ASA NOTES:  LOWE'S OPEN TEST    by Jeremy Troiano
Martin, Stremme, Sorenson, Garvey, Fultz & Plenty More
When pulling into the Lowe's Motor Speedway garage area, the shock came when seeing so many haulers lined up.  One hauler that stuck out was that of the JCR3 Racing team, the 2004 NASCAR Southeast Series championship team with driver Jeff Fultz.  However, the team's hauler wasn't there for Fultz, but to help out ASA Late Model Series regular Jason Setser in his shot in the ASA National Tour at Lowe's.

“We helped Jason and his guys out at Kentucky and they are just awesome people,” said Fultz, who was on hand to offer his advice along with most of his SES crew.  “We crewed for them at Kentucky and they asked if we would come out and help them with the car, especially since I have some time here at Lowe's.”

Setser and his team really struggled during the opening parts of the test on Tuesday and asked Fultz to get in the car to make some laps to help get the car setup even better.  It was the first time Fultz has sat in an ASA cars in several years.  By his recollection, he had not been in an ASA car since around 1998.

“The car was just off quite a bit,” added Fultz.  “We really worked on
SES champion Jeff Fultz helped out Jason Setser's team on Tuesday by taking some laps.  (51 Photos)
“Rough.  I can't believe how rough this place is,” said Kluever.  “It is like a Salem or something.  There are bumps and ruts that pull your car in different directions.  It should be pretty fast though.  I think there should be some big pack racing.
“I think there is enough of a scare factor here that will separate the field enough.  I think the lead pack with be about six or eight cars.  Either way, it should be some pretty close racing.”

Kluever was one of several drivers that got very loose after hitting the patch.  It was enough to tell Kluever to park the car for the night.

“It was close,” he said with a slight smile.  “Funny thing was I was thinking the lap before that I should just pull off and be done with it for the night.  But I decided to go one more that.  And on that lap, I almost trashed the car.  I guess I should have just listened to my gut instinct.”

Casey Smith joked that he needed to clean out his drawers a couple of times during Tuesday's practice session.
Despite the way it looks, Kluever was overall pleased with his car.
Smith, who surprised many with a strong run at Kentucky, again looked to have a strong car on Tuesday after wholesale changes throughout the day.  Smith had help as well from two pretty smart people, Gene Roberts and Joe Shear Jr.

“It has been a real wild day,” said Smith.  “I told the guys that even though we have 15 minutes still to go and we could make some more changes, we're pretty proud with what we got so we just need to load the thing up.  We've been fighting the bumps all day long.  We finally got the car
Casey Smith had some interesting moments on Tuesday afternoon.
to where we are not quite as loose over them.  I'll got back and see how much more clearance I got. 

“Joe Shear Jr. came over today and helped me out a bunch.  I have to thank him for that.  I also have to thank Gene Roberts.  He's been helping me out as well.   I think we've got a good race car for next week.   But we are going to load it up in one piece tonight.”

Smith's closest call came late in the night when he was on the track and the car right in front of him spun and backed it into the turn three wall.  Smith had to get on the breaks, but was able to keep his car straight and off of the car that had bounced off the wall and back down across the track.

“I was on a semi-mock run there at the end, really just looking to see what new tires would do and the guy just snapped around right in front of me.  I backed it down and got on the brakes.  I got sideways, but he slid up the track and I got around him fine.”

Smith had a couple of other hairy moments during the day as well, but kept his #19 in one piece.  Smith said he will stay around the Concord area for the next week rather than drive back to Texas with his equipment.
getting the car better and we did by the end of the day.  At the end of the day we were running laps in the mid-33s and they weren't getting out of the 35s earlier today.  There are still some things that need changing, but the car is really better.”

When asked if Fultz would like to drive in an ASA race again, he just shrugged.  But he did say it might happen soon.

“I might be running at Atlanta with this team.  We'll just have to wait and see.”


Lowe's Motor Speedway has always been known to be pretty bumpy.  It is one of the special “characteristics” that gives the track its own look at feel. 

On Tuesday, the ASA drivers had six hours worth of practice to try and figure out the track's unique bumps.   The bumps bit several drivers, while others had no problems getting around them.
“This is a tough track,” said rookie Stephen Leicht.  “They all told me it was going to be rough.  It is rough.  A little rougher than I thought it was going to be.  The biggest problem here is probably over there in the middle of (turns) three and four.  There is a big patch there that really upsets the car. 

“You really have to be careful off of four. That is where all the wrecks are going to be I think.  There will be some big time dodging going on there.  It should be interesting.”

Standing down in turn three, you could physically see how much the cars moved and bounced around in the corners, especially going over the treacherous patch in the corner.
Stephen Leicht

If ASA gave away a “long distance” award for the team that traveled the farthest away to come and race, there would be no doubt who would have it wrapped up in a heartbeat in the next two races. 

That winner would be John Mickel and his entire TorqueSpeed Motorsports team.  Mickel and his team are regulars in the overseas ASCAR Series, which runs ASA-cars (with a few minor differences) on a number of different tracks, mainly at the 1.5-mile Rockingham Speedway in Britian.  Mickel hails from Cambridge, Cambridgeshire.
Mickel was the inaugural ASCAR Championship in 2001.  He has been to the Lowe's track before as well, running with the Richard Petty Driving Experience following a special invite from the company.  Mickel is also the Rockingham ASCAR Rookie Training Instructor and is responsible for coaching every driver in ASCAR to enable them to obtain their ASCAR license.

The team modified and shipped Mickel's #66 Xerox backed Ford Taurus overseas for both the Lowe's and Atlanta races.  The TorqueSpeed team actually consists of four separate teams and drivers on a regular basis, but Mickel's team was the only to venture into ASA competition this weekend.   Ironically, one of John's teammates, Stevie Hodgson, who was recently crowned the 2004 Days of Thunder champion, will serve at John's crew chief during the next two races. will have more on Mickel and the TorqueSpeed team later this week.


- Former Northwest Series champion Kevin Hamlin spent Tuesday night serving as spotter for Tim Sauter.
The TorqueSpeed team worked on their #66 most of the day, but got some laps in late.
- Michael Waltrip was on hand watching the progress of his brand-new ASA team.  Ken Butler Jr. drove the car during the test (with some help early in the day by Mark Martin) and kept the car out of trouble, turning in some respectable times.

- Alex Yontz turned some impressive times.  Yontz has been all over the place this year, with starts in everything from local Late Model Stocks to UARA to Super Late Models to the ASA car.

- Johnny Sauter was at the track on Tuesday and offered his advice on getting several of the drivers up to speed even quicker.  “Since Johnny's got here, I've actually slowed down,” joked around Kevin Cywinski.
Michael Waltip was a interested observer in Tuesday's events at Lowe's.
- Greg Stewart had a diffferent looking car at Lowe's, opting for a “new look, new luck” philosophy.  “Yeah, we are hoping for some better luck,” said Stewart.  “But really, we are really working with some sponsors and we are pretty close on a couple of deals, so that is why is has a different look to it.  I like it.  It is different.  But I'll have to admit... I liked the bright orange car too!
- Jay Middleton was at the track on Tuesday, again in his #74 Dodge, which is the same car that Glenn Allen Jr. drove to a third at Kentucky earlier this year. 

- SS Racing's Kyle Krisiloff was also fast on Tuesday night.  Some placed him actually within the top-five of the afternoon and evening sessions.

CLICK HERE To View The First Part Of ASA Notes: Lowe's
Jay Middleton