ASA NOTES:  LOWE'S OPEN TEST    by Jeremy Troiano
Martin, Stremme, Sorenson, Garvey, Fultz & Plenty More

Among the many faces walking in and around Lowe's Motor Speedway was that of NASCAR Nextel Cup Series veteran Mark Martin.  However, Martin wasn't just walking around taking in the sites.  He was walking around, working on his #6 Ford, which he will drive as part of the ASA season finale at Atlanta Motor Speedway (GA).  Martin will drive a car out of the Logano Motorsprots stables, based just outside of Atlanta.
Martin spent time in a couple of cars during the day, including Michael Waltrip's new ASA car.  Martin helped make sure the car was setup right before the team handed the reigns over to Ken Butler Jr.

Most of the second half of the day, Martin worked with the Logano Motorsports team (along with a few Roush Racing crew members) on getting his #6 setup just right.  It worked, as Martin turned, unofficially, one of the top-five times of the entire test before problems ended his night.

Martin was on a final run in the last practice session at night when the engine in his car let go going down the backstretch.  The car let up a big plume of smoke and even briefly caught fire.  Martin pulled the car to a quick
Mark Martin was very active on Tuesday, working with his team closely all afternoon long.   (51 Photos)
seen talking to Martin, no doubt getting pointers from the Nextel Cup veteran.


With just a week until the teams have to return to Lowe's Motor Speedway for the Aaron's 99, there was a huge turnout of cars that showed up for the open test session.  

A total of 35 cars were at the track on Tuesday.  Some teams where even testing two cars.  Most of the series regulars were in attendance and spent some time on the track.  Butch Miller was the only driver in the top-10 who didn't test, although Miller was in attendance with his team and working with Kyle Krisiloff and John Dalziel.  Outside of Miller, all of the drivers in the top-18 turned laps on Tuesday.
Several “rookie” drivers were in attendance as well, included Danny Burlson, JP Morgan, Alex Yontz, Greg Barnhardt, Blake Bjorklund and Britain's John Mickel.

There were plenty of others seen walking through the garage area as well. 

North Carolina Governor Mike Easly, David & Mark Green, NASCAR's Mike Helton, former ASA Rookie of the year David Stremme, Mike Calinoff, John Andretti, Travis & Matt Carter, Johnny Sauter and his former ASA crew chief Joe Shear Jr., 2004 SES champion Jeff Fultz, ARCA Rookie of the Year TJ Bell, Tony Liberati, Kevin Hamlin, former ASA official and current Busch Series director Joe Balash and many other Cup and Busch Series team members.

Four separate cars got into the wall at different points during the day on Tuesday, first with Peter Cozzolino. 
Robbie Pyle (left) talks with John Andretti (right) who was at Lowe's yesterday to announce the formation of a new Cup team.
Cozzolino spun and backed into the turn four SAFER barriers during the day's early practice session.   His car was severally damaged, but Cozzolino was uninjured in the accident.

“I just got in too hard,” said Cozzolino.  “The car was actually tight, but getting into the bumps, the car was wanting to snap around a little bit.  It happened twice before today.  We were working on getting through there.  It just snapped around on me.  I corrected it, but it kept going.  There was no saving it.

“Once you get it out of shape, you are done here.  There is no saving it  We were fast.  We were in the low 33s at the time.  We learned a lot. It would have been nicer to get the rest of the day in.  What can you do?”
Peter Cozzolino looks over the damage to his #44 after Tuesday's accident.
Jimmy Henderson turned his #21 around and hit the wall with the front a little bit later in the afternoon, ending his day.  Ironically, his car was adorned with a “for sale” sign on the side during the test session.
stop on the apron right in front of one of the corner workers and quickly exited the car.
"Man, I love this series and running with these guys," said Martin as he enjoyed an evening away from the pressure of the NASCAR circuit.  "I really wish we were going to run this car here (at Lowe’s), but we have a lot going on that week and we'll have to wait for the Atlanta race."

At Atlanta, Martin will run triple duty, running in the ASA, Busch and Cup races in the same weekend.  Youngster Mark Mitchell will race a Logano car at Lowe's.

Martin is a four-time ASA champion and has 22 career ASA wins and 40 poles.  His last start came in 1996.

Throughout the day, several current ASA drivers could be
Martin's car blew up late in the day on Tuesday.  A brief flash fire occured, but he was ok.
Later in the night, once the sun had settled, two others backed it into the wall in turns three and four.

Jimmy Spencer Jr., son of NASCAR veteran Jimmy Spencer and a regular with the ProCup Series, got in the car of Greg Barnhardt and was taking some laps and coming up to speed when the car lost the rearend, dumped grease on the track, causing Spencer Jr. to back hard into the outside wall.  Rich Loch spun during the same incident, but didn't make contact with the wall.

Later on in the final session of the night, youngster Blake Bjorklund spun and backed his car into the outside wall hard in front of a plethora of cars.  Thankfully, no one else got into the mess.


Mike Garvey, Bryan Reffner, Reed Sorneson, Mark Martin and Wade Day were, unofficially, the fastest on the track at the end of Tuesday's six hours worth of practice time by
Speed51's unofficial clocks and the mutter around the garage area.  No official times by ASA were kept.

“I think the cars drive good.  They are comfortable.  It think it is great,” said Garvey.  “We made little changes.  We unloaded good.  We just did little things here and there to get more speed out of the car.  We could make little gains.  We got to a point to where we were as fast as we were going to go.” 
Jimmy Henderson (#21) and Blake Bjorklund (#34) also had their problems on Tuesday.
If you've ever watched a Cup or Busch race from Lowe's, the drivers often talk about the changes the track goes through from day to night.  Garvey said the ASA cars don't change as much as their big brothers.

“They pick up so much horsepower that is changes the handling.  We get a little bit better.  We ran as fast in the heat of the day as we did tonight.  It is not as critical for us.   We just have to try to get the car as free as we can not to bind it up.”

Reed's #29 was fast all day Tuesday.
Garvey and Reffner dominated the Kentucky race a few weeks ago and their speed crossed over on Tuesday.

Sorenson, who will have a little added pressure and plenty of eyes on him next week, was fast all day long and was one of the drivers many were watching to judge their cars off of.  Sorenson has already run one race at Lowe's this year, where he finished in the top-five in the ARCA race back in May after leading a bunch of laps.
“Our day went good,” said Sorenson.  “We were right there with those other two or three guys that are pretty quick.  We just made small little changes during the day.  We were just trying to tighten the car up, which is what everyone was tryign to do.

“Running the ARCA race helped me a lot with getting through three and four and going over that bump.  Casey (Mears) helped me a lot during that weekend to show me how to get through the corner.   You pretty much run the corners the same way in both cars.  I'll be able to take away from of the stuff from the ARCA car here.”

Both Wade Day and Travis Kittleson had to break out their “short track cars” and used them on Tuesday during the test.  Both drivers crashed their primary “speedway” cars hard at Kentucky a few weeks ago and both said their cars were too trashed to continue with.
Reed (left) gets some help from David Stremme on Tuesday.
“This is actually the car we ran well with at Kentucky the first time out this year,” said Day.  “Our other car was just junked after Kentucky.  It bent up the center section and everything.  But really, there aren't that many changes we needed to make or anything to this car.  We just liked the other as a speedway car.”

Day said while his accident at Kentucky was hard, it paled in comparison to his wreck earlier this year at IRP where he severely bruised his foot.

“Actually, this (pointing to the car he was running on Tuesday) is the car that wrecked at IRP too.”
Wade Day was fast yet again on the speedways.
Kittleson was pretty fast, and again with the help of NASCAR veteran crew chief Patrick Donahue, looked like he may be a factor come next week.  Kittleson was nearly “giddy” at the experience.
“It took a little bit getting used to this place,” said Kittleson.  “There is so much hype to this place and you see it on TV all the time.  It is always come to come to a place like this that you always watched growing up.  It is narrow, narrow, narrow though.  When you see the guys on TV go three-wide, you just don't know how they do it.

“We were fast.  Just not as fast at Garvey.  We need to get our stuff together to get that fast.  He's really set the bar high.”

When asked if it was a different car than the one from Kentucky, Kittleson, with a sly smile, said “yeah... it is hard to race with the rear tire rubbing a hole in your seat.”
Travis Kittleson brought back his "short track" car after the wreck at Kentucky.
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