IMS Brickyard test notes 2005-07-12

RIGGS FASTEST IN RAIN-SHORTENED TEST DAY AT INDIANAPOLIS INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, July 12, 2005 -- Scott Riggs and the MBV Motorsports team led testing on a rain-shortened day July 12 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a speed of 181.244 mph in...

RIGGS FASTEST IN RAIN-SHORTENED TEST DAY AT INDIANAPOLIS

INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, July 12, 2005 -- Scott Riggs and the MBV Motorsports team led testing on a rain-shortened day July 12 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a speed of 181.244 mph in the No. 10 Valvoline Chevrolet.

Riggs' top lap ranks him as seventh-fastest to date in 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series private testing at the 2.5-mile oval.

Greg Biffle remains the fastest of 2005 testing so far, thanks to the lap of 181.963 he posted July 10. The top five overall in 2005 testing at Indianapolis, which includes test days on July 5-6 and 11-12, are Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Ken Schrader, Robby Gordon and Elliott Sadler.

Riggs and his competitors are trying to get a handle on the combination of the newly repaved track surface at IMS and a new Goodyear tire compound, which will make finding the right setup difficult when teams return for the 12th Allstate 400 at the Brickyard on Aug. 7.

"I only have one race here under my belt, so I'm trying to deviate from what I learned during that first race and trying to figure out the difference in the track now and how it sort of changed and what direction it's changed," Riggs said. "It takes a little bit different setup. We're definitely working with our cars -- our cars are a lot different than last year. They've evolved into being a lot better cars, but also it takes a lot of different setup, too. I've learned a lot."

Ken Schrader was second-fastest of the day at 181.051 in the No. 49 Schwan's Home Service Dodge, and Jamie McMurray was third at 180.810 in the No. 42 Texaco Havoline Dodge.

Weather forecasts called for heavy rains July 12 in Indianapolis, thanks to the remnants of Hurricane Dennis, but the 14 teams that elected to stay in town were able to find some track time. Brief, intermittent showers tested the patience of drivers and teams until heavier midday rain showers finally ended testing.

"Every time we go out, we want to make five eight-lap runs, but we're making one or two-lap runs because it keeps raining, and we're not finding out what the car's going to do on a long run, which is what we want to find out the most," Casey Mears said. "At the same time, we're still learning stuff."

Even though no driver has yet to approach Mears' track record of 186.293 set in 2004 qualifying, Mears is confident that his record will be broken this year.

"I think a combination of more grip in the track and less drag overall is making the speeds faster," he said. "We're seeing 208 (mph), 209 at the end of the straightaways while last year was 201. You're probably about the same in the corner but less drag down the straightaways. We haven't even made a qualifying run yet (in testing). If somebody hits it right and the weather's right, I see that track record going down."

The third and final round of private testing before the 12th Allstate 400 at the Brickyard continues July 18-19, with former race winners Dale Jarrett and Bill Elliott, scheduled to test both days along with former USAC standout Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Four-time Allstate 400 at the Brickyard winner Jeff Gordon and Indiana native Tony Stewart will test July 19 only.

Fans are welcome to watch testing July 18-19 from the South Terrace grandstands, located in the infield between Turns 1 and 2. Admission is free.

QUOTES FROM SELECTED NEXTEL CUP DRIVERS AT IMS TEST, JULY 12:

DAVE BLANEY (No. 07 Jack Daniel's Chevrolet): "We've definitely learned some things and picked up some speed today definitely from yesterday. You can always learn more."

MIKE GARVEY (No. 66 Jani-King Ford): "It feels a lot better the more laps we get. We picked up more today then we thought we would. We have an old test so that's faster than we thought we would get going. We're pretty happy. We'll be in pretty good shape when we come back for the race. We're learning as we go. This is the first time I've ever been here, so if nothing else, it's been good just to get some laps. But we're learning and getting faster and faster. I guess the biggest surprise I have (about IMS) is how Turn 1 looks like a tunnel. All the fans aren't here but it doesn't really bother me like that. I read everything I could about it and went, 'Well, this is going to be really weird getting into Turn 1,' but it doesn't bother me that much."

TRAVIS KVAPIL (No. 77 Jasper Engines/Kodak Dodge): "We're gaining on it. We have a pretty good idea where we need to be with the setup of the race car. A lot of it is me just finding speed on the racetrack, just getting comfortable with the racetrack, looking at the data, using less brake and just trying to keep my roll speed up in the middle of the corners. That's where I've been able to find some time and speed. We're just going to keep working on that. They're patient with me, and we're slowly gaining on it and I've got my teammate, Rusty Wallace, here. We're working well together and sharing information. We've had a pretty good test so far."

BOBBY LABONTE (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet): "You learn the same thing over and over again in some instances, and you learn new stuff all the time, too. The biggest thing you do is get your car as slick as possible down the straightaway and as much downforce as you can in the corners. You try to achieve all that, and it's like a never-ending battle. You always try to figure out what to do next to make it better. You leave here last night, you have some ideas, you come back this morning and you apply them. Just trying to make the car as low as you can to the ground without hitting it but as tight when turning it as possible without getting too loose. That's all you have."

JASON LEFFLER (No. 11 FedEx Chevrolet): "You never learn enough here at Indianapolis. It's so temperamental of a racetrack. We ran really good yesterday when we ended. We started off this morning and lost about half a second. So, we've been trying to get that back. The conditions are actually a little better today so we should be running faster. The guys on the Fed Ex team are working hard. I'd like to stay here all week, hut unfortunately we only get two days here. We're just trying to take in as much information as we can.

KEVIN LEPAGE (No. 37 Patron Tequila Dodge): "We feel pretty good. This is the first time for us with this new configuration -- the new-style Charger body. It's the only one we've got finished so we couldn't afford to tear it up. We came here and did, probably two-thirds were qualifying runs, nothing extreme, and did a few long runs to see how the car would act and it stayed pretty consistent underneath me so I'm pretty happy with this test. We look forward to coming back at the end of the month." (You were pretty emotional when you made the Daytona 500; where does this race rank in terms of the importance of making the race?): "This is as big to us as Daytona was. We had a good run there, and we have Patron Tequila on for this race, and it's a big market for them. So this is a very important race for us, it's kind of the start of our second half."

JAMIE McMURRAY (No. 42 Texaco Havoline Dodge): "It hasn't went as well as I expected. This is one of my favorite racetracks; I love coming to Indy. We ran so well here in 2003 and had a shot to win, and actually we brought the exact same race car back. Obviously (we) changed the nose and tail to meet the new rules, but it's the same chassis as 2003. We just haven't hit on anything yet; it just seems like the car is very sensitive, and you change it just a little bit and it will kill a half-second of lap time. We just haven't found the speed or consistency that we need." (Bobby Labonte said he testing badly in 2000 then came back and won, so is a bad test a big deal to you?): "Yeah, because usually we test well, we race well, and when we test bad, it's not a very good weekend. But you never know. We have really struggled in practice and Happy Hours. We've raced well at times; you never know, it's a long race. It's a little cloudy now. We came here and tested last year and it was hot and sunny and everybody was complaining, but I think it's awesome because that's what we're going to come back and race in anyway." (What do you like about this track?): "It's a fun racetrack. You've got four corners so if you get your car handling well it's times four instead of times two. A lot of history at this racetrack, and you know, I've told everyone that of all the races to win, the Brickyard 400 would just about top my list." (You're running well in terms of the speed charts, so that doesn't give you a boost?): "I guess we ran one good lap (laughs). We never focus on running one fast lap, more on being consistent. And usually that's what we're good at is being good on long runs, but we haven't hit on it yet." (You grew up about eight hours from here, but did you pay much attention to what went on here?): "No, but Indy is one of my favorite cities to come to. We'd come here, for I guess four years, for the PRI trade show and you'd stay downtown at the Hyatt, you'd go eat at St. Elmo's, and Palomino's or Ruth's Chris, PF Chang 's, all those restaurants right there. It's just a really pretty downtown. Everything about this place is great -- it's a beautiful facility at the racetrack, and it's a cool downtown. To have both of those at the same place is nice."

CASEY MEARS (No. 41 Target Dodge): "Pretty good, other than the rain off and on, we're not able to get into a good rhythm in making changes, but the first half of yesterday we were really struggling, cars were tight. At lunch time we made some really big changes, went back to what we had last year and picked up a bunch of time, and now we're one of the faster cars out here this week. It feels good because this is the first time we've come to this Indy test and felt good about what we have. I think our cars have come a long way, body-wise, our engines are good and we're getting a handle on the chassis. Our team is starting to come together." (On speeds): "I think a combination of more grip in the track and less drag overall is making the speeds faster. We're seeing 208 (mph), 209 at the end of the straightaways while last year was 201. You're probably about the same in the corner but less drag down the straightaways." (On his track record): "I honestly don't think that time's going to hold up. It's a record for the old track, but for the new track it's probably going to be in the 47s (seconds). We haven't even made a qualifying run yet. If we did right now I'm sure we could get in the 48s, where we were, and I think the way things are now, if somebody hits it right and the weather's right, I see that track record going down." (Have the intermittent showers today tested your patience?): "Every time we go out, we want to make five eight-lap runs but we're making one or two-lap runs because it keeps raining, and we're not finding out what the car's going to do on a long run which is what we want to find out the most. At the same time, we're still learning stuff." (Given that you won last year's pole and are happy with this test, how has it changed your approach or attitude to IMS?): "I always like coming here, just because of everything's that gone on in the past with my uncle (Rick Mears) winning here, and sitting on the pole here last year, it's just a special place for us. If we can come back on sit on the pole a gain and especially have a good race car and a chance to win this race, it would be big."

KYLE PETTY (No. 45 Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge): "We've done everything we wanted to do. We ran through a bunch of shocks, ran through a bunch of springs, ran through a bunch of nose weight, ran through a couple of gears, the two combinations we can run. Did some engine stuff. Hopefully not only for us, but for Evernham. Some carburetor stuff. That's basically it. We came up here with one car to go through a bunch of parts and pieces so when the #43 car comes back, hopefully they'll be better next week and we can eliminate some of the stuff that doesn't work this week. We can find some stuff that does work, and they can maybe expand on it better so when they come back to the shop and we can go through all our data, then we'll have a good setup to come back to race with."

SCOTT RIGGS (No. 10 Valvoline Chevrolet): "I think we've got a pretty good handle on it. We definitely have a little bit different combination than we had before here. With the new different tire we're running now and with the new track surface, I think it just promotes a little bit different line, a little bit different characteristics. I only have one race here under my belt, so I'm trying to deviate from what I learned during that first race and trying to figure out the difference in the track now and how it sort of changed and what direction it's changed. It takes a little bit different setup. We're definitely working with our cars. Our cars are a lot different than last year. They've evolved into being a lot better cars but also it takes a lot of different setup, too. I've learned a lot. Hopefully we'll get a little more time in but I feel pretty good about coming back here for the race."

BORIS SAID (No. 36 CENTRIX Financial Chevrolet): "It's a tough place. It's fast. It's so easy to make a mistake in one corner, and you pay really for it. We've made a lot of progress and the car's running good. I think I'm pretty close to enough speed to make the race. It's hard to tell till everyone's here but that's my No. 1 goal is just to get in the race and try to run the whole thing." (About the IMS oval): "I kind of like it because it seems a little bit like a road course, but it's really fast. I can't believe an IndyCar goes around here wide open. That's pretty amazing. But it's great. It's a good stock-car track."

KEN SCHRADER (No. 49 Schwan's Home Service Dodge): "We brought a new car so obviously we spent some time just shaking it down. And we've been working on just race setup. Basically, aero stuff is what we've been working on the second day. Changing some fenders and stuff. You just run so fast down the straightaway that it's really crucial. (The track) is just smooth with a lot of grip. They did a good job on it, for sure."

RUSTY WALLACE (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge, on if it was worth it to stay over and test today): "Yeah, I think so. It's a big race and we're trying to get prepared as much as we can. One thing it has done for me is to rule out a couple of things I was thinking, gave me some more confidence. We'll have to do a couple things differently when we get home. I wouldn't doubt that we'll bring a different car back. We've run two cars and I like some things about one and there's things I don't like about the other, and I've got a couple really nice cars at home that I might bring back. We worked real hard on our shock-and-spring setup and balance, and that's basically what everybody does. I wish I were a little quicker, but I think that once we bring the better engine back it'll pep up."

***

Tickets: To purchase tickets, camping or parking for the 12th Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, contact the IMS ticket office at (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area, (317) 492-6700 locally or log on to www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com.

<pre> UNOFFICIAL SPEED REPORT, NASCAR NEXTEL CUP TESTING INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY, TUESDAY, JULY 12, 2005

Rank    Car No. Driver          Speed (mph)     Total Laps
1.      10      Scott Riggs     181.244         41
2.      49      Ken Schrader    181.051         21
3.      42      Jamie McMurray  180.810         44
4.      36      Boris Said      180.703         25
5.      29      Kevin Harvick   180.682         25
6.      41      Casey Mears     180.638         32
7.      18      Bobby Labonte   180.266         53
8.      07      Dave Blaney     179.614         29
9.      37      Kevin Lepage    179.605         18
10.     45      Kyle Petty      179.431         49
11.     11      Jason Leffler   178.813         42
12.      2      Rusty Wallace   178.694         27
13.     66      Mike Garvey     178.646         11
14.     77      Travis Kvapil   178.135         43

TESTING RECAP: UNOFFICIAL SPEED REPORT, NASCAR NEXTEL CUP TESTING INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY, JULY 5-6, 11-12, 2005

Rank    Car No. Driver          Speed (mph)     Total Laps      Date
1.      16      Greg Biffle     181.963         112             July 11
2.      17      Matt Kenseth    181.742         90              July 11
3.      49      Ken Schrader    181.727         68              July 11
4.       7      Robby Gordon    181.722         45              July 11
5.      38      Elliott Sadler  181.495         79              July 11
6.      41      Casey Mears     181.296         122             July 11
7.      10      Scott Riggs     181.244         116             July 12
8.      42      Jamie McMurray  180.810         161             July 12
9.      01      Joe Nemechek    180.751         133             July 11
10.     36      Boris Said      180.703         162             July 12
11.     29      Kevin Harvick   180.682         87              July 12
12.     31      Jeff Burton     180.402         84              July 11
13.     11      Jason Leffler   180.270         168             July 11
14.     18      Bobby Labonte   180.266         162             July 12
15.     15      Michael Waltrip 180.260         95              July 11
16.     97      Kurt Busch      180.208         139             July 6
17.     37      Kevin Lepage    179.725         45              July 11
18.     19      Jeremy Mayfield 179.661         134             July 11
19.      2      Rusty Wallace   179.633         76              July 11
20.     07      Dave Blaney     179.614         90              July 12
21.     77      Travis Kvapil   179.525         135             July 11
22.     45      Kyle Petty      179.431         147             July 12
23.     99      Carl Edwards    179.165          49             July 5
24.     21      Ricky Rudd      178.999         164             July 6
25.     50      Jimmy Spencer   178.839          21             July 5
26.     66      Mike Garvey     178.646          53             July 12
27.      4      Mike Wallace    177.110          84             July 11

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Burton , Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Bobby Labonte , Jeremy Mayfield , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Michael Waltrip , Jason Leffler , Kyle Petty , Ken Schrader , Boris Said , Jimmy Spencer , Kevin Harvick , Joe Nemechek , Greg Biffle , Kevin Lepage , Robby Gordon , Mike Wallace , Kurt Busch , Casey Mears , Jamie McMurray , Scott Riggs , Kasey Kahne , Carl Edwards , Elliott Sadler , Dave Blaney , Mike Garvey , Travis Kvapil