Johnson, Gordon pace Allstate 400 practice
Johnson, the 2006 race winner, was the first driver to break the 180-mph mark on the day and turned a top lap of 180.047 in the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet. Gordon, the only four-time Allstate 400 at the Brickyard winner, ran 180.007 in the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet.
The practices were crucial for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams, as it was the first time the entire field has taken to the challenging 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval in NASCAR's new-generation Sprint Cup car.
"It's going to be tough, there's no doubt about it," said Chad Knaus, crew chief for Johnson's No. 48 Chevrolet Impala SS. "Right now the track is real abrasive until we get some rubber laid down on the racetrack, so it's not a very good indication of what we're going to have on Sunday. In single-lap runs, the car is fine. When we get out there with a lot of other people it's going to be difficult to pass, typical of what we see here. But the Lowe's Chevrolet is running great. I'm really excited about it."
South Bend, Ind., native Ryan Newman was third-fastest in the No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge at 179.723, Elliott Sadler led the first session but was fourth overall at 179.190 in the No. 19 Stanley Dodge and Kasey Kahne was fifth in the No. 9 Budweiser/LifeLock Dodge at 179.075.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying is scheduled for 10:10 a.m. (ET) Saturday, July 26, with two afternoon practices set for 2-3 p.m. and 3:30-4:30 p.m.
The Miller Lite Rock N Racing concert featuring The Goo Goo Dolls will take place from 4:45-6 p.m. at the Miller Lite Stage located in the IMS infield behind the Hall of Fame Museum.
The 15th Allstate 400 at the Brickyard is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. Sunday.
KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge): "Practice was OK. We worked a little bit on our race setup, and the last hour we worked on our qualifying setup. So we hope tomorrow morning when everything is nice and cool, the engine gets all that power, that we'll have a great run. We go out pretty early in the morning. We got a new car, new tires. It's like roulette for a little while. You find your numbers and then you start betting with 'em. It's a tough game because you wish you still had the old car some days."
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Budweiser/Lifelock Dodge): "I'm pretty happy. We did a lot there. The weather changed some, and this track is really weather-sensitive. It was a good practice for us. We learned a lot. I think we'll definitely have a great shot at getting a pole here. We'll see what happens." (About reaching qualifying speeds): "I think this last practice, the majority of what you see is all preparation for qualifying tomorrow. We ended up fourth on there. The car wasn't doing exactly what we wanted, so if we make the right adjustments we'll have a really good shot at qualifying in the top five tomorrow." (About the learning curve with the new car): "It seemed fine in qualifying trim. We'll learn a lot more tomorrow afternoon as far as the race goes for Sunday. For qualifying, it drives pretty good. It drives really close to what I was expecting. It should be fun qualifying tomorrow. I look forward to it."
RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 Alltel Dodge): "The car felt pretty good. I spent a lot of time in qualifying trim to try and make sure we get good track position just making sure we can get good track position to start the race on Sunday. I got a good qualifying draw. I'm going out second. That will be very advantageous for us tomorrow, as well. This race means something to me since it's in Indiana, but it means more to me that it's Indianapolis. It's Indy. It's the Brickyard. It's the home of the '500' and 100 years of automotive racing. So to me, that means the most. I think the track has been pretty consistent. Obviously, it's changed a little bit with the asphalt from the grinding, but in general, the way you drive and the way you race hasn't changed here, at least for me in the last eight years."
BILL ELLIOTT (No. 21 Motorcraft Ford): "I think we gained a lot. I just feel like we were trying to fight the race track every little bit to get things going. We just need to keep hitting it some more. We've got to get a little better to get in this show." (What is the difference between last year's car and this year's car?): "If I closed my eyes, I really couldn't tell the difference. It's still the same Indy."
KEVIN HARVICK (No. 29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet): "We had a great practice. The car has been good since we unloaded. The driver needs to get a little extra out of it tomorrow. I'm really proud of these Shell guys, and we'll see what happens tomorrow." ("Is this track as weather-sensitive as you see?"): "It is. Tomorrow, we have a late draw, so I don't think it is going to be hotter than it is right now. I don't think it will be any worse than it is right now."
JEFF BURTON (No. 31 Prilosec OTC Chevrolet): "We're off a little bit. We're not terrible, but we're not where we want to be. We'll take today's data and spend some time tonight to try to see if we can make it better, but I think we're OK. We're not great, but we're OK."
REED SORENSON (No. 41 Target Dodge): "Well, it was OK. It's a different car here than we what we've ever had here before, so we're just kind of learning with it. This hasn't been our strong point, that's for sure, with these bigger tracks. It wasn't very good in race trim. It was really, really tight, and then it was opposite in qualifying trim. So we're kind of struggling on trying to find a smooth balance with it, but I think we should be able to put down a decent lap tomorrow. We really had a good car last year, but it's a totally different game now. We've been kind of struggling with these type tracks, so this is one of our toughest places. The faster the track, it seems like the more we struggle." (Anything you can use from the data from last year?): "Not really, not other than just maybe some air pressure. But as far as setup goes, it's way different."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge): (About his spin in Turn 1): "I don't know, man. It's a lot different, that's for sure. That, and I never got a chance to run this car here, so I didn't know what to expect. It didn't disappoint me. It's a lot different. It's interesting. I felt like we learned a lot and gained a lot throughout the two sessions. We made ourselves better. Obviously, we're not where we want to be at yet, but I feel like we're heading in the right direction. We'll just keep working at it, and I'm real happy that the Mobil 1 guys worked real hard to make sure that we got the maximum amount of time today, and here we are." (About his setup balance for qualifying): "Not a good enough one, but we definitely found something. We're heading in the right direction, and we kind of gained time every time we went out there. We just needed some more practice. That's about it." (About the new car at IMS): "Coming here for me, my first time on the track. My first time in
DALE EARNHARDT JR. (No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet): "I got to tell you, my horsepower is unbelievable. I couldn't believe it when I got in there today. I got to thank the engine department. This is the kind of place where it really shows up."
CARL EDWARDS (No. 99 AFLAC Ford): "I think this AFLAC Fusion is going to be fast. It's better than I thought it was going to be here. The cars handle pretty well." (What is the difference between last year's car and this year's car?): "I thought it would be a lot more different. It's not that bad. They took those rumble strips, which makes it a lot easier to be aggressive in the corner and not worry about hitting that splitter on the ground. That's the thing I was really worried about, but it's good."
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