SEVERAL TEAMS TEST HALF-MILE TRI-OVAL IN NC by J. Troiano and J. Kaplan
Rookie Hopefuls Hemphill & Kittleson Joined By Stremme & Downey
Four teams have already tested at CMP recently; ASA Rookie of the Year hopefuls Ryan Hemphill and Travis Kittleson, possible title contender Robbie Pyle and part-timer this season, Brent Downey.
It was Hemphill's first visit to the facility, but he had some help getting adapted to the place from David Stremme. Of course, Stremme won ASA Rookie of the Year honors in the #11 last year, the seat Hemphill has taken over. The rookie felt lucky just to have him at the test.
"It was a big help that David was here. He was able to teach me a lot," admitted Hemphill, who has moved to
The testing season for ASA competitors is open! And while many teams have flown south to Lakeland, FL to test, some are beginning to trickle to North Carolina as well. Concord Motorsport Park will be one busy place in the next few week's as teams prepare for the April 19th ASA event at the tricky three-turn track.
Milwaukee, WI to be with the team. "We went to Lanier (Speedway, GA) and that went well, but that track is not as crazy as it is here at Concord. I mean, it's taking time to get used to this place. We are making a lot of changes I am getting to know Howard (Lettow, crew chief) and the guys. They are learning what I like and I am learning what Howard likes."
Stremme is concentrating heavily on his Busch Series program with James Finch this year, but that didn't stop him from hoping into the Meijer car to help out. That's right; he tested right along side with Hemphill at Concord.
Howie Lettow (left) talks with his new driver, Ryan Hemphill, during testing at Concord.
"It's nice to be here because I can still go over the stuff that Howard and I spoke about over the winter," said Stremme. "I'm able to bring my experience in this program to help out in getting Ryan ready for this season. I am just trying to teach Ryan the cars and make sure that both Ryan and Howard are communicating and under standing one another. This team is strong. I am impressed in the testing we've done."
Lettow, who hand selected Stremme as his driver last season, claimed having Stremme at the test was a big plus.
"I was happy to see David here, I like David a lot and I am going to miss him," said Lettow. "Our plans for this two-day test were to bring David in to help in get the cars
set-up and help with creating a good line of communication between myself and Ryan. We had a great communication last year which helped us and we want to do the same this year. I think this test and having David here will pay off for us."
Rookie Brent Downey, who is planning a limited schedule this year followed by a full ASA schedule in 2004, followed the #11 team from Lanier to Concord and has been utilizing Lettow all he can.
"Howard has been a big help at these tests with us with trying different set ups and trying to figure out what's good for these cars," said Downey, who was a full-time competitor in the Sunoco Super Series. "These cars are very different from what I have been running. Everything is coming together pretty good. We're just out here learning the tracks learning these cars. We are doing really well from were we started out."
Travis Kittleson will race Hemphill for the rookie title this year, but he has been to Concord before. In fact, the
Florida native led a good chunk of laps during the race two years ago. Kittleson has been splitting his time between the "sunshine state" and North Carolina and has been through a rigorous testing schedule to prepare for this year.
"We tested at Lakeland, Lanier, Concord and Hickory," said Kittleson, who will run the ASA season full-time for the first time after twp part-time seasons. "Testing has been going pretty well so far, especially here at Concord. Even though I raced here, it was important we came back because of how odd this track is.
David Stremme hopped in the car and gave Hemphill (left) and Lettow effective feedback.
"We're back in the swing of things from being off all winter. We have made a couple little mistakes, but nothing more than you would expect after a long winter. It's just good to be back in the car, although I am getting tired of testing. I want to race."
Robbie Pyle brought his CITGO team to Concord for a full-day test session and he told our Bob Dillner it went very well. In coming week's, we expect Greg Stewart and a handful of others to test the waters at Concord so stick right here with 51 and we'll give ya the scoop.
Kittleson hopes the sun shines on him when he races in Concord in April.