Indianapolis Brickyard test report 2002-07-15

Nadeau stakes claim for full-time job with fastest lap. Stewart, B. Labonte take Chevrolets for test drive. INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, July 15, 2002 - Job-hunting Jerry Nadeau became the third driver to surpass the track record as the second round ...

Nadeau stakes claim for full-time job with fastest lap.
Stewart, B. Labonte take Chevrolets for test drive.

INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, July 15, 2002 - Job-hunting Jerry Nadeau became the third driver to surpass the track record as the second round of NASCAR Winston Cup Series testing for the Brickyard 400 resumed July 15 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Nadeau, filling in for the still-ailing Johnny Benson Jr., recorded a top lap of 181.324 mph in the Valvoline Pontiac. Last week in the initial round of pre-race preparation, Roush Racing's Kurt Busch led the speed chart with a speed of 181.777, and Todd Bodine was right behind at 181.577.

Brett Bodine set the track record of 181.072 during qualifying for the 2000 race.

Nadeau is searching for full-time ride after being released by the Hendrick Motorsports team.

Also topping 180 mph Monday were Jimmy Spencer at 180.352 and Matt Kenseth, also a Roush driver, at 180.133.

A total of 36 drivers in 54 different cars took to the track on a warm, sunny day. They turned 2,069 laps around the historic 2 1/2-mile oval, with Kevin Harvick, winner of Sunday's race at Chicagoland Speedway, completing 145. That's only 15 shy of a full race.

Despite the speeds, the major news of the day was the testing effort of the Joe Gibbs Racing team of drivers Tony Stewart and Bobby Labonte. Gibbs had them driving not only their regular Pontiac Grand Prix cars but also in some freshly prepared Chevrolet Monte Carlos. Team owner Gibbs is planning a switch to Chevrolet for next season but could make the change sometime this year.

"I just take it at a week at a time," said Stewart, who spent most of 27 hours Sunday and Monday in some kind of race car. "There's no guarantees we are going to be switching before the end of the year. We might be in a Grand Prix the rest of the year.

"We know we're not running the way we'd like to be running, and there's some areas where we have question marks. We needed to bring a Monte Carlo as well as a Grand Prix to try to decipher what's really going on in our program, the direction we need to work toward and just try to eliminate the variables as far as we think as to what's wrong with our program now."

Following Sunday's race, Stewart is fifth in the point standings, 157 behind leader Sterling Marlin. 2000 Winston Cup champion Labonte hangs in 21st place. In Monday's testing, each driver took the wheel of other's car. Stewart drives the Home Depot machine and Labonte the Interstate Batteries car.

For Stewart, the 5 p.m. shutdown of practice ended an incredible racing schedule that started at 1:55 p.m. Sunday with the start of the Chicago race. He drove all 268 laps there and finished third. Then he flew to Kokomo, Ind., and competed in a midget race and a supermodified race that also included his father, Nelson. It was followed by an autograph session for fans who had waited more than 18 hours for a chance to get Stewart's autograph.

Ward Burton, winner of the Daytona 500 in February, had the fourth-fastest speed Monday at 179.397 mph, and Ted Musgrave was fifth at 179.078.

Defending champion and three-time Brickyard winner Jeff Gordon was 12th on the speed chart in his DuPont Chevrolet with a fast lap of 177.299.

Roush Racing drivers have turned two of the top four speeds in the first three days of testing.

"To have four cars is really a good thing," team owner Jack Roush said. "Part of the difficulty of doing this is figuring out what to work on. When you've got four drivers, you don't get as lost. You don't go off on tangents.

"When you have a year like we did last year, it's pretty tough. This year we've had somebody in every race that was really awesome. We put the notes together on that and spread the wealth."

In addition to Busch and Kenseth, Roush's other drivers are Mark Martin and Jeff Burton.

Testing concludes Tuesday.

-ims-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Brett Bodine , Jeff Burton , Ward Burton , Jeff Gordon , Bobby Labonte , Tony Stewart , Todd Bodine , Jimmy Spencer , Kevin Harvick , Sterling Marlin , Jerry Nadeau , Kurt Busch , Johnny Benson , Ted Musgrave , Jack Roush , Mark Martin
Teams Hendrick Motorsports , Joe Gibbs Racing