Bill Lester Hoping To Turn Luck Around After Atlanta Motor Speedway Test
Thursday, April 24, 2003
Bill Lester is the first to admit that last year -- his first in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series -- was not the breakout season he was hoping for, and it certainly wasn¿t enough to qualify him as the next superstar of the sport. He didn¿t rack up one top-10 finish, recording a best finish of 11th. He finished 17th in points, trying for much of the year to simply keep his equipment in one piece.
Lester intended to turn things around this season, and thought he had at Daytona, when he was racing among the frontrunners for much of the race. Then, with just a handful of laps remaining, Lester blew a tire, seemed to save the truck, and was at the last minute broadsided by a competitor. Just his luck. He finished in 18th position.
So now he¿s turning things over to a higher power: Jobu, his new team mascot and co-pilot.
¿Jobu is my new buddy ¿ the guys on the team named him after the doll on Major League,¿ Lester said. ¿We¿re hoping he¿ll give us a little luck, because we¿ve sure had a lot of bad luck. We don¿t even want good luck; if we could just get rid of the bad luck, we¿d be OK.¿
A little extra testing time in the car never hurts, either. Because Atlanta Motor Speedway is not a stop on the Craftsman Truck circuit, testing here does not burn a test for truck teams. But the extra knowledge teams gain from practicing on the high-banked 1.54-mile oval is invaluable.
Lester tried several different set-ups during his two-day test, setting a fast lap around the track at 175.000 mph (31.68 seconds).
¿We most definitely benefit from this test,¿ Lester said. ¿We can use this information for Texas and probably for Charlotte. Their configurations are fairly complementary; we may not end up with the exact set-ups, but we¿ll learn the effect of a lot of different changes we make to the car.¿
Plus, Lester really loves coming to Atlanta Motor Speedway, which is his home track these days. Lester moved to Mableton two years ago, just before securing his ride with Bobby Hamilton Racing.
Lester earned his job during a tryout at Atlanta Motor Speedway two years ago, competing against two other minority drivers for team owner Bobby Hamilton. After unsuccessfully vying for the 2001 team, Lester was tabbed to be the team¿s third driver in 2002.
¿I love this track,¿ Lester said. ¿It¿s so fast, and it seems so competitive. I hope one day we can race here, because it would be a whole different animal. I would really love to be able to invite all my family and friends to come watch me race at this awesome place.¿