NASCAR testing held at Indianapolis Motor Speedway UPDATE After two days of testing earlier this week at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Goodyear has decided to use the same tread compound at this year's Brickyard 400 that drivers raced on in 2010, Stu Grant, Goodyear's general manager of worldwide racing, told Sporting News. Grant said the tire maker was opting for a known quantity in the tread compound, one that produced a problem-free race won by Jamie McMurray last year. In keeping with what Goodyear has done at many tracks this season, there will be a slight construction change to the tires supplied at Indy. The right-side tires will be slightly smaller, with an eye toward improved handling. The left sides will feature a mold shape change to preserve the stagger. Sporting News
05/04/11 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stars Juan Pablo Montoya, Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle, Paul Menard and Martin Truex Jr. got a head start on preparations for the 2011 Brickyard 400 by participating in a Goodyear tire test May 3-4 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The 18th annual Brickyard 400 is scheduled for Sunday, July 31.
Richard Childress Racing driver Menard said drivers and teams still gained plenty of important data and experience despite a high temperature of only 60, at least 20 degrees cooler than the probable Race Day temperature in July.
"It was good," Menard said. "Goodyear is trying a bunch of different things, and we hit on a couple things that will hopefully make a great race even better come July.
"It's a nice, cool day, and we'll come back in July and it'll be really hot, so times will be a lot slower. You have to take that into account in what you do as a driver and kind of set up trends that we learn today and tomorrow that we'll apply for July, for sure."
2000 Indianapolis 500 winner Montoya returned to IMS with one goal for this year's Brickyard 400 - victory. He dominated the 2009 race, leading 116 laps before finishing 11th after a pit-road speeding penalty. He started the 2010 race from the pole and led 86 laps before finishing 32nd due to an accident while charging toward the lead with 14 laps remaining.
Despite the heartbreak of the last two years, Montoya doesn't think IMS owes him a victory July 31.
"To tell you the truth, they gave me a big one at the beginning," Montoya said. "I got the '500,' and that means a lot to me. I would love to get the '400' win, but it's been like it was in Formula One, when every time I came here in Formula One, we were always so close to winning and it never happened.
"I feel like I'm a lot closer in NASCAR than I was in Formula One, so I'm pretty pumped."
2004 Sprint Cup champion Busch also has a special reason for wanting to earn his first Brickyard 400 victory. He drives for Penske Racing, which has won the Indianapolis 500 a record 15 times but never has captured a victory in the annual midsummer NASCAR classic at IMS.
"It would mean the world to me," Busch said. "To bring it on the NASCAR side, we haven't done that before, and it takes a full effort. It seems like it's easy on the INDYCAR side for those guys to bolt it together and pull home those wins, especially here at Indy.
"So we're hoping we can do that here in July, and this is great that Goodyear invited us to be part of this tire test. It helps us get that little edge on the competition."
NASCAR GOODYEAR TIRE TEST QUOTES:
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA (No. 42 Target Chevrolet): "I think it's good to get the information on the tire. We get to pick the tire that we're going to be running here for the race, and I think that's always very useful. It's always fun and a cool place to run, and it's kind of weird when you come here and there's nobody around, but it's fun." (About his return to IMS on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500, which he won in 2000): "It's really cool. It's a shame that I'm going to miss all of that because I'm running that evening in Charlotte, and I'll have to be focused on what I'm doing."
KURT BUSCH (No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge): "It's always a treat and a privilege running out here at Indy. It was a short day for us with the rain this morning, and then our motor broke halfway through the afternoon, but we'll have a full day tomorrow to get caught up." (About if tire testing helps prepare for the race): "Yes. Big time. We don't get a chance to test on tracks we race on all that often. The ultimate reason to be here is a Goodyear tire test, and yes, the tire was good here last July. But we can make it better, and that's what we're here to try to help them do."
PAUL MENARD (No. 27 Menards Chevrolet): (About if he follows the IZOD IndyCar Series, in which his father was a car owner for nearly a decade): "I watch all the races that I can. I can remember walking through the (IMS Hall of Fame) Museum when I was 8 years old and kind of being in awe of the place, and I still am. It's cool to turn laps around Indianapolis in May, something I've never done before, and definitely it's something I'll be paying attention to next week and throughout the '500' week."