The Orleans Racing team headed to last week’s Daytona test with a punch list of tests to be performed --- and at the end of the three-day session most items had a check mark next to them.
The three-day test at the self proclaimed “World Center of Racing” gave crew chief, Tony “Rambo” Liberati plenty of data to draw from. The goal is to incorporate all of the “good” and be ready for the February 17th Dodge Dealers 200 Craftsman Truck Series event.
The test was a good workout for the Orleans Racing team giving the road crew plenty of opportunity to gel for the 2006 season. The going is slow and arduous, but at the end of the session Rambo had the #77 Dodge running competitive laps.
“The team as a whole did very respectable for what we were looking for,” said driver, Brendan Gaughan following the test. “No, we never threw down lap times that we wanted. No, we were never wicked, bad-ass fast or anything like that. We had to go in and take the steps and do what we needed to do to learn what we need when we come back with the correct aero package.”
Explaining how the test proceeded for him Gaughan offered, “We took the tape and put tape on it and tried umpteen different tape configurations. We tried the shocks in all the different locations for the shocks. We were able to do the testing that we needed to do to get the information for when we come back for the race. Now we know that tape configuration A did not cool as well as B but was faster. OK, that’s for qualifying then.”
Summing up the results the Las Vegas native said, “Rambo already said we’re going to cut off the bodies and relocate them. We’re going to come back with Kevin Kroyer and after another month of R&D we’ll come back with a better motor. We’ll be able to come back and be ready for anything.”
The downside to the tests? Frankly they’re pretty boring for the driver.
“You’ve heard it from the late Dale Earnhardt all the way to the 18 year olds. Doing the Daytona and Talladega style tests is just mundane,” says Gaughan. “You have to sit in that line on pit road for 20 minutes to be able to go out. You’re just sitting there and you fall asleep in the race car because it’s just a mini bake oven.
“It does get difficult but that’s where working with Buddy Baker in 2004 helped me,” Gaughan adds. “You have to be able to do the same thing for the data every time to make the test legit. You have to run the same line, same line, same line for all three laps of a run. If you don’t, all that mundane-ness becomes useless. So if you’re going to have to sit there and do it, at least do what you need to do to do it right. Don’t think it doesn’t matter. It does. And it makes big differences.
“Fortunately Buddy Baker taught me that and we’re able to kind of catch on to that whole program. But, man A-B-A is just a miserable time when the crew chief wants to make a three inch hole and then tape the three inch hole and then un-tape the three inch hole. You’re like, ‘I’ve got to do it again? Can I take a stick and poke the tape out or something?’ It does become very difficult.”
With the test complete trucks No. 16 and 17 have a date with the Saws-All, after which Orleans Racing’s in-house body men will re-skin both speedway Dodges for February. The clock is ticking given that both trucks need to be in Detroit for wind tunnel testing on February 4th. There’s no doubt the timing will be tight, but with a few late nights the boys in the fab shop should be able to get everything done in time.
“I know the boys back at the shop have a lot of work to do, but they’ll get it done,” said Gaughan. “They’re driven --- and with the help of Rambo and our new shop foreman, Tom Buzze they’ll succeed.
“I’ve got the best group of guys I’ve ever had with me,” concludes Gaughan. “They want to win as much as I do. That gives me a great deal of comfort. You don’t have to tell them what to do – they know. We just give them the tools to do their job and stand back. If they need help we’ve got two of the best right there to offer guidance.”