Rain shortens Cup test at Brickyard

Scott Riggs and the MBV Motorsports team led testing on a rain-shortened day July 12 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a speed of 181.244 mph in the No. 10 Valvoline Chevrolet. Riggs' top lap ranks him as seventh-fastest to date in 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series private testing at the 2.5-mile oval.

Greg Biffle remains the fastest of 2005 testing so far, thanks to the lap of 181.963 he posted July 10. The top five overall in 2005 testing at Indianapolis, which includes test days on July 5-6 and 11-12, are Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Ken Schrader, Robby Gordon and Elliott Sadler.

Riggs and his competitors are trying to get a handle on the combination of the newly repaved track surface at IMS and a new Goodyear tire compound, which will make finding the right setup difficult when teams return for the 12th Allstate 400 at the Brickyard on Aug. 7.

"I only have one race here under my belt, so I'm trying to deviate from what I learned during that first race and trying to figure out the difference in the track now and how it sort of changed and what direction it's changed," Riggs said. "It takes a little bit different setup. We're definitely working with our cars . our cars are a lot different than last year. They've evolved into being a lot better cars, but also it takes a lot of different setup, too. I've learned a lot."

Ken Schrader was second-fastest of the day at 181.051 in the No. 49 Schwan's Home Service Dodge, and Jamie McMurray was third at 180.810 in the No. 42 Texaco Havoline Dodge. Weather forecasts called for heavy rains July 12 in Indianapolis, thanks to the remnants of Hurricane Dennis, but the 14 teams that elected to stay in town were able to find some track time. Brief, intermittent showers tested the patience of drivers and teams until heavier midday rain showers finally ended testing.

"Every time we go out, we want to make five eight-lap runs, but we're making one or two-lap runs because it keeps raining, and we're not finding out what the car's going to do on a long run, which is what we want to find out the most," Casey Mears said. "At the same time, we're still learning stuff."

Even though no driver has yet to approach Mears' track record of 186.293 set in 2004 qualifying, Mears is confident that his record will be broken this year.

"I think a combination of more grip in the track and less drag overall is making the speeds faster," he said. "We're seeing 208 (mph), 209 at the end of the straightaways while last year was 201. You're probably about the same in the corner but less drag down the straightaways. We haven't even made a qualifying run yet (in testing). If somebody hits it right and the weather's right, I see that track record going down."

The third and final round of private testing before the 12th Allstate 400 at the Brickyard continues July 18-19, with former race winners Dale Jarrett and Bill Elliott, scheduled to test both days along with former USAC standout Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Four-time Allstate 400 at the Brickyard winner Jeff Gordon and Indiana native Tony Stewart will test July 19 only.

Fans are welcome to watch testing July 18-19 from the South Terrace grandstands, located in the infield between Turns 1 and 2. Admission is free.

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