Qualifying Rules Change Again... Leicht Fast... Pyle Uses Backup & More
QUALIFYING RULE LASTS LESS THAN 24 HOURS
The uproar was loud and lasting. The rule, however, was not.
Less than 24 hours after ASA announced two significant rule changes, one regarding qualifying and one regarding restarts, it reneged on its qualifying announcement, telling its drivers they are going to go back to the old style of qualifying… one car on track for two laps.
“It’s fine with me for sure,” said Todd Kluever, one of the drivers who was very vocal in Thursday’s driver’s meeting when the rule was announced. “I didn’t like it and I thought it was a bad idea. This is the way it should be. They don’t need to be changing things like that on us.”
The new rule was going to have four cars qualifying “European style.” Four cars would be on the track at the same time for six green flag laps with the best lap counting as their qualifying speed. Drivers were in an uproar after the rule was announced not only because the rule called for the groups of cars to be determined by a random draw, but also that the rule was sprung on them only days before the first race of the year.
“It wasn’t the right way to do things and I’m glad they thought it over,” said Kluever. “Qualifying is about qualifying. It isn’t about racing. That is what that rule they had was. It was more like you were racing rather than qualifying.”
The entire Saturday schedule had to be moved back to allot for more time for qualifying. Practice will now begin at 9:30 rather than 11:30.
LEICHT SURPRISES EVERYONE BUT HIMSELF
Stephen Leicht was FAST all day at Lakeland.
Stephen Leicht made his debut in the #4 WalTom Racing Development ride on Friday and made it quite a successful debut. In all three practice sessions, Leicht was in the top-10 in speeds, clocking as high as third in the morning session.
It was surprising to see the youngster at the top of the charts for most people, except for Stephen.
“The car is still off,” said Leicht after the day’s sessions were done. “I think we are a top-five car right now but with some more changes, we can be a top-one or top-two car. If we can get the car to turn better in the corner, it is going to get even better.”
Many of the drivers, including Todd Kluever welcomed the decision to change qualifying back to the original format.
Leicht got to practice the #4 several times before jumping in the ride this weekend at Lakeland. Leicht tested at Greenville (SC), Illiana (IN) and here at Lakeland.
“This is one of Robbie’s (Pyle, Leicht’s teammate) cars from last year. It is actually the one he wrecked at Greenville when we were testing there. We had to put a new front clip on the car after that and that may be why it isn’t turning right just yet.”
PORTER FASTEST MUCH OF THE DAY
Toby Porter was the most consistent of all the drivers in practice on Friday, clocking in the top-four of each of the sessions and turning the fastest time of the day during the afternoon’s final session.
Robbie Pyle was second fastest to close the day. Rookie Scott Lagasse Jr., Butch Miller and Kevin Cywinski rounded out the top-five.
TIMBER WOLF TEAMS TESTS LOADING, UNLOADING
Butch Miller and this Timber Wolf #52 team were late getting to the track on Thursday afternoon and were late getting through tech. On Friday morning, Miller’s crew chief Deon Deneau said the team had planned to head to Orlando Speedworld to “shake down” their car, but instead, got some special practice.
“We got to practice to see how fast we could load and unload the trailer,” said Deneau jokingly. “We got there and had planned to just shake down the car. As soon as we got everything unloaded, the skies opened up and we just waited it out. We waited for two hours and it wasn’t stopping, so we just loaded everything back up and headed to Lakeland. As soon as we got everything loaded up and were ready to take off, it stopped raining and the track started to dry. It was too late though.
“I decided our team has unloading and loading down pat.”
CMT REALITY SHOW IN FULL EFFECT IN LAKELAND
The Country Music Television (CMT) reality show “The Drive,” which focuses on the lives of Short Track Racing drivers trying to make it into the big-time NASCAR ranks, has a heavy presence at Lakeland this weekend following two separate drivers.
Zach Niessner, who is driving the #42 for Wood Brothers Racing, is being followed, as it SS Racing’s Davin Scites. Davin is not racing this weekend but is serving as crew chief for Scottish-driver John Dalziel, who will share the seat of the #06 with Scites this year.
The show will air in eight one-hour installments, premiering April 21 at 10 p.m. and will run each Friday at 9 p.m.
PYLE GOES TO BACKUP CAR EARLY
Deon Deneau and the Timber Wolf crew got some practice in on Thursday.
Robbie Pyle and the WalTom Team had both of its #63 CITGO rides unloaded and ready to run on Friday. And good thing they did. Pyle went out only one time in the primary car during Friday’s first session and decided that the car just wasn’t right. They pulled it behind the wall, and switched everything over onto the back up car.
“The car just didn’t feel right,” said Pyle. “The motor felt really flat. After just a few laps out there you could tell something was wrong. It was flat out slow. So we hopped in the backup car and it turned out to be pretty good.”
Pretty good is an understatement. Pyle turned the fastest lap of the first session and followed it up by turning the second fastest lap of the entire day in the afternoon session.
WOOD LEADS THREE-CAR TEAM
They don’t wear special golf hats like Jack Roush of the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, but Chad Wood, and his father Jerry, are starting to become the “Roush” of the ASA world.
The Wood Brothers Racing team has three cars in the running for Saturday’s SK Hand Tools 200 at Lakeland and all three cars were on the track on Friday. But the best looking car of all of them may have been that of Chad’s, which he said was one of the best cars he’s ever had at the track.
“It is good. It is real good,” said Wood, who sat out a lot of the second and third practice sessions pleased with his car’s performance. “I think we will make the race just fine and I think it will race even better. The biggest problem is the fact that we practice and qualify during the heat of the day down here and we race at night. We do it a lot of places but it means a lot down here because there is a lot of heat in the track.”
CLICK HERE for page Lakeland Notes: Friday Part Two
Robbie Pyle was fast as usual, but in a backup car.