H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler Encourages NASCAR to Schedule An Open Sprint Cup Test at Charlotte Motor Speedway
Looking to increase competition, H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, president and general manager of Lowe's Motor Speedway, is encouraging NASCAR to host an open Sprint Cup Series test at the 1.5-mile superspeedway prior to the May 17 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race .
"It's our intention to have the best racing possible here during the month of May and I have always believed that preparation is the key to great racing," Wheeler said. "You can compute, work the post machine and microscope the car until your tools bleed, but nothing, absolutely nothing, is as valuable as track time.
"So, we have offered NASCAR at least two days, May 5-6, to bring the teams in so they can test the new car. We'll have the track open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. so they can experiment with chassis set-ups during both daytime and nighttime conditions," Wheeler added. "Then, if further testing is needed, dates closer to the May 17 Sprint All-Star Race can be provided."
If NASCAR accepts Wheeler's offer, the test session would take place on Monday and Tuesday following the Saturday night race at Richmond International Raceway and prior to teams heading to nearby Darlington Raceway for another Saturday night event.
"Logistically, May 5-6 is perfect for the race teams and with a majority of them based in the area, there would be minimal expense for them to come here and test," Wheeler noted.
The May 17 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and the May 25 Coca-Cola 600 will be the first two races for NASCAR's new car at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
Originally known as the Car of Tomorrow, the innovative machine debuted last year and was used in 16 events at 10 tracks, none of which were similar to Lowe's Motor Speedway.
This season, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams have struggled to find the proper chassis set-up for their new cars at several intermediate tracks. "NASCAR and the teams have worked extremely hard on this new car,"
Wheeler said. "While the strides in safety have been outstanding, there is still much work to do on the handling and that work is best done on the race track.
"We have a Goodyear tire test here on April 22, but that will be limited to four teams," Wheeler added. "The reality is that everyone needs an opportunity to get on this track, which we all know is very difficult.
"This is the first year NASCAR's new car is being used on the intermediate tracks and, with very limited testing and track time at the races, a lot of work remains to be done. We must realize this new car is the biggest change in NASCAR since the cars were downsized in 1982 and we also went through a significant period of adjustment then."
Like many in the garage area, Wheeler believes that if teams are given more time to learn the nuances of the new car, the quality of racing will improve which ultimately increases the excitement and overall experience for race fans.
"I have spoken with many drivers and crew chiefs about this car and, while there are differences of opinion on what to do, there is no question that more track time is needed," Wheeler said. "My personal opinion is that the cars need to be slowed down on the one to two-mile tracks, but how to do it so it produces better racing is the challenge. Hopefully, that is one option for this track in May. "The bottom line is that we need to do something now, and we want to work with NASCAR and the teams to make that happen," Wheeler concluded.
Tickets for all May events at Lowe's Motor Speedway, including the May 17 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and the May 25 Coca-Cola 600, can be purchased by calling the track ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS or online.