRN Radio.

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2000

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