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Testing continues at Indianapolis

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Testing continues at Indianapolis
By:
Apr 29, 2015, 2:31 PM

With the Goodyear tire test in the books, open testing begins at the Brickyard.

Goodyear tires
Race winner Jeff Gordon kisses the yard of Bricks
Greg Stucker, Goodyear Racing Tire Division
Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Goodyear tires ready to go
Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet
Drew Blickensderfer
Brad Keselowski, Penske Racing Ford
Restart
Jeff Gordon, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Drew Blickensderfer
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet

The Brickyard 400 is considered the second most prestigious stop on the NASCAR Sprint Cup calendar.

So it's not surprising that a cast of A-listers would show at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for an open test this week.

Following a two-day Goodyear tire test with defending Brickyard 400 winner Jeff Gordon, former Indy 500 victor Sam Hornish Jr., 500 participant J.J. Yeley and Martin Truex Jr. providing data for the manufacturer, the 2.5-mile track opens on Wednesday to additional competitors.

"The ground track surface at Indy makes it very sensitive to the tire set up," said Greg Stucker, Goodyear's director of racing. "The focus of the Indy test will be to make sure we have the correct tire combination to match the new characteristics of the low downforce, low horsepower 2015 rules package.

"The surface of the track is very abrasive, so getting the correct compounds and constructions to generate the desired wear characteristics, while maintaining the level of grip for competitive racing, is critical."

Stucker's concern with the new car is understandable. Goodyear was at the center of the 2008 Brickyard 400 debacle when NASCAR introduced the Car of Tomorrow but failed to test tires adequately at IMS prior to the event. The 160-lap event was slowed by 11 cautions and 130 miles of the 400 mile race was run under yellow-flag conditions as tires kept blowing out on the new surface. 

Bringing the Brickyard back

Unfortunately, the popularity of the race has never recovered with fans. Still, the venue ranks at the top for many competitors on the Sprint Cup tour. 

Drew Blickensderfer, crew chief for Hornish and the No. 9 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford who grew up in neighboring Illinois, remains enamored with the heritage and speed of IMS. 

But when you're at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and you're standing next to the pagoda, next to the pylon, next to pit road and you see that car come down the straightaway at 207 mile per hour into Turn 1, there's no bigger thrill in motorsports that I've ever received than to be a part of that.

Drew Blickensderfer

"We belly ache a lot about what we do throughout the season," Blickensderfer told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Tuesday. "We get spoiled. But when you're at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and you're standing next to the pagoda, next to the pylon, next to pit road and you see that car come down the straightaway at 207 mile per hour into Turn 1, there's no bigger thrill in motorsports that I've ever received than to be a part of that."

Passing the test

Teams tested a variety of tires including compounds from the last two NASCAR races at the Brickyard along with tires used at Auto Club Speedway earlier this year. 

"The tires had a lot of grip," Blickensderfer said. "I think we came up with a good conclusion.

"Goodyear is in a tough spot. They're trying to please NASCAR. NASCAR has an agenda that they want. The want more passing or they want more pit stops or they want more this or more that...but there's always a difference of opinion for sure."

Blickensderfer believes NASCAR's new testing policy which piggy backs open test behind Goodyear tests has "worked out pretty good" because the team are enjoying more time to shake down the cars. Although the No. 9 concentrated completely on Goodyear's exercises in the morning, the team was allowed "free time" in the afternoon to dial in their car.

Joining the Gordon, Hornish, Truex and Yeley on Wednesday will be Cup series champion and 2003 Indy winner Kevin Harvick, former champion Brad Keselowski, 2011 Brickyard winner Paul Menard, Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson, Casey Mears and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

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