ROUSH RACING'S BIFFLE, KENSETH FASTEST IN BUSY INDY TESTING INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, July 11, 2005 -- Roush Racing teammates Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth served notice that they will contend for victory in the 12th Allstate 400 at the Brickyard by...
ROUSH RACING'S BIFFLE, KENSETH FASTEST IN BUSY INDY TESTING
INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, July 11, 2005 -- Roush Racing teammates Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth served notice that they will contend for victory in the 12th Allstate 400 at the Brickyard by posting the fastest laps in private testing July 11 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Biffle turned the fastest lap of the day at 181.963 mph in the No. 16 National Guard Ford. Kenseth was just .22 of a mph slower at 181.742 in the No. 17 DeWalt Tools Ford.
Roush Racing's Kurt Busch was fastest in two days of testing last week at 180.208.
Biffle sits second in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series points, but he said the team's approach to the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard will not change despite its comfortable position heading into the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup.
"We come here to win," he said. "We're going to be as focused as we can and as conscious of everything that's going on as we can. We're pretty happy with the test so far today, and we're just going to continue to do what we can do."
Rounding out the top five were Ken Schrader in the No. 49 Schwan's Home Service Dodge at 181.727, Robby Gordon in fourth at 181.722 in the No. 7 Fruit of the Loom Chevrolet and Elliott Sadler at 181.495 in the No. 38 M&M's Ford.
Sadler took Biffle's thoughts about the upcoming Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, scheduled for 2:30 p.m. (EDT) Sunday, Aug. 7, a step further by saying that all bets are off come the first weekend of August.
"The guys that are up front (in the Chase) are ones that are being consistent," he said. "We're not going to take any big chances, until we come to Indy because Indy's in a league of it's own as far as trying to win the race.
"Do the math: How many teams are out here testing? This is not just another race on the schedule, I don't think. The George family does such a great job promoting it. We have more fans here than anywhere else we race. It's a lot of prestige that comes with running here, and you ask any team that's won here how much fun it was and how much emphasis they put on it. I know our team spends just as much time preparing a car here as it does for the Daytona 500 because it just means so much."
2003 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard champion Kevin Harvick knows how much fun it was to win at Indianapolis, and reflected on the memories of winning from the pole two years ago.
"The thing I remember the most about winning here was taking the victory lap after the race, seeing all the fans that stayed over and just letting it all sink in after Victory Lane and kissing the bricks," Harvick said. "To share that moment with (wife) DeLana and (owner) Richard (Childress) and take it all in for a nice, slow victory lap around the track was probably the most memorable thing of the weekend. We put a lot of effort into this race, so everybody was pretty pumped up. This is where you bring your next generation of motors, usually, and your best car, and hopefully you bring your 'A' game."
Weather forecasts call for the remnants of Hurricane Dennis to bring heavy rain to Indianapolis over the next several days, so the 23 NEXTEL Cup Series drivers and teams on hand at IMS took advantage of cloudy but dry skies -- save for a few afternoon sprinkles -- to turn a total of 1,988 laps on the 2.5-mile oval. Boris Said, who will attempt to qualify for his first Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, turned the most laps of any driver with 137.
Testing is scheduled for Tuesday, July 12, with more testing July 18-19. Drivers scheduled to participate next week include former Allstate 400 at the Brickyard winners Jeff Gordon, Dale Jarrett and Bill Elliott, Indiana native Tony Stewart, former USAC standout Kasey Kahne, Indiana native Tony Raines and Dale Earnhardt Jr., winner of the NEXTEL Cup Series race July 10 at Chicagoland Speedway.
Fans are welcome to watch testing July 12, 18 and 19 from the South Terrace grandstands, located in the infield between Turns 1 and 2. Admission is free.
QUOTES FROM SELECTED NEXTEL CUP DRIVERS AT IMS TEST:
GREG BIFFLE (No. 16 National Guard Ford): (You're in the heart of the Chase this year and you're coming here in a different situation than in the past -- does that change your approach?) "Not really. We come here to win. We're going to be as focused as we can and as conscious of everything that's going on as we can. We're pretty happy with the test so far today, and we're just going to continue to do what we can do."
DAVE BLANEY (No. 07 Jack Daniel's Chevrolet): (How is IMS different from anyplace else you run?): "Well, we don't have short chutes anywhere else, that's for sure. This flat of a corner with this long of a straightaway, it's unique, but it's a blast to race here, no doubt. It always has been (special to come to Indy). This is some kind of place and you see it filled up with people on Race Day, it's just unbelievable. Just to be able to race here is a privilege that all of us are thankful for."
JEFF BURTON (No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet): "We know right now, for example, we're a step behind the #48 (Jimmie Johnson), we're a step behind the #16 (Greg Biffle). There are three or four teams we're behind. We're in that next group. That's not where we are in points; that's where we are in how we run. What we have to do is not concentrate on running seventh, eighth, ninth in a race and say, 'Hey, that might be good enough.' We have to concentrate on the fact we're not finishing there. Number two, we need to get to where we can run in the front with the #48 and the #16 and those guys. That's what our focus is on. We're a team that on any given Sunday, we can do it, although we haven't done it consistently like we need to." (About the new surface at IMS): "It's different. It looks the same. It's looked the same since the beginning of time, but it drives different. Turn 4, I think, is the biggest difference to get through than it was in the past. Getting the car to turn on the entrance to Turn 4 is the biggest issue we have. But it's great material on the racetrack. It's really smooth, a lot of grip. I think they made a help to the racetrack, for sure." (About Indy): "The novelty of Indy isn't a novelty. For anyone who has any respect for history, when you go through that tunnel, if you don't get goose bumps that you're in a special place, something's wrong. A lot of great things went on here before NASCAR was here. Any true race fan should have a tremendous amount of respect for that. I hope that we add to the history and the heritage of the facility because certainly it was way up there before we got to here, and hopefully we add to that."
MIKE GARVEY (No. 66 Jani-King Ford): "First time I've ever been here. It's everything I always thought it'd be. This is like a dream come true for me. Every kid growing up, I mean, Daytona and Indy, they're the two racetracks you'd like to go to. They're two tracks you just get goose bumps pulling up inside it. To finally get to drive it and go around is just awesome. Things feel pretty good. We're actually trying with two cars. We think we have a motor issue with this one car. So we're going to pull the other car out just to try to baseline it. But the track's great. It's fun. You think of all the people who've raced here, you think of A.J. Foyt and all the guys going back in the 1900s. Like I said, it gives you goose bumps just going around here. It's a dream come true, and it's something I'll always remember."
ROBBY GORDON (No. 7 Jim Beam Chevrolet): "We look forward to coming back here. We've had such good runs here in the Brickyard 400.I know I was driving for Richard Childress Racing. But we've been running pretty good with our team this year. Menard's doing a great job getting our engines better. I think being able to come here and learn some stuff at this test will make us a lot stronger when we come back in August. The biggest thing for us (at the test) are two things. We have to qualify because we're outside that top 35 because of the problems we had at the beginning of the year. I think we're making up on that, and I think we're going to be good in the race. We'd obviously like to run good in the test and in the race."
KEVIN HARVICK (No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet): "We've made a lot of gains since we've been here, ended the session pretty happy with the speed and everything we've got out of the car." (How is the track different with the new surface?): "It's definitely different. (It) looks like it's been painted with the grinding. It's got a lot of grip, it's very smooth. The car rides really smooth. You don't feel any transitions or any bumps, so they did a great job with the surface. Hopefully it will be a little bit racier than it has been." (How do you feel coming in having won this event?): "We've always run well here. Obviously, winning here was a really big deal for us, and it's right up on the top with anything we've done." (When you look back on it, what was it like to win here, kiss the bricks, etc?): "The thing I remember the most about winning here was taking the victory lap after the race, seeing all the fans that stayed over and just letting it all sink in after Victory Lane, and "Kissing the Bricks," the victory ceremonies. To share that moment with (wife) DeLana and (owner) Richard (Childress) and take it all in for a nice, slow victory lap around the track was probably the most memorable thing of the weekend." (What was it like going home from Indy knowing you'd won?): "We put a lot of effort into this race, so everybody was pretty pumped up. This is where you bring your next generation of motors, usually, and your best car, and hopefully you bring your "A" game. This is a place everybody wants to win. It's more than just another race." (Biggest win of your career?): "Oh yeah, definitely the biggest win." (Could anything top it?): "It would be hard. A championship." (The Daytona 500?): "I grew up watching the Indy 500 wanting to race Indy cars, so, I know that's probably not the most politically correct thing to say, but I don't know that (there) would be any one event that's any bigger."
TRAVIS KVAPIL (No. 77 Jasper Engines/Kodak Dodge): "It's been really good. It's my first time here so just a few hours on the track this morning. I took a ride around in a safety truck this morning just to familiarize myself with where I was going to be out there in the race car. It's neat. The track's really fun, a lot of grip. It's unique. I don't think you can compare it to anywhere else I've ever been. It's a track where you need to hit your marks and figure out where you need to be, how much brake to use, just one of those places where you find your speed by that." (About growing up and his look at Indy): "I always wished I'd be able to (run Indy) but never really thought I'd be able to. The racing I was involved with was always stock cars and fenders. I never really wanted to pursue the path of open-wheel cars, and I thought that'd be the only way to get to race at The Brickyard. To be able to have the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup cars here is pretty neat and for me to be able to experience the Brickyard is pretty amazing. It's definitely a racetrack I never thought I'd be able to turn a lap on, so it's very cool to be able to do that along with all the great drivers who have been here."
BOBBY LABONTE (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet): "I think we started out pretty good this morning. Hopefully we can hit on the right combination in this day or two, come back for the race and be good. I fought Turn 4 more than anything else this morning, but it seems like it's pretty smooth and got all the right stuff." (Coming back after all these years, is it still special even to test here?): "Whether you win here or not, it's pretty exciting, of course. The first time I drove in here it was more exciting then it is now of course, but all in all, it's not like going other places to test. You try real hard, it (the track) is weather-sensitive; it's got its own character to it. Each corner has got its own character to it. You enter and exit a little differently and use as much throttle as you can. It's intimidating at times, and sometimes it goes good, too. It's just a cool place to come test, and race especially." (Do these test days get a bit monotonous?): "If you're not learning much it gets that way, but if you're doing well, it's a whole different program. I think in 2000 we came up here to test, we were awful, and we came back and won the race. Testing is good if you can learn a lot."
JASON LEFFLER (No. 11 FedEx Chevrolet): "The Brickyard 400 is a real special race, and any time you come to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, there's something special about it. But the atmosphere is certainly different between the Indy 500 and the Brickyard 400. I can't explain it; it's just a different atmosphere. I drove through the gate this morning and was really excited. Took off on the warm-up lap, and you always kind of get chills. The first lap of the year around this racetrack. So much history here, and I like how you can run one Indy 500 and everyone calls you an Indy 500 veteran. I've thought that was pretty funny, but everything about Indianapolis is great. I love the city. I love the people, and I love all the racing around here."
KEVIN LEPAGE (No. 37 Patron Tequila Dodge): "Actually, we've got two cars here, but only one's going on the racetrack. We've got a brand-new car here that we're just going to try to get the bugs worked out of it before we come back here for the Brickyard. But the other car is the car we ran in Chicago. I'm really looking forward to it. I've always liked the Brickyard, always have run well here, we've got a new car. We've got another new one that we may bring back if it's as good as we think it'll be."
CASEY MEARS (No. 41 Target Dodge): (About driving an Indy car here first before becoming a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup regular): "It maybe helped the first time I came here in a stock car because I had at least been around the track before. Now my mindset doesn't really relate to anything about when I ran the Indy car because these cars are so much different. But definitely getting laps around this place are valuable. We're really, really tight, and the car's not wanting to turn. We're clicking along OK, but speeds aren't there right now, so we're just trying to get it freed up."
JOE NEMECHEK (No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet): "It's one of these tracks that you have to drive in the corner awful hard and you have to make sure you hit your marks right where you need to. And your car's got to be able to handle good. I've been fortunate to have some good handling race cars here. We've never had the success in the race that we've had in qualifying but getting that thing down in the corner and hanging it out for a lap, I've been pretty good at. Just trying to find the right balance."
KYLE PETTY (No. 45 Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge): "We came to test some stuff, and we won't know until we come back to the race. We're going to test a few different things. The Cheerios Dodge is going to come back next week and test some stuff. So we'll put all that together, and hopefully we'll come back with a pretty good race car. The best I've run here is when I drove for Felix (Sabates) in the Mello Yello car and the Coca-Cola car, so it's been a long time since I've run decent here. With the new Dodge Charger, I think we're getting better and better. I think Ray's (Evernham) engines have helped us a lot this year. When you try to take two and make one, hopefully you can make the best car you can get. That's what we're trying to do."
SCOTT RIGGS (No. 10 Valvoline Chevrolet): "(Things are going) pretty good. One car has a little bit different style body than the other car. The chassis are pretty close to the same. We're trying to see what attitude the bodies are like and which car seems to be more comfortable for me and which one we can get to turn the best. It's surprising. Last year when I came to the test for the first time, it really took me a long time to get the speed. It seemed like I had to keep pushing myself to get in deeper, use less brake, carry more speed through the corner. It seems like after you get out there in race conditions and you get around a lot of other cars. It seems like I'm up to speed right out of the box this year, so I'm a lot more comfortable this year."
ELLIOTT SADLER (No. 38 M&M's Ford): "I think everything's (the test) going great. My guys always seem to bring out a really good car for the Indy test and Indy race, so they've done it again. We've got just as good a car as we had last year, and I'm looking forward to when we come back for the race. I think it's going to be big." (On running for the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup, and preparing for the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard): "The guys that are up front (in the Chase) are ones that are being consistent. We're not going to take any big chances, until we come to Indy because Indy's in a league of it's own as far as trying to win the race. We're going to be safe, taking four tires, not running out of gas, anything that might get us a couple laps down. We're just trying to be consistent and be there at the end." (Eleven years after the inaugural race, is this race one on the schedule that is something special?): "Well, do the math: How many teams are out here testing? This is not just another race on the schedule, I don't think. There's so much history at this track. The George family does such a great job promoting it. We have more fans here than anywhere else we race. It's a lot of prestige that comes with running here, and you ask any team that's won here how much fun it was and how much emphasis they put on it. I know our team spends just as much time preparing a car here as it does for the Daytona 500 because it just means so much." (You finished third here last year after struggling previously. What was the difference?): "Todd Parrott's the difference. He's won this race a couple times, probably should have won it a bunch of times (but) his fuel mileage is not so good here (laughs). He's an awesome crew chief for here and really gets up for it. He is on his game every time we step in this racetrack. He's really on it today, understands what's the car wants. We plugged him in last year here (for) the first time, we qualified third, we finished third. We're lightning-fast again today, so you put him in the equ ation you're going to have a good run here at Indy."
BORIS SAID (No. 36 CENTRIX Financial Chevrolet): "I came here actually when (Juan) Montoya and Jeff Gordon did the switch and did a few rides on the road course in the BMWs, but it's my first time (here) in a NEXTEL Cup car. It's pretty fun. It's fast. There's a lot of history. It's pretty cool just getting used to it. I remember I came here and watched my first race in like 1990 or 1991 when Arie (Luyendyk) won. I went to a lot of Indy-car races before that, but it was pretty special. You kind of get choked up and get to see all the people and what it looks like. It's just an awesome racetrack. It's going to be tough to make the race, but hopefully we'll get a day of testing and I'll get comfortable and I'll be fast enough to make it."
MIKE WALLACE (No. 4 Lucas Oil Chevrolet): "I had the privilege of being the first car on the track for the first official open practice here for a race weekend. I haven't been able to run every race here like I originally hoped to. But the Morgan-McClure team is here testing, and I think we'll have a decent run. On any given day, you can win a race. The track itself has changed a lot (since the beginning of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard) in the appearance of it. Down pit road, or the new pagoda, or whatever you want to call it in the middle of the grandstands. This is an incredibly neat place. It's an entirely different racetrack than we run on all year long because of the golf course in the infield; you don't see all the motor homes. You only see bits and pieces of the racetrack at any given time. It's got a lot of history, a lot of history, and I'm just happy to be part of it."
RUSTY WALLACE (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge): "I like the place. It's fun. I don't like testing here. It's a royal pain in the rear end to have to come up here and test. It's always hot and sticky and gummy and all that, and we run and run and run and the car doesn't run any different in speed, it seems like. But it's a necessary evil. It's something you have to do. It's more fun coming back for the race." (Does this track owe you one?): I don't think any racetrack owes you one. I'd just like to have one. With three second-place finishes, I would hope I'd finally win one." (About the track): "It looks like it has more grip. It's a little bit smoother. I didn't know what to think about it. I heard it was real fast, then I heard it was slick, then I heard it was all kinds of things. I didn't pay attention to it until I got up here. The track doesn't feel any different to me than it has in the past other than it's a little more grippy. I've always had good runs at Indy. This place has been real kind to me. I enjoy coming up here. Like I said, I'm just not a big fan of testing. If it was Tuesday, maybe I'd feel a little different, but when you get out of the car (Sunday at Chicagoland) and come straight from there to here, I'm tired, man. I'm looking for a bed tonight." (What would it mean to win here this year?): "It would be a great feeling, no doubt about that, I'd love to get a victory here at Indianapolis. I've had three second-place finishes. In '93 (1995), the year Earnhardt won, I had a half-lap lead when I pitted and they crashed on pit road and I got blocked in. He beat me out, and when we came across the (finish) line we were bumper-to-bumper. That was a great finish that year. And then the year I led, I think there was like nine laps to go, Bobby Labonte passed me. Car was pushing on the front end real bad. And then the year that Bill Elliott won, he deserved to win because he blew everybody off all day long. I two-tired it, got out front and got a big, big lead, and he chased me down with like nine to go and passed me. That's three good second-place finishes, and I know a lot of those characters would like to say they've done that. This place is fun. Last year I missed the setup a little too much, but this year, I don't think I'll miss it this year." (Have there been any moments of doubt this year about your decision to retire?): "Oh, there's been a lot of doubt, but I'm sticking with my decision."
MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 15 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet): "We all look forward to it. It's definitely one of the biggest races of the year. I'm real proud to get to come here to this wonderful facility and compete. I've always enjoyed racing here. Think the first or second year we had a top-10 finish and we haven't had one since, so we have to get back on it and hopefully we'll figure that one out and have a good run coming up in a couple weeks. It's (the test) going well. It's basically the same old Indy. You fight the same things whether it's new pavement or old pavement or grinded pavement. It's just the same, working on the turns."
<pre> UNOFFICIAL SPEED REPORT, NASCAR NEXTEL CUP TESTING INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY, MONDAY, JULY 11, 2005
Rank Car# Driver Speed (mph) Total Laps 1. 16 Greg Biffle 181.963 112 2. 17 Matt Kenseth 181.742 90 3. 49 Ken Schrader 181.727 47 4. 7 Robby Gordon 181.722 45 5. 38 Elliott Sadler 181.495 79 6. 41 Casey Mears 181.296 90 7. 01 Joe Nemechek 180.751 133 8. 31 Jeff Burton 180.402 84 9. 11 Jason Leffler 180.270 126 10. 15 Michael Waltrip 180.260 95 11. 29 Kevin Harvick 180.060 62 12. 37 Kevin Lepage 179.725 27 13. 42 Jamie McMurray 179.674 117 14. 19 Jeremy Mayfield 179.661 134 15. 2 Rusty Wallace 179.633 49 16. 77 Travis Kvapil 179.525 92 17. 18 Bobby Labonte 179.506 109 18. 45 Kyle Petty 179.265 98 19. 07 Dave Blaney 178.813 61 20. 10 Scott Riggs 178.477 75 21. 36 Boris Said 177.298 137 22. 4 Mike Wallace 177.110 84 23. 66 Mike Garvey 174.795 42
Tickets: To purchase tickets, camping or parking for the 12th Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, contact the IMS ticket office at (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area, (317) 492-6700 locally or log on to www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com.