SORENSON FAST ON SHORTENED FINAL DAY OF NASCAR TESTING AT INDY INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, July 12, 2006 -- Rookie Reed Sorenson was fastest among 42 drivers participating in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series testing July 12 at the Indianapolis Motor ...
SORENSON FAST ON SHORTENED FINAL DAY OF NASCAR TESTING AT INDY
INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, July 12, 2006 -- Rookie Reed Sorenson was fastest among 42 drivers participating in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series testing July 12 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Sorenson's lap of 181.892 mph in the No. 41 Target Dodge was also the fastest overall in the two days of testing that took place this week at the legendary 2.5-mile oval, as teams prepared for the 13th annual Allstate 400 at the Brickyard on Sunday, Aug. 6. Teams also tested Monday, July 10 as the scheduled testing Tuesday, July 12 was rained out.
"We've gone up and down here," Sorenson said. "We've got a pretty good car; we've got two cars that we're trying to get fast. (We) tried a couple things that we've never done before just to see if they work. So far some have worked and some haven't."
Despite the fast lap, Sorenson said the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates team still needs more work to ensure success in the 160-lap Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.
"It's not really a big deal, it's all about making sure it drives good after one lap," he said. "We've got to have a car that will run good on long runs, and right now we don't really have that. So, we're not real happy with what we've got now. We're trying to get better."
Kurt Busch was second fastest at 181.025 in the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge, creating a unique 1-2 for the testing. Sorenson drives for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, and Busch drives for Penske Racing South. Team owner Chip Ganassi won the Indianapolis 500 in 2000 with new NASCAR recruit Juan Pablo Montoya behind the wheel while Roger Penske has a record 14 Indianapolis 500 wins, including the 2005 race with driver Sam Hornish Jr.
Scott Wimmer was third at 180.563 in the No. 4 AERO Exhaust Chevrolet, Ken Schrader was fourth at 180.115 in the No. 21 Little Debbie Ford and Elliott Sadler, last year's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard pole winner, took fifth at 180.040 in the No. 38 M&M's Ford.
The top 21 speeds July 12 were faster than the top lap of practice July 10, a 177.518 by Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet. But Earnhardt's fastest lap was recorded in vastly different weather conditions. Monday was sunny, humid and hot, with a high temperature of 85. Testing Wednesday took place under clouds and temperatures in the upper 70s, providing more ideal conditions for generating speed.
The track record for NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series cars is 186.293 mph, set by Casey Mears during qualifying in 2004.
Early-morning rain showers Wednesday delayed the start of testing more than three hours, until 11:12 a.m. (ET). The 42 drivers wasted little time getting to work, turning a combined 2,791 laps in 65 cars for the day.
Several top teams that took Monday off and planned to test July 11-12, including Penske Racing and Hendrick Motorsports, were forced to alter their testing plans. Busch said it was a challenge to get everything done in only half the time allotted to them.
"We really thrashed through some of our items we wanted to have done in more detail and eliminated some of the other things just so we could get it done in one day," Busch said. "We had a lot on our plate with two cars with the time we had today, but it was generous of the Speedway to open up early and to let us go later. We think we've got a good base of notes to allow the engineers to go and look at different things and quiz me about and hopefully come back with a better Miller Lite Dodge."
Before the start of the day's testing, four-time Allstate 400 at the Brickyard winner Jeff Gordon summed up the importance of turning as many laps as possible at Indianapolis Motor Speedway before Allstate 400 at the Brickyard weekend:
"It's a very important test," he said. "The Brickyard is a big, big event; 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. 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, not to mention we don't have many more days left in the schedule to come back here."
Allstate 400 at the Brickyard activities get underway at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday, Aug. 4 with two NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series practices and Chevy Day at the Brickyard, a family-friendly event sponsored by Chevrolet featuring appearances by Chevrolet-sponsored NASCAR drivers, interactive games, racing simulators, NASCAR race cars and live music.
Gates open to the public at 8 a.m. and the NEXTEL Cup practices are scheduled for 1:30-2:30 p.m. and 3:30-4:30 p.m. (ET). The schedule for Chevy Day at the Brickyard activities will be announced shortly.
Public gates open on Saturday, Aug. 5 at 7 a.m., and Allstate 400 at the Brickyard qualifying is scheduled for 10:10 a.m., followed by practice sessions from 1:30-2:30 p.m. and 3:30-4:30 p.m.
On Race Day, Sunday, Aug. 6, gates open to the public at 7 a.m., and the 13th running of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. (ET).
NASCAR NEXTEL CUP SERIES TESTING QUOTES:
REED SORENSON (No. 41 Target Dodge): "We've gone up and down here. We've got a pretty good car; we've got two cars that we're trying to get fast. Tried a couple things that we've never done before just to see if they work. So far some have worked and some haven't. This track is one of the most historic tracks, if not the most historic track, so I'm real happy to get the chance to run here, and right now we're trying to get this car tuned in so we can run a good race." (What's it mean to be on top of the speed charts today?): "It's not really a big deal; it's all about making sure it drives good after one lap. We've got to have a car that will run good on long runs, and right now we don't really have that. So, we're not real happy with what we've got now. We're trying to get better."
JIMMIE JOHNSON (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet): (About how important these few hours of testing were for the team): "The hours were very important. It's the same for each team. So much has changed since last year until this year that all the teams, including ours, were desperate to get on the track. We didn't have the test we wanted, but got some very important information, very useful information that helps us go home and make adjustments." (Looking forward to coming back?): "We've got a little work ahead of us, so we're not too fired up yet."
TONY STEWART (No. 20 The Home Depot Chevrolet): (About the different weather for the testing days): "It never hurts to have different days for testing because it just gives you that much more opportunity to gather data, so you know whether it helps or not when we come back, you never know. I hope the weather isn't like this when we come back. It gives you another set of data to go from and learn from." (About the different tire compound): "It isn't just a different compound, but the construction is a little different, too. It seems to be a lot tighter tire. I mean everyone is having a rough time getting their car to roll through the corners. I don't know. We'll wait and see how we shake out with everybody else. It's hard on a day like today because you're trying different things. You're not trying to be the fastest guy. You're just trying things to see what works and what doesn't work and whatever you do to your car and how it affects your race car."
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet): (About how important it was to get some track time): "It was very important. You know, obviously we wanted to get a full two days in to get as much information as we could. But, we'll take what we can get. I think we got enough laps done to learn what this tire is going to do and get some good data for the race team and their telemetry. And now we can go back and look at it all and hopefully we can come back with a good package." (About working out of the F1 garages): "I like it. I wish we could do it during the race. If not this year, maybe next year we could do that." (About his confidence coming into the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard): "Well, we've always been good here, but we want to be good enough to win and get ourselves in a good position and qualifying always helps that. So, we're feeling pretty good about the way things are going about the car and about the team and performance. We've had some wins, so we're hoping we can carry some of that momentum and bring that here to the Brickyard in August." (About the track): "Obviously, tires are an issue right now and with this track being as green as it is. This tire gives up a lot of speed, which should be a good thing for the race. We saw some guys having some tire issues after seven to 10 laps, but as we went on, it seemed to get better. So, by the time we get back here we should be in good shape." Select quotes from pre-practice press conference): "Yeah, it's a very important test. You know, the Brickyard is a big, big event. 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. 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, not to mention we don't have many more days left in the schedule to come back here." (How much time do you think it's going to take you guys to get rubber back on the racetrack? That was a concern Monday, to get to where you can test certain things. Does that impact your testing plan for today?): "Definitely. We heard about the guys that were here Monday and how it took quite a while. I know some of them said at the beginning of the day it was only six or eight laps before the tires were almost down to the cords. Obviously, that's because there wasn't any rubber on the track. That's important. For us, I think just getting two or three laps is crucial to get telemetry for the team, just to see if there's any new bumps, just traveling, those types of things. It's that important just to get a couple of laps at speed. But as far as getting good, solid information that we can come back here with, yeah, we need to run several hours and get a lot of cars out there with a lot of rubber down." (A couple weeks ago, Michael Schumacher won his fifth event here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Some people are wondering how to compare what he's done to the guys at the Indy 500. How do you compare what you have done here at the Brickyard to the long history of winning four times in the Indianapolis 500?): "Well, I've never felt like there's a real good comparison there. I mean, if you look at the history, how long the Indy 500 has been going on here, the competitiveness of that race for so many years, to me, and as a kid just growing up as a fan of the Indy 500 and looking at Al Unser and A.J. Foyt and Rick Mears, those guys as four-time winners, even when we came here for the Brickyard and I'd won a couple of Brickyard 400s, 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. 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. If you look at that, obviously Michael Schumacher's in a totally different field or comparison range. I mean, he's just set a bar that's going to be a lmost impossible for anybody else to match."
KYLE BUSCH (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet): (About the important of testing the new tire compound): "Well, they're going to bring another one back (that is) different than what we've got here today. Just to be able to get on the racetrack and get a feel for it again, try some different things we've learned over the past year and get a basis on the knowledge we've learned over the past year. The biggest thing is trying to accompany what the car wants with the racetrack and with what the tires are telling us, which isn't much, so hopefully they'll come back with something better. We hope it will be better when we get back here, that's for sure. We're kind of all over the board. We could never really find something that would handle well for us the whole time we've been here. We've been back and forth an awful lot."
KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge): (About how much the team could accomplish despite all the rain): "It was more of an abbreviated test. We really thrashed through some of our items we wanted to have done in more detail and eliminated some of the other things just so we could get it done in one day. We had a lot on our plate with two cars with the time we had today, but it was generous of the Speedway to open up early and to let us go later." (The No. 2 team has had some good history here, though it never made it to victory lane. Are you leaving the test with a good comfort level?): "It's (the No. 2 car) good definitely by itself in qualifying. That's where we feel very confident, but we still have to go make a lap. It could be a lot warmer when we get back, so we still have some more work to do when we come back, but I think now there's four hours of practice so there's plenty of time to do that." (Is it typical of a test to say at the end of the day, 'I wish we could have tried this or that?'): "Yep, that's definitely the case. But we think we've got a good base of notes to allow the engineers to go and look at different things and quiz me about and hopefully come back with a better Miller Lite Dodge."
BOBBY LABONTE (No. 43 Cheerios Dodge): (About the importance of getting in a second day of testing): "Weather-wise, I'm sure it will be a lot different when we get back here. But, it's real important to get laps in the racetrack." (You're a former winner so how does it help your new team?): "I don't know, I guess in a way, yes, but nowadays it's week-to-week. You could be good one week and not the next, so years to years is different. We've just got to go out there and do the best we can week in and week out."
KEN SCHRADER (No. 21 Little Debbie Ford): "We had a really good two-day test. We focused a lot on race setup, then made two qualifying runs at the end of the day today, so it's not like we dwelled much on qualifying. The car was good -- simple as that. We look forward to coming back."
CHAD KNAUS (Crew chief of the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet driven by Jimmie Johnson): (About how important even a brief test at IMS is for the team): "As far as preparation for the race, it's pretty important. A lot of guys were here Monday before the rain hit and got a full day's worth of testing in, and a couple other teams were able to come up here and take part in the Indy tire test, so they have quite a head start on us. Getting out on the track today is going to be pretty important just for us to be able to gather some data and be able to take it back to Hendrick Motorsports and go through the information and see how we can get it to apply here in August." (Conditions here in August likely will be sunny and hot, so does a cooler, cloudy and humid day like today still hold value?): "Yeah, it will give us what we need." (Last year's race here was a bad one for you guys, so what would it mean for you personally to do well here?): "It would be nice just to run halfway competitive. We've never run very well here, and it's always been kind of a sore thumb to us, to be honest."
KEVIN HARVICK (No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet): (About after getting a full day Monday, how important is today's abbreviated track time?): "Not very much. We felt like we got a good day in Monday. With all the rain it will take a couple hours to get all the rubber back on the racetrack, so we'll just run through a bunch of things we did Monday and just re-evaluate where we're at. But hopefully we can get the track rubbered in for this afternoon. That will be the most important part." (Come race weekend it will likely be hot and sunny, so will you guys have to come in with a whole different game place for that Friday's practice?): "I don't think so, everything we've been doing has seemed to work right off the bat, so just stick to our game plan and do the things that we've been doing and put ourselves in track position at the end of the race, with a chance to win. But, it's a long ways to get to that point and we'll just approach it like we have every week." (Only two guys are multi-time winners of this race, what would it mean to you to become the next two-time Allstate 400 at the Brickyard winner?): "This place is important to me. Growing up an open-wheel fan and wanting to win at Indy and being able to win once. Winning it twice would be really cool."
BRIAN VICKERS (No. 25 GMAC Chevrolet): "(Today) has been valuable, especially this afternoon. Took a little while for the rubber to get on the track, it's rained so much. Track was really green this morning, but this afternoon was a good test. These days, getting two days in is great, but one decent day or even a half a day is enough usually because you're going to run through a test matrix, try some stuff (and) get the data on it, then go back to the shop, go through all the telemetry you have and let the engineers do their job. They don't necessarily need two days of runs."
DAVID STREMME (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge): "Monday wasn't very great. (About) the fifth lap I got in the fence, tore the car up so Monday we weren't very good, but they repaired the car and did some work. Today's been a lot better. I felt a lot more comfortable on the track. It is cool to get to run here at Indianapolis." (How important was this test for you and the team?): "It was huge because my team's going through a lot of changes right now, but the other thing is I've never been here. So all the track time was better for us, and we feel we're pretty competitive right now. Obviously, the weather conditions were a little different today, with cloudy and overcast than probably when we race here, but it's still pretty hot and muggy and the track's losing a lot of grip."
TONY RAINES (No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet): (About how important today was after yesterday's washout): "Well, it was really important since we didn't get to get on the track yesterday. Mother Nature got us a little but there, but we got a good bit of information today, so we know what we're up against when we come back in August. We would have liked to had another whole day to test, but we had to squeeze it down. We learned a little bit -- and not much as we'd liked -- but we'll do our homework at the shop before we come up here, and hopefully we'll have a good qualifying package and a good race package." (You're from Indiana, so how important is this race to you, and did you dream about coming here as a kid?): "I did, and I told somebody the first time I got on the racetrack, it was a big deal. Indianapolis Motor Speedway and to be able to drive around here and this race means a lot to me. So do a lot of other races, but the fact this is one of the biggest races on the Cup circuit makes it that much more special. We'd love to have a good run here, and that would be icing on the cake."
SCOTT WIMMER (No. 4 AERO Exhaust Chevrolet): "It's going real good. With the rain this morning, we had a different agenda than anybody else. We're coming here outside the top 35 in points so we really got to concentrate on qualifying. Made a bunch of qualifying runs in one car; made a qualifying run in the other car so we're pretty happy with the way both cars are running. We'll look at some things, make a couple more runs, evaluate and bring the best car back." (Thoughts on the Speedway): "It's one of the greatest places we come to. Just coming through the tunnel here and going down that straightaway for the first time, no matter if there are fans here or not, it's pretty exciting. The track's fun to drive. It's kind of thrown us a little curve as far as setup. The car's aren't handling real well. But we're working on it, we're getting better, and hopefully when we come back in a few weeks we'll get it right." (No points are awarded today, but are you happy to see your name near the top of the speed chart?): "Yeah, it definitely is. We're racing a few guys; we're not racing the guys in the top 35. We're racing everybody outside of it, and we've been keeping an eye on them. And as long as we can stay in front of them and get a little out of the car at the shop and come back a little bit better, we'll solidly put ourselves in the race."
Tickets: Tickets are on sale for the 2006 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 6 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Fans can order tickets online at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com, by calling the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700 or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area, or at the ticket office at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Parking and camping information also can be obtained through the ticket office.
Hours for phone orders and the ticket office are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) Monday-Friday, while online orders can be made at any time.
Reserved seats start at just $35.
<pre> UNOFFICIAL SPEED REPORT, NASCAR NEXTEL CUP TESTING INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY, WEDNESDAY, JULY 12, 2006 (All drivers tested in one session due to morning rain)
Rank Car No. Driver Speed (mph) 1. 41 Reed Sorenson 181.892 2. 2A Kurt Busch 181.025 3. 4 Scott Wimmer 180.563 4. 21 Ken Schrader 180.115 5. 38A Elliott Sadler 180.040 6. 90 Stephen Leicht 179.817 7. 6 Mark Martin 179.376 8. 99B Carl Edwards 179.005 9. 9 Kasey Kahne 178.696 10. 78B Kenny Wallace 178.692 11. 04 Bobby Hamilton Jr. 178.550 12. 70B Johnny Sauter 178.483 13. 40X David Stremme 178.356 14. 31 Jeff Burton 178.232 15. 20B Tony Stewart 178.105 16. 15 Paul Menard 178.070 17. 60A Boris Said 178.070 18. 96 Tony Raines 177.771 19. 25B Brian Vickers 177.637 20. 29A Kevin Harvick 177.623 21. 17B Matt Kenseth 177.357 22. 88A Dale Jarrett 177.340 23. 16A Greg Biffle 177.288 24. 42X Casey Mears 177.155 25. 32A Travis Kvapil 177.106 26. 37 Carl Long 177.082 27. 07A Clint Bowyer 177.064 28. 5B Kyle Busch 176.977 29. 24 Jeff Gordon 176.852 30. 18B J.J. Yeley 176.651 31. 43 Bobby Labonte 176.640 32. 26B Jamie McMurray 176.301 33. 10B Scott Riggs 176.301 34. 48 Jimmie Johnson 176.205 35. 19B Jeremy Mayfield 175.895 36. 11B Denny Hamlin 175.833 37. 66B Jeff Green 175.812 38. 00B Bill Elliott 175.723 39. 12B Ryan Newman 175.135 40. 45 Kyle Petty 174.564 41. 47 Jon Wood 174.159 42. 72 Kertus Davis 173.947