EDWARDS LEADS OPENING DAY OF NEXTEL CUP TESTING AT INDIANAPOLIS INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, July 5, 2005 -- Rookie Carl Edwards topped the speed chart July 5 on the first day of 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series private testing at Indianapolis Motor ...
EDWARDS LEADS OPENING DAY OF NEXTEL CUP TESTING AT INDIANAPOLIS
INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, July 5, 2005 -- Rookie Carl Edwards topped the speed chart July 5 on the first day of 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series private testing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, posting a lap of 179.165 mph in the No. 99 AAA Ford.
Edwards was joined by a short list of testing participants: his Roush Racing teammate Kurt Busch, 1997 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard winner Ricky Rudd and Jimmy Spencer, who won the pole for the race in 2001.
Reigning series champion Busch, driving the No. 97 Crown Royal Ford, was second fastest at 179.151, Rudd was third in the No. 21 Motorcraft Genuine Parts Ford at 178.937 and Spencer was fourth at 178.839 in the No. 50 Arnold Motorsports Ford.
The track record at Indianapolis, set in qualifying in 2004 by Casey Mears, is 186.293.
All of the drivers tested to prepare for the 12th Allstate 400 at the Brickyard on Sunday, Aug. 7 at IMS.
The day was one of contrasts for Edwards, from Columbia, Mo. He was fastest even though he was taking his first laps at the famous 2.5-mile oval. And before his first day of testing for one of NASCAR's elite teams, his only memory of IMS came from performing the tasks of an entry-level crew member.
"The first time and the only time I've been down here in this garage was for a test session with the Hendrick Motorsports team when I was 16 or 17, when Kenny Schrader was testing," Edwards said. "I sat right over there and polished the wheels on the hauler and just dreamed of this, so it's really cool to get to run here.
"The name of the game here (today) is getting me laps. The AAA Ford is great. I can run a lap that is really fast and one that's not good, and the only thing that changed is my driving, so I just need to get laps."
Wednesday's participant list will shorten by two, as Edwards is not scheduled to test and Spencer crashed in the Speedway's Turn 1.
Spencer spun in Turn 1 and backed into the SAFER Barrier at approximately 2:30 p.m. (local time), causing heavy rear-end damage to the car. Spencer was unhurt, but the team brought only one car and ended their test.
Busch and Rudd agreed that, due to the prestige of the race and the new track surface, a two-day test was essential.
"It's high on our list," Busch said of winning the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. "I believe it's the only accomplishment my crew chief, Jimmy Fennig, hasn't accomplished. That's why we're here doing a two-day test. It pays the same in points, but it's definitely very prestigious when you get to take home that trophy."
The combination of new asphalt and diamond grinding bode well for an exciting race, Rudd said.
"The track, when they grind it, it just gives us grip, and they ground it from the bottom to the top, so it makes multiple grooves for us," Rudd said. "So I think you'll see side-by-side racing as good if not better than you've seen in the past."
Private test sessions are scheduled for July 11-12 and 18-19. Testing on July 11-12 promises to be the busiest, with 26 drivers scheduled to participate.
RICKY RUDD (No. 21 Motorcraft Genuine Parts Ford): "The track is quite a bit different than it was. It's making a tremendous amount of grip, and our setups are a little different than they were before because of that. You need to test here because it is different, and the track is extremely fast." (Will the track slow down once more rubber gets laid down?): "I don't think it's going to get any faster, for sure. The way they've done the grinding, and the way it worked at Charlotte (Lowe's) Motor Speedway is it just makes good grip. It doesn't seem to be as weather-sensitive as the track may have been in the past. But right now we don't have a lot to compare that on. It's overcast and cool, which are ideal testing conditions for this racetrack. But I can tell the track's making more grip, and it's not going to be as slippery or treacherous as it has been in the past when it does get hot. The track, when they grind it, it just gives us grip, and they ground it from the bottom to the top, so it makes multiple grooves for us. So I think you'll see side-by-side racing as good if not better than you've seen in the past."
KURT BUSCH (No. 97 Crown Royal Ford): "It's (the test) going smooth. We're just learning how much quicker this track is. It's a tough place to know what speed to run because of the temperatures and how sensitive this track is, and with the new tires. So we're just going about our business doing two to three-lap runs, and then checking over the computer data." (Indy's very different than any other track; is there any track grip-wise it compares to?): "This place is gorgeous. Just the smoothness, the speed, each of the four corners has its own attitude. There are a couple other tracks that have a good amount of grip, such as Dover, Delaware, with that concrete surface. A flat track similar to this is Phoenix, but it doesn't have the grip level that this racetrack has. Go in the corner, right back on the gas. You can fly around this place." (What would it mean to win at Indy?): "It's high on our list. I believe it's the only accomplishment my crew chief, Jimmy Fennig, hasn't accomplished. That's why we're here doing a two-day test. It pays the same in points, but it's definitely very prestigious when you get to take home that trophy." (You're disappointed there aren't more teams at this test. What is the difference this week compared to next week's big test?): "The track will fill in with rubber more quickly. When you have more cars out there running the same groove, the track will begin to fill in and give you more indication of what it will be like when we come back to race." (Is it faster than you thought it would be?): "It's definitely quick. It's got that attitude that it's going to give you all kinds of grip early on and then you're going to abuse your tires quickly if you don't moderate your setup."
JIMMY SPENCER (No. 50 Arnold Motorsports Ford): "It's a lot different than last year. Any time the track has a tremendous amount of grip like it does, it allows you to use the racetrack. It's not a single-groove racetrack any longer. You notice it more in the short chutes and entering Turn 2 and Turn 4, and that's where there's always been a bottleneck and slipping and sliding. I just think it's really going to allow you (drivers) to be side-by-side through the short chute and gets runs off the corners, more so than it used to be. I think it's going to be a lot better race." (What sets running at Indy apart from other tracks?): "As a young kid growing up, watching the Indy 500 was always special. And just the way the people treat you up here in Indianapolis, the fans are awesome. The track has so much history, and there's no other track in the world -- coming down the front stretch for the green flag, the track is surrounded by fans on both sides and there's no describing it (compared to) any other track that we run."
CARL EDWARDS (No. 99 AAA Ford): "The first time and the only time I've been down here in this garage was for a test session with the Hendrick Motorsports team when I was 16 or 17, when Kenny Schrader was testing. I sat right over there and polished the wheels on the hauler and just dreamed of this, so it's really cool to get to run here." (Can you convey what it was like coming down that straightaway for the first time, knowing all the history and all the drivers that have driven here?): "It's just amazing. I've watched the 500 and the 400 so many times here on TV, and you can see all the in-car cameras and stuff, but to actually be driving that car down into the corner at 200 mph, it's awesome. A neat feeling. To think all the greatest racers in the world have raced here, it's amazing to get to drive it." (Some of the veterans like Ricky Rudd are saying this track is more grippy now than ever, and this race could be really competitive. You don't have that historical perspective, but do you like what you see?) "Yeah, to me more grip, (or) less grip, it's not an issue. It's my first time here, and as long as it's the same for everyone, I'm fine. Actually, if it's different than what guys like Ricky Rudd, Kurt Busch and these other guys have experienced, I think it's better for me because they have to learn something, as well. I'm all for change because it puts everyone on more equal footing."
<pre> UNOFFICIAL SPEED REPORT, NASCAR NEXTEL CUP TESTING INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY, TUESDAY, JULY 5, 2005
Rank Car No. Driver Speed (mph) Total Laps 1. 99A Carl Edwards 179.165 49 2. 97A Kurt Busch 179.151 71 3. 21 Ricky Rudd 178.937 73 4. 50 Jimmy Spencer 178.839 21
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.