Indianapolis Test Day Three: Teams Resume Rain-Delayed Session * Jeff Gordon stresses test importance; impact of four career Indianapolis wins INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (July 12, 2006) -- Skies cleared Wednesday over Indianapolis Motor Speedway, ...
Indianapolis Test Day Three: Teams Resume Rain-Delayed Session
* Jeff Gordon stresses test importance; impact of four career Indianapolis wins
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (July 12, 2006) -- Skies cleared Wednesday over Indianapolis Motor Speedway, allowing NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series teams to hit the track for a final day of a three-day test.
Rain washed out Tuesday's session and delayed Wednesday's start, raising the anxiety and curiosity of many teams.
"Every team wants to be here and have as much track time as we possibly can, not to mention Goodyear has a little bit different tire," said four-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet), who visited the Indianapolis media center Wednesday morning. "So, with as much as has changed with the setups of the cars from last year to this year, and then the tire being different, we all are very anxious to get out there on the track."
Drivers got their opportunity at approximately 11:20 a.m., ET, following a three-hour rain delay. Wednesday's session was scheduled to last until 6:30 p.m., weather permitting, and its significance -- preparation for the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard on Aug. 6 -- remained unaltered by thunderstorms.
"I think just getting two or three laps is crucial to get telemetry for the team," Gordon said, "just to see if there's any new bumps, just traveling, you know, those types of things. It's that important just to get a couple of laps at speed."
The Indianapolis test is the fifth of six designated 2006 tests for NASCAR NEXTEL Cup teams. This year, NASCAR has scheduled those tests as a cost-containment measure at tracks hosting series events, and those dates are the only test opportunities at those tracks.
Fifty-one drivers were scheduled to test at Indianapolis, a session that began Monday and ended Wednesday. Teams could test on two of the three days, but with Tuesday's gloomy forecast and eventual rainout, some teams scheduled for Monday and Tuesday opted to delay their second day until Wednesday.
The Hendrick Motorsports teams of Gordon, Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet), Brian Vickers (No. 25 GMAC Chevrolet) and Kyle Busch (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet) were scheduled to test Tuesday and Wednesday, and Gordon acknowledged any analysis of Mother Nature is fruitless.
"Most of the time when we look at a forecast, it's a complete opposite anyway," he said. "We based our dates on how we like to test and we don't really like to test on a Monday. We like to give the guys on the team a break that day to get refreshed so that we can hit it hard for two days."
Less than a month away, the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard is race No. 5 in the Race to the Chase -- the 10-event span that began with the Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 1 and ends with the Sept. 9 Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond International Raceway.
The Richmond event is race No. 26, the cutoff point that sets the field for the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. Following the season's first 26 events, the top 10 drivers and any within 400 points of the leader will battle for the series title over the final 10 races.
Gordon, a four-time winner of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, would like a fifth victory. He is tied with racing greats A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears and Al Unser Sr. -- all four-time Indianapolis 500 winners -- for the second-most wins at Indianapolis. Formula 1 great Michael Schumacher has the most wins -- five -- in that series' U.S. Grand Prix at Indy.
Gordon, however, hesitates to quantify his achievements.
"As much as I love this race and am glad that I've won here, I still don't compare those wins to what those guys have done in the Indy 500," he said of Foyt, Mears and Unser. "Same way I kind of look at the F1 race, as well. It's just a totally different event and totally different types of cars. I think that you have to take each series and compare everything to that series."
Another topic addressed during Wednesday morning's media center session was the impending arrival of Formula 1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya (and 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner) to drive the No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates in 2007. Gordon and Montoya drove each other's cars during an exhibition run at Indianapolis in June 2003.
"I think really what sold him is probably just watching the sport grow and the competitiveness of looking at F1 and how little overtaking there is," Gordon said, "how you're so dictated by your team and the manufacturers, who hits it that year or what tire hits it that year, which strategy.
"Where in NASCAR, I think there's a lot more driver involvement in how you're going to perform. I think he's a great driver, so of course he's going to think like that."
What: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series testing.
Where: Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Track Layout: 2.5 miles.
When: Monday, July 10 through Wednesday, July 12.
Times: 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. (ET)
Who: 51 drivers in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series