ARCA RE/MAX Series drivers Bobby Gerhart and A.J. Henriksen participated in a Hoosier tire test on the new racing surface at Talladega Superspeedway Thursday, Sept. 21, 2006. Gerhart has to his credit a 2001 Talladega Superspeedway ARCA RE/MAX Series win, and is a four-time winner in the series at Daytona. Henriksen has three starts to his credit in the series at Talladega Superspeedway. Both drivers are expected to compete in the Food World 250 ARCA RE/MAX Series race at Talladega Superspeedway on Friday, Oct. 6. Comments from both drivers after yesterday's test follow:
BOBBY GERHART, No. 5 Lucas Oil Chevrolet:
ON HIS FIRST IMPRESSION OF THE NEW RACING SURFACE AT TALLADEGA:
"They've done a remarkable job on the race track. My first impression? It's almost too good if you can imagine that. It is obvious now with my two cars out there, that when you put a couple of quality cars together it is going to be a real, real toughy, although speeds will be up. I am certainly not disappointed. The cars used to move around, in a race trim. Things we can't see but we only know when we get out there in a group are not there anymore because the cars don't move around any more. You are so planted, it feels like you are racing on a roller rink. It has a lot of grip."
ON HOW HE EXPECTS THE CARS WILL PERFORM HERE THIS YEAR COMPARED TO LAST YEAR:
"If you look at last year to this year, I can assure you that my cars will be a considerable amount faster, which is what comes down to what this racetrack has done. It's a remarkable job they've done in repaving this facility. I am looking forward to it. I love this restrictor plate racing. It has been very good to me. I took a glance at Victory Lane over there when I came in and I intend to be there in a couple weeks.
ON THE NEW GARAGE PADDOCK EXTENSION BUILT FOR THE SERIES:
"To be quite honest with you, it wouldn't matter if we parked in the grass. The opportunity for this series to come to this facility and race is a privilege. To come in the gate is a privilege. I am really proud to be a part of it."
ON WHETHER HE EXPECTS TO MAKE A LOT OF CHANGES TO THE PACKAGE HE RAN AT DAYTONA:
"We are always changing. That is something that is going to be a given. This sport is performance based. My new car is being built right now for next year. I certainly hope I run it, because if I run it, that means after our winter testing I will feel that it is better than we had last year. The car that I ran today ironically is the car that I won with last year at Daytona. If you can see what happens, we take the cars that we better ourselves with and put them up as our best test stuff and hopefully learn a little bit along the way. I have got a 27-year career and I had the best race car that I ever sat in at Daytona in a lot of respects from the way it handled and the way it drove. It would not be uncommon for me to run that car here."
A.J. HENRIKSEN, No. 17 Engineered Components Ford:
ON HOW THE TEST WENT FOR HIM:
"It was a really good day. The track is unbelievable, how smooth it is now. It was pretty rough in the past but they did a really good job. We had a really good day and a good, solid racecar, and hopefully we'll have good luck when we come back."
ON HIS FIRST IMPRESSION OF THE NEW RACING SURFACE:
"Just looking at it was cool, then once we got to go out, it was just unbelievable. There have been a lot of tracks where they have just done their best, but here the tunnel turn bump is just gone completely. At some tracks they will just pave over it and it will be there in a year, or is there right now. It is fine (here), everything is good. It is really nice."
ON WHETHER THE HANDLING FACTOR HAS BEEN ELIMINATED WITH THE NEW RACING SURFACE:
"Handling is not really that big of an issue, by yourself anyway. When you get a big pack of cars, a little bit of handling comes in. But it is just more or less speed out of the race car."
ON WHY FANS SHOULD BE HERE FOR THE OCT. 6 FOOD
WORLD 250 ARCA RE/MAX SERIES RACE:
"The fans are going to see a really good race. It might be the best one here. I hear there are a lot of competitive teams. It will probably be the most competitive ARCA race here to date."
ON HIS CHANCES IN THE UPCOMING FOOD WORLD 250:
"I feel very confident. We've got really good chances of maybe being a top two or top three competitor."