New Cars, New Tires and New Combinations Tested Out Before Icebreaker
The snow has finally melted and for the first time in 2005, race engines have fired up at a short track in New England.  Thompson International Speedway (CT) hosted a day of open practice on Thursday for their weekly competitors, as well as the teams of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
went out and laid down some good times,” said Hossfeld.  “We’re trying a couple of things and seeing what happens.  We are gelling well.  We’ve been getting on the same page.  Anytime that you are working with new people, it’s nice to be able to communicate well right off the bat.  There’s no question that we have some really smart guys right here.”

Stefanik wasn’t quite as happy with the handling of his car, but he’s not too worried considering the relationship that he already has with his new team.

More than a dozen Modified Tour teams took advantage of the practice session including those of Ted Christopher, Chuck Hossfeld, Donny Lia and Mike Stefanik.  All of the teams at the track had different objectives when it came to the day.

Some teams wanted to try out the new toys that they acquired over the in winter.  In Donny Lia’s case, that was a new Troyer car with a fresh new body on it.

“We are here with the new car and we’re trying to figure it out,” said Lia.  “Every racecar is a little different.  You come here with what you know works and every car will be a little bit different.  Right now, we’re just trying to figure out what it is.”

Other camps in the garage were working on the chemistry that needs to be established between a new driver and team combination.  Chuck Hossfeld drove the #50 Don Barker-owned Ford Mustang for the first time, while Mike Stefanik was in attendance with the Joe Brady-owned #00 team.

“The first practice we just got comfortable and then we
“We just have to get the car going good, we’ve been making some changes because it’s not turning well enough for me,” said Stefanik.  “We figured that it would be tight with the set-up.  You have different set-ups for different drivers and this set-up just isn’t pleasing to me.  But we’ll get along just fine.  I have a lot of respect for Joe and he values my opinion, so we’re not going to have any problems.”

Another important part of the test was to evaluate the new Hoosier tire that Tour teams are running in 2005.  Ted Christopher was a critic of the tires used last season, but thinks that the rubber for this year has a lot of promise.

“The tires worked well,” said Christopher.  “They seem to be looking good and we haven’t blistered any.  So far so good.  The track is pretty green, so if anything, the track should have grained some tires today.  I hope that they produce the same tire like this week in and week out.  If they do, we’ll have some good racing.”

“Be it the tire or be it that maybe our car was some of it, we did have some issues  [last year].  We’d have a 25-lap car [before the tires went away].  That sort of sucked
Donny Lia had a new car at the test (Top) and here he discussses one of his runs with spotter Brian Crowley (Bottom).

“The year has been going pretty good so far,” said Christopher.  “The car is practicing good so if you can come out of the box like that and run pretty quick, usually next week will be pretty good too.”

Absent from the test were the teams of Ken Barry, Eric Beers, Mike Christopher, Doug Coby, Eddie Flemke, (who was at the track helping out a few customers of his Raceworks chassis building business), Rick Fuller, Tony Hirschman and Jerry Marquis.

Some of these competitors might have chosen to practice during a session on Saturday, but that was cancelled due to heavy rain.

This weekend, Christopher and Lia will both be far from the Connecticut oval.  Both drivers are entered in the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour race at Ace Speedway (NC) on Saturday.

The Icebreaker at Thompson will kick off on April 9th-10th and will have extensive team coverage of the event coming up.

“The track is going to change a great deal,” said Dupuis.  “There will be a ton more rubber down.  Right now, the track is pretty green, so I’m not sure that you’re going to learn a whole lot today.”

But Christopher thinks that a good test can lead to momentum and there is no shortage of that in his camp after winning both the Florida Speedweeks championship and the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour  opener at Caraway Speedway (NC).  Both accomplishments came before most drivers even saw a racetrack in 2005.
The #50 team brought two cars to the test with their new driver - Chuck Hossfeld.  (51 Photos)
Renee Dupuis' #90 car was at Thompson.
when you have someone like me who wants to race real hard every lap."

Another reason for the test was something very simple, but also very important.

“It’s making sure that we don’t have any leaks and that no parts fall off the car,” said Renee Dupuis.  “It’s checking for all of the things that you want to avoid on opening day.  We’re trying to get rid of the new car blues.”

There are different opinions on how much actual knowledge that a team can gain when it comes to actually preparing for next weekend’s race though.