Indianapolis Brickyard test report 2002-07-16

INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, July 16, 2002 - Matt Kenseth turned the fastest unofficial stock-car lap in Indianapolis Motor Speedway history - 181.956 mph - on July 16, the final day of NASCAR Winston Cup Series testing for the Brickyard 400. Kenseth,...

INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, July 16, 2002 - Matt Kenseth turned the fastest unofficial stock-car lap in Indianapolis Motor Speedway history - 181.956 mph - on July 16, the final day of NASCAR Winston Cup Series testing for the Brickyard 400.

Kenseth, who drives the Roush Racing No. 17 DeWalt/AT&T Broadband Ford, Rusty Wallace, driver of the Penske Racing No. 2 Miller Lite Ford, and Jimmy Spencer, driver of the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 41 Target Dodge, became the fourth, fifth and sixth drivers, respectively, to exceed the official track record of 181.072 mph set by Brett Bodine while qualifying for the 2000 race.

With the 5 p.m. end to the testing approaching, Wallace dashed off a lap of 181.127. Spencer, who won the pole last year with a lap at 179.666 mph, recorded a top speed of 181.113.

The ninth annual Brickyard 400 is Sunday, Aug. 4.

Indiana native Ryan Newman, at the wheel of the No. 02 Penske Racing ALLTEL Ford, made a late-afternoon run that tied Bodine's record to the third decimal point.

Last week, Kurt Busch, Kenseth's teammate, clocked a fast lap of 181.777, and Todd Bodine checked in with 181.577 lap. On the first day of the second round of testing Monday, Jerry Nadeau led the way with a speed of 181.324.

Kenseth turned the day's best speed only 32 minutes after testing began Tuesday at 9:32 a.m. Spencer clipped off his run an hour later.

"We're going to qualify somewhere in the morning (10:05 a.m. start on Aug. 3) so when we worked on our qualifying we tried to work on it in the morning," Kenseth said.

"Yeah, it was good. "It was the best all day, and I'm pretty happy with that. It's about the fastest of what they tested (last week), so I think that will be pretty competitive."

It also hints that the pole sitter may top 182 mph. That would be a 10-mph jump over the pole winning speed of 172.414 mph by Rick Mast for the inaugural race in 1994. A record was set each year until last August.

Roush Racing has four teams and drivers. In addition to Kenseth and Busch, the team fields cars for veterans Mark Martin and Jeff Burton. Kenseth said his team benefited from the information Busch's No. 97 car gathered at last week's session.

"Quite a bit," Kenseth said. "We learned a lot from the 97 testing here. They ran real good when they tested here. We took a lot of what they learned and tried that. It helps our car, too."

Kenseth has won at North Carolina Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway and Michigan International Speedway this season, and his three wins are most by any Winston Cup driver although he ranks 10th in the point standings. He also has won one pole, at Dover.

Winning the Brickyard would be special, he said.

"It's tough enough to win any of the Winston Cup races," he said. "Any event you can win is really special, but obviously the Brickyard is one of the bigger races of the year, and, I mean, that would be pretty cool to win."

Wallace has driven in all eight previous Brickyard 400s and has only one finish outside of the top eight, including a pair of seconds. He still harbors a strong desire to win the Brickyard. That's why the team brought a new car to the track for testing, he said.

"I'd love to win this race," said Wallace, who will turn 46 10 days after the Brickyard. "That's the reason we're giving so much effort into testing here.

"I'll never forget the year Dale Earnhardt won the race (1995). I led all day long and got stuck on pit row. I finished second and lost the race. Then the year before last, I led all day long, and with 15 laps to go Bobby Labonte passed me. I finished second again."

Also topping 180 Tuesday were Ted Musgrave, Kevin Harvick, winner of Sunday's race at Chicagoland Speedway, veteran Ricky Rudd and top rookie Jimmie Johnson. Rudd, who won the 1997 Brickyard 400, is debating retirement or departure from the Robert Yates team at the end of the season.

John Andretti clocked a high-179 lap in his Petty Enterprises No. 43 Cheerios car and said he still wants to take another shot at the Indianapolis 500. He had planned to do the Indianapolis 500/Coca-Cola 600 double in May, but a snag developed in the negotiations.

"Oh, yeah, in the worse way," Andretti said about getting a chance to qualify for an eighth time for the "500."

"Kyle and I are even talking about the Indy 500 and all that, too. He knows I really want to do it. And he wants me to do it. That's all a big part of discussion right now."

-ims-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , John Andretti , Brett Bodine , Jeff Burton , Matt Kenseth , Bobby Labonte , Rusty Wallace , Todd Bodine , Jimmy Spencer , Kevin Harvick , Jerry Nadeau , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Ted Musgrave , Jimmie Johnson , Rick Mast , Chip Ganassi , Robert Yates , Mark Martin
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Team Penske