TONY STEWART OPENS NASCAR WINSTON CUP TESTING AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY FOR PENNZOIL 400 HOMESTEAD, Fla. (August 31, 1999) - NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie of the Year candidate Tony Stewart took part in the first testing session for the November...
TONY STEWART OPENS NASCAR WINSTON CUP TESTING AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY FOR PENNZOIL 400
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (August 31, 1999) - NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie of the Year candidate Tony Stewart took part in the first testing session for the November 14 Pennzoil 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway Tuesday, driving the Home Depot Pontiac in a private test for the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company.
Unofficially, Stewart was credited with a lap of 36.70 on the 1.5-mile circuit (147.139 mph), but he pointed out that top speed was not the goal of the session.
"The whole point of doing a tire test for Goodyear is to find out what kind of tire we need to put on a good show in November," Stewart explained. "We're trying to find a Winston Cup tire that's going to be competitive while lasting for the duration of a run. Even though they race the NASCAR Craftsman Trucks and Busch Series here, we're making sure the tires we will be running in November are going to be suitable for a Winston Cup car.
"I think we're making progress," he added. "I think we're going to have a real competitive tire for the race."
While Stewart's back bumper still carries the yellow stripes of a NASCAR Winston Cup rookie, his 1999 performance has been consistently up with the veterans. After 23 of 34 races, Stewart ranks fifth in the Winston Cup points with seven top-fives and 15 top-tens.
Stewart has previous NASCAR Busch Series experience at Homestead, but failed to finish in a pair of starts in the Jiffy Lube Miami 300. He crashed and was credited with 37th in 1997, and was 39th last year after having clutch failure.
"Racing here in a Busch Series car helps. You get to know the layout and characteristics of the racetrack, and gives you a head start for Winston Cup. My Busch Series experience here also puts me on an even keel with a lot of the Winston Cup guys, since it's the first Winston Cup race here. But I know the guys who haven't raced a Busch car here are excited about coming here for the first time."
Stewart had nothing but praise for the newest facility on the NASCAR Winston Cup schedule.
"I love it," he said. "The facility's unbelievable. The track doesn't have a bump on it. To see the progress that this Speedway has made, and to see the potential that it has for the future, this is going to be one of the ultimate motorsports facilities in the world."
Crew chief Greg Zipadelli shared his driver's optimism.
"I think this is going to be a nice track for the Winston Cup cars to race at," Zipadelli said. "While we don't get to work on our car like we would at one of our private tests, we appreciate the opportunity to come here for Goodyear and get some laps on the track."