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The X-Factor - by JOHN ANGELO
July 17, 2003

(Editor 's Note: The views of the X-Man, John Angelo, are not necessarily the views of the rest of the staff and do not reflect the opinions of anyone else at 51 except for John Angelo himself.  John is a freelance columnist and not a part of 51.)

ASA Testing On The Big Tracks... Good or Bad?
51's Bob Dillner explained to me that part of the reason why ASA wants to go to the big tracks has to do with what I like to call "The Ryan Hemphill Factor."  Ryan, who raced with ASA with moderate success back in 2000 and 2001, decided to jump ship and run with the NASCAR Re/Max and All Pro Series' in 2002 so he could run tracks like Nashville Superspeedway (1.5-mile) and Gateway International Raceway (1.025-mile).  Hemphill proceeded to kick everyone's ass at the big tracks.  He picked up wins at both of those tracks and that helped earn him a ride in one of Bobby Hamilton's Craftsman Trucks.
The best thing they can do is make most of these regulations mandatory all year long.  Sure, roof flaps will probably never ever be needed at tracks like Hawkeye Downs or Lanier, but if they are already there, the special cost of inserting them won't be as bad.  The same can be done with the special safety equipment (because we all know safety is never enough).

Another concern is with the sealed Vortec engine.  Sure they worked well for the test and have worked nearly flawlessly through their first four season's of existence, but there has been very little testing done at the big track.  Can these engines take two hours of wide open running at constant RPMs?  Will they last?  Would Chris Wimmer's engine that his brother Scott used during his first win in 2000 have lasted a whole race at Lowe's after already running 60+ races?
But Hemphill was soon back in ASA.  He replaced none other than David Stremme in the Meijer #11.  Stremme is now making everyone take notice in NASCAR's Busch Series, and remember, Stremme never ran on the big tracks.  He was short track pure breed.

So do ASA stars who are striving to become "Big Timers" in this sport need the big track experience?  Do they need to know how to drive at speeds comparable to what the ARCA cars run at the same track?   (ARCA times at Lowe's ranged from 29.6 sec. to 36.2 sec. in the spring at LMS.)  Personally, I think not!  But would I love to see the ASA cars at a place like Lowe's?  You can bet my butt would be in attendance.

Finally, do all of the current ASA drivers deserve to be on the "big track?"  There are plenty of drivers currently running who would probably be a little hesitant to drive into a corner at 160 mph beside some guys who look unstable on a short track.  If some of these guys spin out on their own on a half-mile track weekly, what will stop them from doing it, and collecting six other cars with them, at a place like Kentucky Speedway?

And there are still questions about the "crash-ability" of the ASA cars at high-speeds at places like
The stars and cars of the American Speed Association might just head to the big tracks like Lowe's Motor Speedway and Kentucky Speedway in 2004.  We now know this is true thanks to a highly successful test at the super fast 1.5-mile Lowe's Motor Speedway just a few weeks ago.
First ASA has to consider, which I am sure they are, the costs to the ASA competitors.  Running roof flaps, bigger spoilers, right side windows, extra body braces and the extra safety equipment that the big tracks require will also require money coming out of the competitors' pockets.

In these days where pockets are either endlessly deep or not deep enough to even hold some loose change, money is everything.  It has ruled the sport recently.  ASA has always been kind to the budget racer, but this race could hurt where it hurts most, in the pocket for that type of racer.
Lowe's.  No one wants to test this, so unfortunately it would be something that would just have to be learned along the way.  The big tracks do pose big risks.  Unfortunately, we all know David Anspaugh's story (Editor's Note: He was severely injured and confined to a wheel-chair after a practice wreck at the Milwaukee Mile in 2000) and none of us wants to see that happen again.

The pros and cons of ASA on big tracks will fly from the mouths of ASA officials, drivers, teams, fans and others like yours truly until the checkered flag falls on the first "big track" race.  Until then, I guess I'll sit in my recliner and be opinionated just like everyone else.
But, can the ASA experience on a big track lead to the next level?  Maybe, but the cars are not comparable.  The Cup and Busch cars all weigh considerably more and react much different on speedways than do the ASA cars.  The engines and horsepower range is dramatically different too.  Yeah, the draft will come into play for ASA at LMS, but probably more so than for the NASCAR big boys.

What will ASA boys be able to take to the Busch Series (if that's where they want to go eventually) from this race?  Well, very little; other than the sensation of speed.

Then again, I would still be in the stands for some ASA races at the big tracks and I am sure there would be plenty of cars on the track.  But ASA is going to have think of their competitors here.
Many in the ASA community are now debating whether this is the right move for ASA or not.  Should the series that is 'known to build champions' tackle the big tracks or stick with the niche of the small tracks of America?

Well, no matter what they do, it will still be, in my book, the best racing series in the country today.  But, with that being said, maybe the "big tracks" isn't the way to go.
Ryan Hemphill won the gutiar at Nashville Superspeedway with the NASCAR All Pro Series.
The X-man says make the spoilers a mandatory thing for the entire year.