Thursday, February 26, 2009

From Saugus Speedway to Auto Club Speedway victory lane

Here’s a blast from the past.
Doug George, who used to race in the old NASCAR Southwest Series and Winston West and made regular visits to Saugus Speedway, is the crew chief for Kyle Busch’s Camping World Truck Series team. George won his first Truck Series race as a crew chief Saturday at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana.
“It feels awesome,” said George, who raced against Ron Hornaday Jr., Dan Press and Rick Carelli, among others, when they were on the Southwest Series and Winston West. “We started out a little bit tight. It’s kind of new for me because I have not worked with Kyle before, but his skills with the truck are a lot different than with guys I’ve worked with in the past. I does help that he knows what he wants for a feel from the truck.”
When George, who calls Atwater, Calif., home, was asked about his days racing against Hornaday and Carelli, he said they would be the better ones to ask. Then Ricky Carmichael, a driver for Kevin Harvick Inc. and a teammate of Hornaday’s in the Truck Series, wanted to know about racing against Carelli. Carelli is an advisor for Kevin Harvick Inc. and works with both drivers during the season.
George didn’t have any good stories to offer about Hornaday or Carelli. He wanted to focus on working with Busch.
“The biggest thing that I see with Kyle is that even though he is young he does have a lot of experience behind the wheel and he has a feel that he is looking for,” George said. “I mean I’ve crewed for Denny Hamlin and for rookies that have never run in the Truck Series and I’ve had the whole realm of different drivers and Kyle just has that aggressive driving style and what he wants for a feel is just a little different for me to get used to.”
Busch won in dominating fashion, led 95 of 100 laps and had a nearly 10-second margin of victory. Hornaday, a three-time Truck Series champion, finished sixth at Fontana. He was a little embarrassed by the show he and the other Truck Series drivers put on.
"I don't think the fans got their money out of that race,” Hornaday said. “It was a pretty boring race for the fans and I am ashamed to say I was a part of that race there. We had to put fuel only in twice, just because you don’t have enough tires and somebody is going to get hurt. I hate to say that but we'll take a top 10 out of it and go on.”
NASCAR implemented some new rules in the Truck Series to cut down on costs and make it more affordable for teams to race. One of the rules limits what crews can do on pit stops. Trucks can either change tires or take fuel, but not both. If a driver wants both, the truck needs to come into the pits twice. That makes green-flag pit stops timely and challenging.
“We just have to figure out how to strategize because you don’t know if the race is going to go yellow and you hear they are talking about debris, then not talking about debris, then they are talking about oil, then they are not talking about oil,” Hornaday said. “So do you put fuel in or to you put tires on? You just don’t know. It’s tough. It’s the second race and we’ll just have to sit down with NASCAR and see what we can do to make this think a little better.”

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