by Mike Snow - Orleans Racing
LAS VEGAS --- (12-May-05) -- In the two weeks since Orleans Racing began its reorganization several key goals have been reached. These changes, tied to enhancing the performance of the #62 Orleans Racing Dodge and the #77 Jasper Engines Dodge, should yield performance gains as soon as this weekend when the NASCAR Craftsman Trucks tackle Mansfield Motorsports Speedway.
None of the changes to-date has been drastic and largely limited to moving existing personnel to positions that better suit their skill sets.
Heading the list of changes is the promotion of Lance Wilson to truck chief of Brendan Gaughan’s Jasper Dodge. Lance, son of #62 crew chief Charlie Wilson, has been with the team several years, and in that time has shown both competence and leadership qualities.
“We like to promote from within,” said Orleans Racing co-owner, Brendan Gaughan. “Lance has shown us numerous times that he’s ready for more responsibility and this was a perfect opportunity to let him shine.”
Another player in Orleans Racing’s re-org is Roy Pryor. Pryor returns to the Orleans Race team after a brief hiatus, and will assume a large roll in the team’s suspension program. This is Pryor’s key area of expertise, and his contributions led to a pair of championships with Orleans Racing in the NASCAR West Series and helped the team make the switch from cars to trucks.
“Roy was a big part of our championship days in the West Series,” notes Gaughan. “He certainly helped us keep our suspension systems dialed in --- and with his inheriting a great foundation that Bill Wilburn laid down while he was here I think this is one area we’ve got a good deal of confidence in.”
Several changes to the over the wall crews have also taken place as a result of the Orleans Racing reorganization. First is that Lance Wilson will swap from doing rears on Steve Park’s #62 truck to doing fronts on Gaughan’s #77 Dodge. That swap was complimented with crewman Josh “Pinky” White moving to Park’s ride, where he will handle rear tire changing duties.
The tire specialists of the #62 and the #77 also swapped teams with Calvin Gravely moving to the #77 and Robert Ewing moving to the #62. Gravely is currently being groomed as a possible jackman for the #77 after the team’s regular jackman, Craig Nemes was injured in a motorcycle accident several weeks ago.
“A thing that’s hurt our team is the team captain for the No. 77 team, Craig Nemes, he’s out,” noted Gaughan of his stricken friend and employee. “He had a motorcycle accident and is lucky to even be alive. Craig is on the mend and he’s going to be staying back at the shop. It’s a hurt to the team that we lose a guy of Craig’s caliber at this point.
“We’re working with Calvin to see if he might be a good person to put in as jackman on the #77,” continued Gaughan. “He’s been out practicing with the team during pit stop practice and looks great. He’s fast and if you’ve seen him you know he’s strong enough for the job. We’re going to put him through the paces over the next couple of weeks and if he’s as good as he looks Calvin will be jacking the #77 very soon.”
Handling crew chief duties for the next two races, at least, is Tony “Rambo” Liberati. Liberati has a number of years of NASCAR experience, with jobs with some of the high-flying teams in stock car racing highlighting his resume.
“I met Rambo several years ago, when he was at Herzog Motorsports with Jimmie Johnson,” said Gaughan of his interim crew chief. “He’s very knowledgeable and I think he’ll do a great job with the great equipment Charlie Wilson is preparing for Orleans Racing.”
The equipment has also not been spared critical review, and a number of changes to the bodies of Orleans Racing’s Dodge Rams have taken place since the last event at Gateway.
“After what we learned at Dodge’s wind tunnel a couple of weeks ago I knew we had a lot of work to do --- and that’s been done,” said Gaughan. “We cut the bodies off a couple of our trucks and relocated them to where Dodge recommended they be put.
“Of course at Mansfield aero doesn’t matter, but at Lowe’s Motor Speedway it certainly does, and we’re ready for that event,” adds Gaughan. “I think what we learned with the help of Dodge will immediately show when we unload at Lowe’s. Thanks to Dodge for making their facilities available to us, and is just another reason why we value our long-term relationship with them.”
Summarizing the past two weeks Gaughan observes, “We’ve learned a lot over the past several weeks, and with the help of Charlie Wilson keeping my boys focused and on target I think we’re in the position to start showing off a little.
“We’re confident in the gear we’ll have over the next several events, and we should start showing that Orleans Racing is back,” says Gaughan. “I’m grateful that we have a sponsor like Jasper Engines and Doug Bawel. His confidence has never wavered, and we want to give him every reason in the world to maintain his faith and enjoy his investment with our team.”
The next race for both Orleans Racing Dodges will be the May 15th UAW Ohio 250, which will run on the 0.4 mile Mansfield Motorsports Speedway.