After several laps at Charlotte Motor Speedway during a Goodyear tire test Monday, NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series veteran Joe Nemechek believes track officials have achieved their goal of creating more side-by-side racing at the legendary 1.5-mile superspeedway. In preparation for the May races including the May 29 Coca-Cola 600 and May 21 NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge, engineers recently used a combination of Global Positioning System technology and three-dimensional laser mapping to smooth the track's asphalt surface.

"It's going to make for more side-by-side racing," Nemechek said after climbing from his No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet. "The grinding has added so much more grip, and it's not just around the bottom. It's from the bottom to the wall, and that's a very good thing when you are trying to race around the high groove.

"I've been running right around the bottom, trying to do the same thing every lap to give Goodyear some feedback," Nemechek continued. "But I've slid up a little bit and there is still a lot of grip. It might even be faster up high."

H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway, was encouraged by the feedback he received from Nemechek and Goodyear officials.

"This is the wave of the future," Wheeler said. "You'll see more tracks grind the surface in lieu of paving. It puts a second groove in an aged track. The increased grip is exactly what these drivers need with the current cars. It will make for better racing.

"That final 20-lap segment in the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge should be a dandy with door-to-door racing in two fast grooves."

"These guys have definitely figured out how to smooth a race track. It's the smoothest I can remember Charlotte Motor Speedway-even smoother than after the last time they paved it," Nemechek said. "We used to always talk about the 'Humpy bumps' and how 'Humpy' Wheeler put the bumps in to make things interesting. The grinding might have taken some character away from the track, but it's going to be very interesting when we come back in May."

With his Chevrolet in race trim, Nemechek consistently ran lap times close to Ryan Newman's 188.877-mph track qualifying record.

"The track has a tremendous amount of grip, and the drivers love it any time you can add grip," Nemechek said. "We are running much faster than we have run here in the past. We're getting close to the speeds we see at Atlanta and Texas."

Tickets for all May events at Charlotte Motor Speedway are available by contacting the track ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS or online at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com. The ticket office is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.