Montoya and Bowyer like new tire for TMS History was made today at Texas Motor Speedway as NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Clint Bowyer made the initial laps with the Car of Tomorrow (Now Car of Today) at the 1.5-mile, high-banked superspeedway.
Montoya, the 2007 series rookie of the year, and Bowyer, who finished third in the 2007 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, are participating in a closed, two-day Goodyear tire test in preparation for the April 6 Samsung 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at TMS. This two-day test is critical as it will be the only time the COT will have track time at TMS prior to the Samsung 500 race weekend scheduled for April 3-6.
“The new car is a little tight in the center, but I think it’s pretty exciting,” Montoya said. “I wasn’t sure what to expect. You’re going to see about the same thing I think. I don’t think it’s going to change much. Whoever has a better balance is going to the front and whoever has a bad balance goes to the back. Give us a couple more months in this car on the big tracks like here at Texas Motor Speedway and people are going to be happy.”
From a crew chief’s perspective, this test is crucial to learning what adjustments need to be made with the COT on the 1.5-mile tracks, which includes Texas Motor Speedway. The COT competed on a majority of the tracks on last season’s Sprint Cup Series schedule, but this year will make the first time for 1.5-mile layouts.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a whole lot different from what we’ve run here at Texas in the past,” said Donnie Wingo, crew chief for Montoya and the No. 42 Texaco/Havoline/Wrigley’s Dodge. “We are not far off the times we ran here last year. I think that’s one thing Goodyear is really working hard on and NASCAR also is to get the tires more compatible to what we’ve be running on. Race pace is really close. Goodyear just wants to get a baseline setup with the tire that we’re running now, and then we’ll just run through some different compounds. I think it will get better when everyone gets used to working on it. The more we work with the new car the better we’ll get. I think it’s an advantage any time you can get track time at a place you race at. I think you’re going to continue to see good racing action here at Texas with the Car of Tomorrow.”
“It is surprisingly good,” said Bowyer, driver of the No. 07 Jack Daniel’s Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing. “I’m happy with how we unloaded and the tire Goodyear brought. I am pleasantly surprised with our speeds that the car has here at TMS. There are definitely things that feel different, but I went out there and felt comfortable on the first lap, and buried it out on the end of Turn 1 and it stuck and away we went. It’s really handling well and doing the things that the old car did. It feels comfortable; it feels normal. That’s one of the things as a driver you want to see. The consistency is there.”
After competing in 16 races with the Car of Tomorrow in 2007, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams will compete full time with the new vehicle in 2008. The upcoming Samsung 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at TMS will mark the debut of the Car of Tomorrow at “The Great American Speedway!”