IMS Brickyard test notes 2005-07-19

HAMILTON FAMILY 1-2 IN FINAL DAY OF NASCAR TESTING AT INDY INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, July 19, 2005 -- It was a family affair atop the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series testing speed charts July 19 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as the father-son tandem...

HAMILTON FAMILY 1-2 IN FINAL DAY OF NASCAR TESTING AT INDY

INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, July 19, 2005 -- It was a family affair atop the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series testing speed charts July 19 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as the father-son tandem of Bobby Hamilton and Bobby Hamilton Jr. posted the top laps, respectively.

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series regular Bobby Hamilton topped the NEXTEL Cup Series regulars on the final day of testing for the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard on Aug. 7 with a lap of 183.905 mph in the No. 04 Bobby Hamilton Racing Dodge. It was the fastest lap overall over six days of testing the last three weeks at the historic 2.5-mile oval.

Bobby Hamilton Jr. was second fastest today at 182.576 in the No. 32 Tide Chevrolet, which he drives full time in the NEXTEL Cup Series.

"We were actually up doing some chassis stuff for my truck and ended up running good," Bobby Hamilton said. "Obviously, if everything goes right we've got time to paint the car and all. It's an in-house car. We built it ourselves; we bought the chassis from PPI (Motorsports) and then put on our front and rear clips."

Hamilton knows it will be tough to make the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard field despite posting the fastest lap of the month.

"We have a very good truck organization, but I'm smart enough to know that experience is what counts, and running a Cup team week in and week out is huge," he said. "We know we're against all odds coming here. We'll try to come up here and have a good time. We'd like to run good but we don't want to get in the way of the guys running for the Chase. But we buy our pit passes just like they do."

2002 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard winner Bill Elliott, now on a limited NEXTEL Cup Series schedule, was third at 182.562 in the No. 91 Stanley Tools Dodge while Kyle Busch was fourth at 182.450 in the No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet.

The top four today were faster than the previous fastest lap of the month, 181.963, by Greg Biffle on July 11.

Indiana native Tony Stewart, winner of three of the last four NEXTEL Cup Series races, tested today with a top lap of 178.385 in the No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet, good for 15th overall.

Four-time race winner Jeff Gordon also tested, as he continues his fight to earn a spot in the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup, as he is 120 points out of the top 10 in points. With only seven races remaining before the Chase begins, a successful race at Indianapolis would do much more than just bolster the team's position in the points.

"Everywhere we've tested this year, we've run well, (and) winning a big race like this definitely can help the morale of the team and build some momentum," Gordon said. "Right now we're looking at a stretch of races coming up that we have to run well to get in the top 10, and Indianapolis is one. It's an important race for us already, but it's one that we'd love to win."

Gordon has a shot at making history at the 2005 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard by becoming the first five-time winner of a major motorsports event at Indianapolis. While he wants a piece of history, Gordon said a fifth victory versus the four of Indianapolis 500 winners A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears, and four-time United States Grand Prix winner Michael Schumacher, cannot be compared.

"Last year we were inspired," Gordon said. "To get number four was a great moment for me and this team. If the media wants to keep pumping it up, that's fine. For me, growing up as a kid and watching the Indy 500, I recognize that there's a difference between the two races. It's not that I wouldn't want to be compared to A.J. (Foyt), (Al) Unser and (Rick) Mears; it's just a different race and different circumstances."

Allstate 400 at the Brickyard activities get underway at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday, Aug. 5. with Chevy Day at the Brickyard, a family-friendly event sponsored by Chevrolet, from 9 a.m.-noon (local time) in the east lot of the Speedway's Hall of Fame Museum in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway infield.

Admission is included in the price of admission to the IMS grounds for the day's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard activities, which is $10 per person and free for children ages 5 and younger. Activities will include appearances by Chevrolet-sponsored NASCAR drivers, interactive games, racing simulators, NASCAR race cars and live music.

The first two rounds of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup practice take place at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. (local time) Aug. 5.

Qualifying is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 6, followed by additional practices at 2:15 and 3:45 p.m. The 12th running of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 7.

***

QUOTES FROM SELECTED NEXTEL CUP DRIVERS AT IMS TEST, JULY 18:

TONY STEWART (No. 20 The Home Depot Chevrolet): "It's still a racetrack. (The) grinded track is done the right way. And that's Tony George's m.o.: When he does something, he does it the right way here. It's phenomenal, there's hardly a bump on the track right now. Makes it really fun for us as drivers, and as teams it makes it a little easier. The grip's higher, but at the end of the day you still push the car as hard as you can and go as fast as the setup will let it go." (How would you describe your season in recent weeks?): "The last five weeks have just been phenomenal for us. I keep thinking I'm in a dream, and it's going to not happen. The good thing is it is happening and it's happening at the right time for us, and the timing couldn't be better in terms of coming here in a couple of weeks." (Assuming you keep on this streak, will your confidence be as high coming here as it has been in a long time?): "Yeah, if we were going a little better in practice right now I'd say the confidence is real high, but we've got to keep doing what we're doing. The thing about this series, you can be on top one minute and be on the bottom the next week." (Testing this track, have you thought about testing the fence?): "Let's just worry about getting to the checkered flag, then we'll worry about testing the fence. Good thought, though. We've got to get through phase one before we get to phase two. If I bust my butt at that point, who cares, at least I have the trophy." (How would you describe your stats here in a stock car?): "Not near as impressive as I'd like it to be. Obviously, we've learned how to lead laps here; we can lead the first half, we just can't lead the last half of the race like we've been doing the last five weeks. We start a race strong, we can finish a race strong, so it's a matter of finding the right package to do that here also." (Are you as confident coming here, thanks to this streak, as you've ever been?): "It's the hottest five-week streak I've been on. Like I said, it can all change this week at P ocono, we could run 30th here when we come back and be scratching our heads wondering what happened. This series is tough. If it were that easy we wouldn't even came testing. We'd just say, 'Hey, we're where we need to be,' and would have taken a couple days off. That's why we're out here sweating our guts out today trying to figure out how to go fast."

DALE EARNHARDT JR. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet): "We were back and forth, and the car would be great one run, (bad) the next. It's got a lot of grip, but it's hard to get the front end to stop pushing. Real tight, but we'll figure it out."

MARK MARTIN (No. 6 Viagra Ford): (About track): "It may have a little bit more grip, but it was fine the way it was for us guys. We didn't feel any bumps out there before, so it's just smoother now than ever." (How is your test going and what are you looking for?): "We're just looking for the competitive edge." (What more can you learn after running here so many times?): "We're about full up, right now, so we're going to do a little baseline qualifying stuff and then pack it in." (Do you like this track?): "This is not my favorite track, but we've learned to put on a good show here, so it's OK, but I run a lot of laps because we're working real hard. When I go to test, I don't go to mess around. We're on the racetrack at 9 a.m. when it opens, and we run more laps then anybody ever does, so that's why we go test. Otherwise we'd stay home. We feel pretty good about our stuff and our car." (Is there a chance you could stay in the No. 6 car next year?): "Only if Jamie McMurray doesn't become available, in the 6 car. I have pretty much made the commitment to Jack (Roush) that I would drive the car until Jamie took over. And hopefully that will be in 2006." (You lived in Indiana back in your American Speed Association driving days?): "Yes, North Liberty." (Does Indiana hold any special place to come back to?): "I never see anything but this racetrack (Indianapolis), it never crosses my mind. But if I came up here on my own time, I certainly would, but I don't ever get a chance to do anything or go anywhere that reminds of what I used to do. This is all-consuming, what we do at this point, but someday, certainly. The best times of my life were in the ASA days, for sure. Life was a lot more simple, and racing was a lot more pure."

JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet): "Pretty good test. We're real happy with things, have a great car to come back here with. We did the Goodyear tire test (in April), so we just wanted to come back and get one more day in, especially with the heat today and having a couple races run on the track since we were here. It changes the conditions, so we're pretty happy." (Did the surface change much from the Goodyear test?): "Definitely a little bit slower, lost some grip, which is what we expected to happen. It was fresh pavement, really cool conditions, (and) the track was extremely fast." (Some guys have said the track's more grippy and there could be more side-by-side racing. Your take on that?): "I hope so. With the way the track is ground, it's got a lot of grip. We'll see some tire wear there and push the groove out, so hopefully you'll see more side-by-side racing. For us, we need to pavement to continue to wear out and age. Tony George likes it to be nice and fresh and new, (and) any time we come to a track that has fresh pavement like that, it's not going to widen out as much over time." (Are you looking forward to this race in a different way since you could become a five-time winner?): "Last year we were inspired. To get number four was a great moment for me and this team. If the media wants to keep pumping it up, that's fine. For me, growing up as a kid and watching the Indy 500, I recognize that there's a different between the two races. It's not that I wouldn't want to be compared to A.J. (Foyt), (Al) Unser and (Rick) Mears, it's just a different race and different circumstances." (With your tough luck in the last few weeks, does this race play any different this year, given the championship implications each race now has?): "No, because every track we've been to pretty much, we've run well and had success, and this track has been good to us. Everywhere we've tested this year, we've run well. Winning a big race like this definitely can help the morale of the team and build some momentum. Right now w e're looking at a stretch of races coming up that we have to run well to get in the top 10, and Indianapolis is one. It's an important race for us already, but it's one that we'd love to win."

BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 04 Bobby Hamilton Racing Dodge): "We were actually up doing some chassis stuff for my truck and ended up running good. Obviously, if everything goes right we've got time to paint the car and all. It's an in-house car. We built it ourselves; we bought the chassis from PPI (Motorsports) and then put on our front and rear clips. We tried some old truck stuff on it, and it seems to be drive good. We need to make sure the templates fit. We're pretty sure about all that (and) we'll see if NASCAR can check it before we come back. We just worked with PPI and us, and they ran good today too. It's a joint venture between us." (How does the new surface feel?): "Man, this place is always the top of the notch. I remember coming here in '95 or '96, and any flaw in this place, they fix it. You can't ask for any better. Bobby (Hamilton) Jr. had never been here before this test, and when we pulled in he said, 'Man, this is a nice-looking place.' It's hard to believe when it was built, as old as it is." (What would it mean to you to run well here?): "We have a very good truck organization, but I'm smart enough to know that experience is what counts, and running a Cup team week in and week out is huge. We know we're against all odds coming here. My guys are just doing it for a lot of fun. It's actually Bobby Jr. wife's car, so she thought she'd like to try it. We'll try to come up here and have a good time. We'd like to run good, but we don't want to get in the way of the guys running for the Chase. But, we buy our pit passes just like they do."

***

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 19, 2005

Rank Car# Driver                Speed (mph)     Total Laps
1.   04   Bobby Hamilton        183.905         53
2.   32   Bobby Hamilton Jr.    182.576         33
3.   91   Bill Elliott          182.562         60
4.    5   Kyle Busch            182.450         73
5.    1   Martin Truex Jr.      181.668         73
6.    8   Dale Earnhardt Jr.    181.494         67
7.    6   Mark Martin           180.760         78
8.   23   Mike Skinner          180.396         30
9.   24   Jeff Gordon           180.303         65
10.  40   Sterling Marlin       180.083         84
11.   9   Kasey Kahne           179.601         107
12.  51   Stuart Kirby          179.293         15
13.  43   Jeff Green            179.225         33
14.  44   Terry Labonte         178.683         61
15.  20   Tony Stewart          178.385         82
16.  88   Dale Jarrett          178.177         101
17.  92   Tony Raines           178.115         18
18.  25   Brian Vickers         177.502         90

***

UNOFFICIAL SPEED REPORT, NASCAR NEXTEL CUP TESTING INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY, JULY 18-19, 2005

Rank Car# Driver                Speed (mph)     Total Laps
1.   04   Bobby Hamilton        183.905         78
2.   32   Bobby Hamilton Jr.    182.576         73
3.   91   Bill Elliott          182.562         136
4.    5   Kyle Busch            182.450         132
5.    1   Martin Truex Jr.      181.668         163
6.    8   Dale Earnhardt Jr.    181.494         94
7.    6   Mark Martin           180.760         215
8.   23   Mike Skinner          180.692         87
9.   24   Jeff Gordon           180.303         65
10.  40   Sterling Marlin       180.083         160
11.   9   Kasey Kahne           179.601         220
12.  51   Stuart Kirby          179.293         74
13.  43   Jeff Green            179.225         84
14.  44   Terry Labonte         178.683         114
15.  20   Tony Stewart          178.385         82
16.  88   Dale Jarrett          178.177         202
17.  92   Tony Raines           178.115         48
18.  25   Brian Vickers         177.502         155
19.  22   Scott Wimmer          176.918         75

-ims-

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Bobby Hamilton , Dale Jarrett , Terry Labonte , Tony Stewart , Mike Skinner , Michael Schumacher , Greg Biffle , Jeff Green , Sterling Marlin , Bobby Hamilton Jr. , Tony Raines , Jamie McMurray , Stuart Kirby , Al Unser Sr. , Rick Mears , Kasey Kahne , Scott Wimmer , Martin Truex Jr. , Brian Vickers , Tony George , A.J. Foyt , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin