Sears Point open test report 2002-04-23

Kenseth posts top time in first day of testing at Sears Point Raceway. SONOMA, Calif. - Matt Kenseth posted the top time during the first day of a NASCAR Winston Cup test session on Tuesday at Sears Point Raceway. Kenseth, one of six drivers...

Kenseth posts top time in first day of testing at Sears Point Raceway.

SONOMA, Calif. - Matt Kenseth posted the top time during the first day of a NASCAR Winston Cup test session on Tuesday at Sears Point Raceway.

Kenseth, one of six drivers testing the 10-turn, 2-mile road course in preparation for June's Dodge/Save Mart 350, toured the circuit in 1 minute, 18.42 seconds. He was followed by rookie Jimmie Johnson (1:18.98) and Ricky Rudd (low 1:19s), a four-time pole-sitter at Sears Point.

Kenseth has placed 32nd (2000) and 21st (2001) in two prior visits to Sears Point, so Tuesday's time was a marked improvement. The two-day session will conclude on Wednesday.

"I guess he's starting to get the hang of this road-course thing," quipped Robbie Reiser, Kenseth's crew chief.

Other testers included Ron Fellows (1:19.50), Kurt Busch (1:19.70) and rookie Ryan Newman (1:19.80). One change drivers encountered Tuesday was a tighter transition between Turns 12-1 because of the permanent separation of the road course from the drag strip, which has been a long-time criticism of Sears Point Raceway. Portions of the track have also been repaved. The facility is in the final stages of $50 million Modernization Plan.

Busch, who won a NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Series event at Sears Point in 1999, was pleased that the Winston Cup cars will no longer have to use the drag strip. "I've always enjoyed coming out here and it's much better now that we don't have to use the drag strip," he said. "That surface was pretty slick."

Other improvements drivers will find for race weekend (June 20-23) include increased runoff at almost every turn on the road course, as well as a full 43 stalls on pit road, thus eliminating the need for the infamous "Gilligan's Island" on the inside of Turn 11. The entire circuit will be repaved in September.

-sp-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Ron Fellows , Jimmie Johnson