Hendrick Motorsports

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Caleb Hurd blogs about returning to Phoenix after the recent test

CONCORD, N.C. – This weekend, we’re heading to Phoenix International Raceway with plenty of notes from last month’s two-day test session. After our No. 24 team here at Hendrick Motorsports won there in February, the track was repaved. NASCAR gave us the opportunity to have a test out there in October, and during that time, we got an idea of how our Chevrolets would fare on the new one-mile surface. It was a very successful outing for the (No.) 88 team. 

We had a couple of goals—first and foremost, we wanted to get (Dale Earnhardt) Junior acclimated to the new track layout and surface, and find a setup that helped him to do that.  Once that was accomplished, and we felt like there was a direction to go in, we had a few components and setup items that we wanted to get on the car and see how they performed.  (You don’t have time to try things like that in a couple 45-minute practice sessions during the race weekend.)

Day No. 1 was mostly dedicated to the first goal of getting the driver in tune with the new racetrack, and seeing how fast our car was compared to everyone else.  Luckily we were relatively fast off the truck. We took our time during the first couple of hours to let the other cars get some rubber on the new surface. Since our car required few initial adjustments, we were able to throw some shocks and springs and a couple of other little changes at it to find just a little more grip. On Day No. 2, we tried longer changes, mostly going through trial and error to see what would work. Speeds picked up quite a bit on Day 2, so for the last half of the day, we continued to try some new combinations to try to find even more grip.

Junior seemed pretty happy with the overall balance of the car during the whole test.  Most of the changes we made didn’t really affect whether the car ran tight or loose; instead it just increased or decreased the overall speed of the car. We ran speeds inside the top 19, but we are very confident about having a fast starting point for the chassis this weekend.

Since the test, we’ve prepared for Phoenix using the data acquired through instruments, notes and driver feedback – from all four Hendrick Motorsports teams. That’s a huge benefit to look not only at our own data we collected on the (No.) 88, but also at the data collected by the other three Hendrick teams.  I know that the (No.) 48 worked on different areas of the car than we did over the course of the test.  So we can look at the difference that those changes made to their car (as well as how certain changes affected the (Nos.) 5 and 24 cars). 

Based on all of that, we’ve put together an optimum setup that hopefully will unload well off the truck in Phoenix. From there, we’ll adjust on the No. 88 Chevy to accommodate for different changes and ultimately prepare Junior for a solid weekend.

Caleb Hurd

Engineer, gas man for the No. 88 Chevrolet

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