SKINNER FASTEST IN FIFTH DAY OF NEXTEL CUP TESTING AT IMS INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, July 18, 2005 -- Mike Skinner put his No. 23 History Channel AutoManiac Dodge atop the speed charts in private NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series testing July 18 at...
SKINNER FASTEST IN FIFTH DAY OF NEXTEL CUP TESTING AT IMS
INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, July 18, 2005 -- Mike Skinner put his No. 23 History Channel AutoManiac Dodge atop the speed charts in private NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series testing July 18 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a lap of 180.692 mph.
Bobby Hamilton Jr. was second fastest in the No. 32 Tide Chevrolet at 179.565, and Martin Truex Jr. was third in the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Chevrolet at 179.460.
This is the third consecutive, and final, week of testing at Indianapolis in preparation for the 12th annual Allstate 400 at the Brickyard on Aug. 7.
Skinner had the two fastest cars of the session, as his No. 23B backup car was fastest, and he drove his primary No. 23 car to a slightly faster lap than Hamilton's speed, at 179.653.
Skinner, who has three top-10 starts in six appearances at the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, said he was pleased with the performance of his Bill Davis Racing entry and of the asphalt surface that was applied to the 2.5-mile oval in fall 2004.
"I think the racetrack is awesome, as usual," he said. "This place is probably the best-maintained racetrack on the circuit. Our AutoManiac/History Channel car is running pretty good. We're in qualifying mode, about three-quarter qualifying mode, because we're a 'go' or 'no go' car. Right now I like our chances."
Dale Earnhardt, Inc. driver Truex, who will attempt to make his first Allstate 400 at the Brickyard start, gave himself a good grade for his first day at the Speedway.
"We're just working on our car real hard to get it balanced and get me comfortable," 2004 NASCAR Busch Series champion Truex said. "We made a qualifying run there at the end. We got the car going pretty good. It's pretty comfortable; we just need to find some more speed out of it. We've got all day tomorrow to do that."
Truex's teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. did not practice in the morning but turned 27 laps in the afternoon, turning a fast lap of 176.470 in the No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet. Earnhardt said the team plans to complete a full day of testing on July 19, the final day of pre-Allstate 400 at the Brickyard private testing.
The drivers who tested today are scheduled to be joined by four-time race winner Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart, a resident of Columbus, Ind., and winner of three of the last four NEXTEL Cup Series events.
Fans are welcome to watch testing July 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 18:
DALE EARNHARDT JR. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet): (Why didn't you test this morning?): "Just trying to get some sleep. We weren't ready to practice. We didn't have our shocks and stuff so -- I just ran a 300-lap race yesterday in New Hampshire and just wanted to get a little rest." (How did the car run this afternoon?): "Real tight. The track's got so much grip, you can't really get the car to turn now. It's real fast and (the new pavement) gave it a lot of grip, and it's real hard to get the cars to turn. It may be pretty hard to pass, I think." (You running a full day tomorrow?): "Yeah."
MARTIN TRUEX JR. (No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Chevrolet): (About test): "Pretty good. We're just working on our car real hard to get it balanced and get me comfortable. I've had to learn the track; obviously it's the first time I've been here. Overall, pretty satisfied. We made a qualifying run there at the end, and I'm sure that's why I'm fourth (third). I'm sure we weren't fourth-fastest in race trim. We got the car going pretty good, it's pretty comfortable, we just need to find some more speed out of it. We've got all day tomorrow to do that." (First day at a track where so much has happened over 96 years; how do you grade yourself for your first laps?): "I did OK. Your car is the thing that separates you from the fastest guys, but I feel like we did a good job and made big gains all day. It's really cool to come here; a really neat place with a lot of history and just thinking of all the races that have happened over the years. To be riding around on the same track as a lot of the best drivers in the world over the past 90-some years is a pretty neat feeling."
BILL ELLIOTT (No. 91 Stanley Tools Dodge): "It's been a good racetrack for me; I've enjoyed racing here over the years. Somebody asked me about the place, and I said between Daytona and Indy, that's what everybody knows. Anybody that's not really a race fan knows these two places, and it's good to come back here and try to run well here. We're just trying to get everything sorted out. We've had kind of an up-and-down few races that I have run to this point, and we need to run well here." (Thoughts on the new racing surface?): "It's nice, they did a good job. It's always been smooth here. It's always been a racetrack that -- a lot of place we go to throughout the years -- this has always been the smoothest of what we've been to, and they've done a real nice job resurfacing it. I don't see a lot of real difference in it. The track has a lot of similarities to what it's been the last few years, and hopefully we can work around what we've done in past and get this new aero package where we need it to be."
DALE JARRETT (No. 88 UPS Ford, on the test thus far): "It's going well. Spent a little time this morning chasing the track as we started to get some rubber back down on it. I understand there was a lot of rain here over the weekend, (and) I wasn't anticipating the racetrack to be quite as loose as it was at the beginning for me, and as we tightened up, we got some rubber down and we had to unwind things." (For you this must be an important test because you're right there in the NEXTEL Cup points): "It's important whether I was there (in points) or not, it's an important race to me, being a former winner I understand everything that goes along with winning this race, and I just love to compete here. The couple of times I haven't had a very good car here, it's just been a miserable week because you come here wanting to run well. Last year was a lot of fun even though we didn't win, and other years where maybe we didn't have competitive cars and didn't win, it was still a lot of fun to race. So, I put this race very high on my calendar, so yes, it's important for us because we're around that top 10 (in points) but it's more important because I want to get back to Victory Lane here." (Is it tough after a grueling race to come here and be up for testing on a Monday?): "It might be tough if it were somewhere else. It's not quite as hard here, not for me anyway because I love this place and love to race here. I know that I want to spend two days getting the most out of this test that I can here. It might be more difficult going somewhere else, but not here. I was up early this morning and ready to go. I was excited when we put this date on the calendar. It's still exciting for me to come here and race."
STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge): "They changed the tires this year, and we have a different spoiler combination and the body's a little different on this Dodge. You try to get your car riding as low as you can without coil binding and get it driving good for the race. It always seems here that you can be good pretty good in practice and start the race and the car is either real tight or real loose. So we're going to work on a lot of race stuff to be good in the race."
JEFF GREEN (No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge): "Kyle (Petty) tried a lot of stuff (last week) and a lot of stuff didn't work, so we knew not to bring it back. We have some more stuff to go through for them, too. So just trying all that stuff. The main priority is to get our Cheerios Dodge driving as good as we can. It's a new racetrack for us. It's the same Indianapolis Speedway, but it's a different racetrack with the new pavement, and the corners are a little bit different with the curbing. So I'm just getting used to the racetrack again and trying to get our car as fast as we can and driving as good as we can."
TERRY LABONTE (No. 44 Kellogg's Chevrolet): "The track's a little bit different than it was a year ago. Of course, the rules are a little bit different than they were a year ago, so we just have to try to get the car handling as good as we can. It's awful hard to pass up here, and if you can do that and get your car where it's pretty good, you can pass people. We're just working on our setup. It will (change) a little bit (from previous years). We were looking at our notes from last year just the other day and usually when you come back for the race, it's a little bit different than you've tested. The track is a little bit temperature-sensitive, so the weather will have a little effect. Sometimes you come up here and test, you just kind of chase the racetrack. We've got some things to try to see if we can get our cars a little bit better."
BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 04 Bobby Hamilton Racing Dodge): "It's the first year that the spoilers have been cut down like they have. It's the first year since the surface has been changed. Goodyear's working on the tires. You have more motor, and you get to trying different aero things. This is probably one of the most, if not the most aero-efficient racetrack we go to. So, the least little thing makes a huge difference here. It's a huge race. It's as big as Daytona to us, and it's one we spend a lot of time with."
KYLE BUSCH (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet): (About first time driving at Indy): "It's a tremendous facility. I really enjoyed it. I always watched the races on TV for years. To finally get out there and make our first laps was exciting on its own, but also you have to put that aside a little bit and get down to business on what you need to do. And we've been learning a lot, just about how to get around this place and what exactly the line I need to run and set up for."
TONY RAINES (No. 192 Front Row Motorsports Chevrolet): "It definitely is a special place. It's a historic racetrack. I've run the Brickyard 400 two years in a row, and I'd like to make it three, but we're struggling a little bit in the test. We're real tight and we got the right side of the car flattened a little bit, but we'll work on it and hopefully get some more testing in tomorrow and see if we can get it fast enough to make the race. I don't know. We're going to find out here. We'll know at the end of this two-day test."
STUART KIRBY (No. 51 Marathon Oil Chevrolet): "It's going to take a lot to make the show. The test is going really good. We're struggling a little bit getting off the turn. We can get in (the turns) real good but our car is real, real tight off of every corner, so it really hurting our momentum down the straightaway, especially these long straightaways, how this track is set up. We'll get it. We found some stuff we think is wrong. We're going to fix that, and hopefully we'll get up to speed a little bit better and have a lot better time."
MIKE SKINNER (No. 23 History Channel AutoManiac Dodge): "I think the racetrack is awesome, as usual. This place is probably the best-maintained racetrack on the circuit. Our AutoManiac/History Channel car is running pretty good. We're in qualifying mode, about three-quarter qualifying mode, because we're a 'go' or 'no go' car. Right now I like our chances."
SCOTT WIMMER (No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge): "We're running through some things. We haven't found a lot of speed yet. We've got our teammate here this week, Mike Skinner, so he's working on some of the speed stuff and we're working on a little bit of the handling stuff, stuff we'll feel on the race cars. All-in-all, I think we're having a pretty good test. Like I said, we need to find a bit more speed, but we're getting the cars to drive a little bit better, too."
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge): "The test is going good so far. It seems like we've learned a few things. We're just trying to change different aero packages, aero balances. I think we've come up with some good stuff so far. Racing here at the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard will be another great race. I'm really excited for that. The Indy 500 is always exciting to watch, something I've always grown up watching."
BRIAN VICKERS (No. 25 ditech.com/GMAC Chevrolet): "We're throwing some crazy ideas at it, and we'll go after the speed later. This track means so much to everybody and has so much history, and everybody wants to run good here. You're testing for this racetrack. But I think there's so many things that happen at this track that you can apply to other racetracks. It's still a fast, flat racetrack. So there's no doubt you can take a lot of information here and take it elsewhere--.same as anywhere else, too. In the scheme of things, if you look at the championship, it's no more or less important than the race before it or the race after it. But when you ask any driver out here, ask any fan, ask anybody in the garage, it's one of the most important races. I mean, it's personal. It's very gratifying. It's one of the toughest races to win. It's very challenging. It's very historic. If I could win anywhere, this and maybe the Daytona 500 would be it." (About advice from teammate Jeff Gordon): "Yeah, he definitely has (talked to me). This track means a lot to him. He grew up not too far from here. I think every true racer holds this racetrack with special meaning, and he's one of them."
BOBBY HAMILTON JR. (No. 32 Tide Chevrolet): (About first laps at Indy): "It's fun. It's fast. It's a little smaller than I thought as far as the width of it. It's amazing how those guys get three-wide around here. It seems bigger on TV, but it's definitely fast, great grip, really smooth, fun place. I'm looking forward to coming back. We're spending this whole day getting used to the track and then tomorrow come in here and really get fast. We picked right up this morning. Our first lap was a 51.77 (seconds). I think it kind of fits me a little bit as far as the way you drive the corners. You can back off a little bit early and pick up the gas so much quicker and get more speed down the straightaway. Little odds and ends that help. I figured it was going to be just torture coming here, but it's pretty fun." (About his father giving him advice): "We went out this morning in a vehicle, and he showed me some ideas. It's amazing how smooth it is. People say it's as smooth as ice, and it really is. Really cool, really, really fast, you can jerk on the wheel and pound on the gas and the car never moves and just sticks. When you get that kind of grip and that kind of speed, race time should be pretty cool."
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 18, 2005
Rank Car# Driver Speed (mph) Total Laps 1. 23 Mike Skinner 180.692 57 2. 32 Bobby Hamilton Jr. 179.565 40 3. 1 Martin Truex Jr. 179.460 90 4. 5 Kyle Busch 178.874 59 5. 04 Bobby Hamilton 178.690 25 6. 6 Mark Martin 178.580 137 7. 9 Kasey Kahne 178.537 113 8. 40 Sterling Marlin 178.495 76 9. 44 Terry Labonte 178.341 53 10. 91 Bill Elliott 178.304 76 11. 43 Jeff Green 178.054 51 12. 88 Dale Jarrett 177.703 101 13. 51 Stuart Kirby 177.527 59 14. 25 Brian Vickers 177.384 65 15. 22 Scott Wimmer 176.918 75 16. 8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 176.470 27 17. 92 Tony Raines 174.518 30