David Stremme Leads the Speed Parade As NEXTEL Cup Teams Test at Lowe's Motor Speedway CONCORD, N.C. (May 7, 2007) - Preparations for the May 19 NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge and the May 27 Coca-Cola 600 shifted into high gear Monday as 51...
David Stremme Leads the Speed Parade As NEXTEL Cup Teams Test at Lowe's Motor Speedway
CONCORD, N.C. (May 7, 2007) - Preparations for the May 19 NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge and the May 27 Coca-Cola 600 shifted into high gear Monday as 51 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series teams tested at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
Crew chiefs, engineers and mechanics spent the six-hour session analyzing data and making suspension adjustments as "The Best of the Southeast" teased drivers who strived to top the speed chart.
David Stremme proved to be the best at taming The Beast as the driver of the No. 40 Coors Light Dodge was fastest among the 82 cars with a lap at 187.0 mph.
"The tires are still really hard and there's not a lot of grip. You've got to be really careful," said Stremme. "Other than that, things are going well. We are just taking our time and working through things."
Jeremy Mayfield, who has struggled this season to make races in the No. 36 360 OTC Toyota, was second fastest at 185.134 mph and Paul Menard was third on the speed chart at 184.932 mph in the No. 15 Menard's Chevrolet.
Ward Burton and Stremme's teammate, Reed Sorenson, rounded out the top five.
"We hurt an engine and we're changing it," said defending Coca-Cola 600 winner Kasey Kahne, who was 14th fastest in the No. 9 Dodge Dealers Dodge. "Other than that, it's been a good test. The tire's hard, but we've had it for a year now, so we're getting used to it."
"I think this is the same tire we ran in the spring last year. The grip level was pretty far down then, and it's still pretty far down," said Jeff Burrton, driver of the No. 31 Cingular Chevrolet. "I think we expected it, so it's not that big of a deal.
"Our test is going pretty well," added Burton, who was 31st in the evening rundown. "We're trying to learn a lot, not only for this race track, but other race tracks as well. We don't get a lot of tests and, of course, the tires are limited."
The testing session marked the first time the seven Toyota teams had run on Lowe's Motor Speedway's 1.5-mile oval.
"All the teams are working hard on their test plans and seem to be gaining ground early in today's session," said Andy Graves, senior manager of Toyota Racing Development U.S.A. "Lowe's Motor Speedway is one of those race tracks that makes dramatic changes from day to night so I feel like there will be even more to learn from the later sessions. We are continuing to gain information from these test sessions that we are able to take back to TRD and analyze prior to returning for the race in just a couple weeks."
The test was also the first time the drivers have been on the track since both the inside and outside retaining walls were painted yellow in preparation for the May 19 NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge.
"The yellow wall is really psychedelic. It reminds me of the '60s," said Kenny Wallace. "You get used to a look for 20 years-I've been racing here since 1989-and now it's different. But it's neat. It adds a lot of color to the place."
The only accident of the day came just before the session ended when Denny Hamlin lost control of the No. 11 FedEx Chevrolet and backed hard into the outside SAFER barrier. The Chesterfield, Va., driver was evaluated and released from the Carolinas HealthCare Infield Care Center.
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series testing continues Tuesday with on-track sessions from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Lowe's Motor Speedway's frontstretch grandstand will be open free of charge and fans should enter through Gate 5A, located next to the main ticket office.
The speedway's annual Royal Flush is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and race fans are asked to help officials test the track's water and sewer system.
Tickets for all May events at Lowe's Motor Speedway, including the May 19 NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge and the May 27 Coca-Cola 600, are still available and can be purchased by calling 1-800-455-FANS or online at www.lowesmotorspeedway.com.