Spencer Leads Testing At Indy

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Jimmy Spencer, the 2001 Brickyard 400 pole winner, was fastest in NASCAR Nextel Cup Series testing on Monday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Spencer, driving the No. 4 Wide Open Energy Drink Chevrolet for Morgan-McClure Motorsports, turned a lap of 50.4155 seconds, 178.517 mph on a sunny and humid day in Indianapolis with temperatures reaching 86 degrees.

"We came in full qualifying trim," Spencer said. "At the Brickyard, it's important where you qualify, simply because if you don't have a good qualifying day, you're going to start pretty far back, and track position and, anymore, pit position is so critical at all the racetracks, including the Brickyard.

"We're hoping we can be a top-10 car when we come back. We'll work on some race setups (Tuesday), mainly run some long runs."

This was the first day of a two-day test in preparation for the 11th Brickyard 400 on Aug. 8. Testing resumes from 9 a.m.-noon and 1-5 p.m. (EST) Tuesday, and the public is welcome to watch testing for free in the South Terrace grandstands, located inside the track between Turns 1 and 2.

Additional teams are scheduled to participate in private testing on July 19-20.

Mark Martin was second fastest in the No. 6 Viagra Ford at 177.535 and Jeremy Mayfield was third in the No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge at 176.958. Elliott Sadler, driving the No. 38 M&M's Ford, was fourth at 176.426, and Joe Nemechek was fifth in the No. 01 USG Sheetrock Chevrolet at 176.074.

Martin has scored six top-10 finishes in 10 starts at Indianapolis and hopes he can record an elusive victory in the 11th Brickyard 400.

"We really need to win it this year," he said. "That would really make our season. We've had a lot of disappointment this year. We've had a really fast race car a lot of times, and that would make our season."

Although teams have tested at IMS for a number of years, Martin said coming back year after year is critical.

"The cars evolve," Martin said, "every piece on the car evolves, so it's a good place to come and get on your game. You can leave here with new information that will help you out a lot of other places, as well. And then you're sort of ready in case you get rain here in practice and you don't get the kind of practice you expected."

Rookie Brian Vickers, driver of the No. 25 GMAC Financial Services Chevrolet, took his first laps at the 2.5-mile IMS oval July 12 after having won the NASCAR Busch Series race at nearby Indianapolis Raceway Park in 2003.

"To have won at Indy is pretty neat, but to be actually at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is very, very big," he said.

Vickers was a spectator, along with Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, in June at IMS during qualifying for the 2004 United States Grand Prix Formula One race, conducted on the Speedway's 2.605-mile road course. While Vickers was impressed with the high-tech world of F1, he was more excited about turning laps of his own today at the Speedway.

"It's a lot more fun, obviously, being out there myself," he said. "It would be pretty neat to drive a Formula One car around this track. It's pretty amazing the first time you go out there (in a Nextel Cup car) and just take it all in. Grandstands on both sides, just the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in general. It's a really cool feeling. It's a tough racetrack. I like it."

Reserved-seat Race Day tickets for the Brickyard 400 remain available. Tickets, parking and camping reservations can be purchased on the World Wide Web at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com or by calling the IMS Ticket Office at (800) 822-INDY or (317) 492-6700.

Rank Car No. Driver Speed (mph)
1. 4A Jimmy Spencer 178.517
2. 6 Mark Martin 177.535
3. 19A Jeremy Mayfield 176.958
4. 38 Elliott Sadler 176.426
5. 01B Joe Nemechek 176.074
6. 2A Rusty Wallace 175.208
7. 25A Brian Vickers 175.050
8. 21A Ricky Rudd 175.030
9. 16 Greg Biffle 174.877
10. 41 Casey Mears 174.862
11. 10A Scott Riggs 174.737
12. 60 Jason Leffler 174.621
13. 9B Kasey Kahne 174.603
14. 99 Jeff Burton 174.582
15. 24A Jeff Gordon 174.566
16. 23 Tony Raines 174.090
17. 22 Scott Wimmer 173.833
18. 49 Ken Schrader 173.131
19. 77B Brendan Gaughan 173.029
20. 98 Todd Bodine 172.601
21. 14 Larry Foyt 167.101
22. 72 Kirk Shelmerdine 158.581

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