After two one-hour practice sessions for Sunday's Brickyard 400, Mark Martin sits atop the speed charts at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a lap at 180.643 mph. Of the 11 drivers who will have to qualify based on their times, Bill Elliott was...
After two one-hour practice sessions for Sunday's Brickyard 400, Mark Martin sits atop the speed charts at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a lap at 180.643 mph. Of the 11 drivers who will have to qualify based on their times, Bill Elliott was fastest. His lap at 179.094 mph was tenth fastest in the second session.
Juan Pablo Montoya has been the most consistent through both practice sessions, placing second fastest in both sessions.
With last year's tire problems becoming a non-issue at this point, drivers are now concerned about the double-file restarts at the Speedway. During the Indianapolis 500 the green flag is displayed while the cars are in the north chute, with drivers hitting the accelerator in Turn 3.
But NASCAR is different. The drivers are required to take a relatively slow approach to the start/finish line, which is not at the midpoint of the frontstretch. "This is one of the most unique restart zones that we have," said Jeff Gordon. "The start/finish line is closer to Turn one than people realize."
When the IndyCar drivers enter the front stretch they're flat out.
When the Cup drivers hit the middle of the front stretch they'll still be looking for the green.
"We always have problems on the restarts because we come so far down the straightway before we get to take the green flag," Gordon said. "I know a lot of drivers have talked to NASCAR about moving the restart zone back, especially now with the double-file restarts."
Gordon duly noted that the double file restarts have been exciting but the narrow corners at Indianapolis could cause problems. "There's a huge potential for disaster to happen," said Gordon. "Those restarts can make you or break you. It is certainly going to make for an interesting race, especially at the end of the race. There is not much of an outside groove here. You might be able to get through one and maybe a little bit of two but after that, the outside groove is pretty much done once you get up to speed."
Jeff Burton said everyone will be battling to get the bottom. "This is a bottom race track," said Burton. "If you restart on the outside you're going to want to be getting onto the bottom as quickly as you can. It's going to be real aggressive into Turn one, reall aggressive into Turn 2 and that's going to carry on down to Turn three I think.
Several drivers indicated that NASCAR will move the restart zone closer to Turn four. "Some cars will still be in the corner when the start happens and that allows better visibility," said Burton. "The further you move back toward the corner the more efficient the restart can be."