For Immediate Release BRICKYARD 400 QUALIFYING MARK IN JEOPARDY, TEST TIMES QUICK INDIANAPOLIS, July 29, 1996 -- Based on recent Brickyard 400 test sessions at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Jeff Gordon's 1995 record qualifying lap of...
For Immediate Release
BRICKYARD 400 QUALIFYING MARK IN JEOPARDY, TEST TIMES QUICK
INDIANAPOLIS, July 29, 1996 -- Based on recent Brickyard 400 test sessions at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Jeff Gordon's 1995 record qualifying lap of 172.536 miles per hour at the historic 2.5-mile track won't last long when Busch Pole qualifying begins on Thursday, Aug. 1.
Gordon edged Bobby Hamilton for the Brickyard pole last season by less than a tenth of a second. But Gordon's time of 52.163 seconds has been shattered by many drivers during recent practice sessions. The newly resurfaced track, a different Goodyear radial and removal of rumble strips in the corners should produce a qualifying lap in excess of 177 mph.
Greg Sacks clocked the fastest unofficial lap during testing on July 9 in the No. 29 Wacky Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Sacks turned in a lap of 50.750 seconds or 177.340 mph. Sterling Marlin was second fastest on that day at 176.748 mph.
Rick Mast, pole winner of the inaugural Brickyard 400, tested three different Pontiacs during that practice session and returned this week for a final Brickyard 400 tuneup.
Mast says the newly resurfaced track is as smooth as glass, but maintains that removing the rumble strips -- saw-cuts on the inside edge of the track -- is the big reason for the increased speeds.
"If you can keep your left wheel on the white line, you're going to run about the same speed we ran there last year," Mast said. "If you move down two and a half feet, where the rumble strips were before, and put the left sides down close to the grass, it's about a second faster or maybe more."
"To me, it's like a different race track now. The pole will probably be a second and a half faster. It'll probably be a 50.60-second lap."
Mast credits his pole run at Indy in 1994 as a big turning point in his career.
"Every autograph session I do, I still have to sign something from that race," Mast said. "There must be 10 million zillion things out there they made to sign for that inaugural Brickyard 400."
Kyle Petty says the track, tires and removal of the rumble strips will play a big part in the pole speed, but the 36-year-old, third-generation NASCAR driver warns not to forget about Mother Nature.
"If the weather's good and the track is shaded right, it's going to be fast," Petty said. "If it's a 95-degree day and it's been hot for a week, it's going to be slow. Some people had really good weather to test on up there and some people had really bad days. The first day we were up there the best lap was just at the pole speed from '95. Then the next day, it was a 51 flat just because the weather was better."
Gordon expects his track record to be broken, but he's not so sure it'll be shattered.
"We tested there three days, and I don't know what the pole speed is going to be," Gordon said. "We were at least a second, almost two seconds off from the fastest guys who tested there."
"We were faster than anybody when we were there, and I thought it was a pretty good test. I'll be real surprised if those other guys come back and run as fast as they did."
"I heard the weather was ideal when they were there, but I find it hard to believe it was a second or second and a half faster. We'll find out when we get there and we're all together."