Mears Fastest on Day two of Busch Testing
In a sport where tires often begin giving up speed after a single lap, the 42 NASCAR Busch Series teams participating in the testing session learned the harder compound tires Goodyear built for the new Charlotte Motor Speedway surface are very unusual. They actually pick up speed the longer they run, meaning decisions on when to pit for tires will be critical.
"I ran my fastest lap on 85-lap tires," emphasized Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet. "You could probably Armor-All them, put a sticker on them and put them back on the shelf as new."
"The tires we have here are definitely going to hold up," said Jon Wood, who was fast throughout the session in the No. 47 Clorox Ford. "You could probably do the race in one stop for tires. If we could have a caution every 60 or 70 laps to cool the tires and to come in for fuel, I think the tires might make the whole race. They're not wearing a bit."
Second-generation driver Johnny Sauter echoed his competitor's sentiments about the Goodyear Eagles.
"We have pretty much run the same tires two days in a row and center lines are still on them," said the driver of the No. 00 Yellow Transportation Chevrolet. "We're just trying to figure out how we can get some speed out of the car on sticker tires."
Casey Mears proved best at finding the speed as the No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge topped the speed chart at 187.071 mph.
Mears' Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Reed Sorenson was second fastest at 186.554 mph in the No. 41 Discount Tire Dodge and Denny Hamlin, fastest on Tuesday, was third on the speed chart at 186.021 in the Rockwell Automation Chevrolet.
The Husqvarna No. 19 Chevrolet, shared by Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Hamlin and J.J. Yeley, ended up fourth quickest at 185.746 mph while Wood was fifth fastest at 185.166.
Busch Series regular Paul Menard was among those who tested a NEXTEL Cup car here last week in preparation for the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday evening, May 28.
"These Busch cars drive a lot better than the Cup cars do at this track," Menard said about his No. 11 Menards Chevrolet. "They have a lot more spoiler which results in a lot more downforce, so I'm sure that helps. We have two cars. One is kind of an experimental piece and the other is our tried-and-true race car."
Even though the track sports a new coat of asphalt, Sauter said all the teams arrived for the test with the same basic chassis set-up. "We pretty much know what we want for a package when we get here," Sauter said. "With everyone coil-binding the way we are, we pretty much run the same set-up everywhere we go. Obviously, we're doing things like bump-steer, ackerman sweeps and things like that to find a little more front grip. The race track is different, the tire is a little bit different, but at the end of the day our procedure is still pretty much the same."
The caution flag was unfurled five times for single-car crashes during the seven-hour session. Jeff Burton, Scott Wimmer, Eric McClure, Danny O'Quinn and Matt McCall each found the SAFER barrier, but no injuries resulted.
NASCAR Busch Series testing for the May 27 CARQUEST Auto Parts 300 continues Wednesday. Teams will be on the track from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. each day with a one-hour dinner break at 5 p.m. Charlotte Motor Speedway's main grandstand will be open free of charge and spectators should enter through Gate 5A at the base of Smith Tower.
Tickets for all May events, including the CARQUEST Auto Parts 300 on Saturday night, May 27, can be purchased online at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-455-FANS.
Showing driver and fastest lap: 1. Casey Mears, 187.071; 2. Reed Sorenson, 186.554; 3. Denny Hamlin, 186.021; 4. Denny Hamlin/J.J. Yeley, 185.746; 5. Jon Wood, 185.166; 6. Kasey Kahne, 185.109; 7. Paul Menard, 185.096; 8. J.J. Yeley, 185.008; 9. Joel Kauffman, 184.957; 10. Jeff Burton, 184.894; 11. Jamie McMurray, 184.843; 12. Jason Leffler, 184.596; 13. Mark Martin, 184.565; 14. Martin Truex Jr., 184.388; 15. Kyle Busch, 184.388; 16. Carl Edwards, 184.168; 17. Kenny Wallace, 184.074; 18. Stephen Leicht, 183.748; 19. Kertus Davis, 183.711; 20. Todd Kluever, 183.424; 21. Regan Smith, 183.343; 22. Kurt Busch, 183.243; 23. John Andretti, 183.237; 24. Matt Kenseth, 183.212; 25. Stacy Compton, 183.107; 26. Johnny Sauter, 183.038; 27. Clint Bowyer, 182.859; 28. Matt McCall, 182.797; 29. Burney Lamar, 182.469; 30. Mike Wallace, 182.309; 31. Michael Waltrip, 182.297; 32. Tracy Hines, 182.180; 33. Ashton Lewis Jr., 181.996; 34. Scott Wimmer, 181.604; 35. Mark McFarland, 181.372; 36. Eric McClure, 180.929; 37. Brandon Miller, 180.747; 38. David Gilliland, 180.626; 39. Kevin Conway, 180.608; 40. Aaron Fike, 180.433; 41. David Green, 179.742; 42. Danny O'Quinn, 175.575.