INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, July 15, 2003 -- A series of morning and afternoon rain showers caused NASCAR Winston Cup Series testing to last only 37 minutes July 15 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The track opened for the session at 9 a.m., and...
INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, July 15, 2003 -- A series of morning and afternoon rain showers caused NASCAR Winston Cup Series testing to last only 37 minutes July 15 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The track opened for the session at 9 a.m., and 23 drivers turned a total of 175 laps in a little more than a 30 minutes with Jimmie Johnson posting the top speed of 182.960 mph in the Hendrick Motorsports' No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet. Johnson's speed was less than 1 mph off Tony Stewart's NASCAR track record set during qualifying for the 2002 Brickyard 400.
Before the rain arrived, conditions were unusual for a July day in Indiana: cool and overcast. While conditions were ideal for speed, Johnson said they likely will not be helpful when teams return for Brickyard 400 qualifying on Aug. 2 and the 10th Brickyard 400 race on Aug. 3.
"I've only raced here last year, and with that in mind, conditions on race day were so hot and so slick that a day like today that's cool and overcast, we won't learn a lot to transfer over," Johnson said. "We worked on qualifying setup today. We qualify in the morning on race weekend, so there might be something that we learn. It's getting me laps. We're picking up data, so we are getting some information. I wish it was hot and really slick."
Due to the limited track time, NASCAR officials ruled that teams could have the option to test on July 16 to complete a full day of testing. The track will open at 9 a.m. (EST) and close at 5 p.m. More than 20 teams are expected to return for at least part of Wednesday. The only drivers confirmed to not participate July 16 are Robby Gordon, Ted Musgrave, Ken Schrader and Sprague.
Johnson's crew chief, Chad Knaus, said the greatest challenge facing teams now is to complete the information-gathering process at Indianapolis, get back to their Charlotte-area shops and hit the road once again for the New England 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway on July 20.
"The guys are getting tired," Knaus said. "They've been on the road for eight days almost. They'd like to see their wives and girlfriends and do some laundry. There's not really a whole we can do about it, so we'll come in tomorrow, probably run until about noon, hop on the airplane and go home."
Knaus said the decision to stay an extra day is an easy one, given that NASCAR allows each team only five tests per year.
"I would do the same thing at (any track)," he said. "Yes, it's Indianapolis, and yes, it's a bigger race, but when you look at the big picture, it's still 180 points. If you don't take advantage of every opportunity, you're done."
John Andretti continued his impressive return to the driver's seat, recording the second-fastest lap of the rain-shortened day at 181.246 in the Dale Earnhardt, Inc. No. 81 Kraft Foods Chevrolet, and rookie Jack Sprague was third fastest in the No. 0 NetZero HiSpeed Pontiac, fielded by Haas CNC Racing, at 181.235. Todd Bodine was fastest July 14 with a top speed of 178.879. Among the 11 drivers that tested July 8-9, rookie Tony Raines was fastest at 179.918.
Testing is tentatively scheduled to continue next week at Indianapolis, as Ryan Newman and the No. 12 Penske Racing team are scheduled to test July 22-23. Other teams may participate as well.
Reserved-seat Race Day tickets for the Brickyard 400 remain available. Tickets and parking can be purchased on the World Wide Web via www.imstix.com or by calling the IMS Ticket Office at (800) 822-INDY or (317) 492-6700.
BRICKYARD 400 TESTING NOTES:
Kenny Irwin Jr. Memorial Foundation Golf Outing Set: The Kenny Irwin Jr. Memorial Foundation has scheduled the Second Annual Kenny Irwin Jr. Memorial Golf Outing for July 30 at the Brickyard Crossing Golf Course, located on the grounds of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The outing will benefit the "Dare To Dream" Children's Camp, a camp for underprivileged and at-risk children.
The foundation was created to develop and support programs to honor the memory of the late Irwin, a NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver from Indianapolis. Defending NASCAR Winston Cup champion Tony Stewart, a native of Columbus, Ind., is among the NASCAR drivers who are expected to attend.
The goal of the fundraiser is to raise money to bring children to the Kenny Irwin Jr. Memorial Campground, which is located on 27 acres in New Castle, Ind., and is the site of the "Dare To Dream" Camp. Participation fee for the golf outing, starting at 11:30 a.m. (EST), is $175 per player. There also are sponsorship opportunities ranging from $250-$2,000. There will be a live and silent auction and raffle prizes including a Grand Prize, which is two suite tickets to the Brickyard 400.
Anyone interested in playing or sponsorship opportunities can contact the Kenny Irwin Jr. Memorial Foundation, at (877) 987-CAMP. Registrations and sponsorships can be faxed to (765) 987-0187. Money must be received by July 21. Donations are also being accepted for those not able to attend the golf outing. Donations can be sent to the Kenny Irwin Jr. Memorial Foundation, 75 W. County Road 500 South, New Castle, IN 47362.
Not Your Average Day at Indy: Robby Gordon echoed the sentiments of many drivers during July 15 testing, in that the weather conditions were much cooler than what teams will likely encounter -- or more appropriately, endure -- on Brickyard 400 race weekend. The conditions were cloudy with a high temperature in the lower 70s.
Race day conditions for the 2002 Brickyard 400 were unusually hot, but closer to the norm. At the start of the Brickyard 400 on Aug. 4, 2002, the temperature was 93 degrees with sunny skies, and the track temperature was a blistering 134 degrees. Gordon, driver of the No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet, said teams just have to make the best of the situation.
"We can learn a lot at tests like this," Gordon said. "Today, probably not a lot when it's cloudy and cool like this because it's not going to be like this when we come back and race. We came here last year it was 95 degrees. It was miserably hot. That's what yesterday was; yesterday was real hot. Today we're probably not going to learn a lot. We did some playing with some shocks and stuff like that, but we're really not worried about speed or balance, just trying to get more grip. And that's probably the biggest thing we learned today."
Not Your Average Racetrack: Kenny Wallace says the Indianapolis Motor Speedway puts a premium on a lot of things: horsepower, handling, engineering, and nerves.
"Indy is about running 200 mph on a flat racetrack, and when you come up on a corner, make a ninety-degree turn without putting the brakes on," said Wallace, driver of the No. 23 Stacker 2 Dodge for Bill Davis Racing. "So it's really hard to do. You got to have it all. You have to go down the straightaways as fast as you can, and you have to go through that corner. You don't want all that downforce on the car because you don't want to go down the straightaway slow. So you got to go down the straightaways fast, but yet, you have to have that handling in the corners."
So Far, So Good for Andretti and DEI: John Andretti is pleased with his first laps in a Dale Earnhardt, Inc. car, but he knows it's too early to tell whether it will land him a ride with the team at the Brickyard 400 and, perhaps, in the future.
"I don't know, you can come back to the Brickyard and draw a bad number or not," Andretti said. "Go out and have problems, anything can happen. I think the speed is good. We're actually doing a lot of race runs and other things. We didn't do a lot of qualifying runs because they wanted us to get comfortable. We wanted to get working together yesterday morning. So we just went out and felt things out. We worked on qualifying runs a little bit to see where we would be at and that's looking promising. Switching over to racing trim, hopefully that's a good sign -- that means we plan on racing rather than just qualifying."
Andretti said the time away from the NASCAR Winston Cup Series since being released in June from his ride with Petty Enterprises has been enjoyable, although he has agonized over missing races and is ready to get back in the hunt.
"Personally, it's been great," he said. "I've been able to spend time with my family and do things with them that I haven't been able to do before. Almost relaxed because when you're racing, it's week in and week out. There's a couple of days in between, but you're making appearances and already thinking about next week and you're thinking about what you're going to do. Right now, I'm trying to convince them that they need to test more, because I haven't done anything. They've got a guy that's been on a three week vacation ready to burn up the pavement."