Wallace Leads Indy Testing

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INDIANAPOLIS - Kenny Wallace was fastest in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series testing July 19 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with an unofficial lap of 50.2502 seconds, 179.104 mph in the No. 00 Aaron's Chevrolet, a car owned by fellow NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series competitor Michael Waltrip.

Wallace's speed was nearly 2.5 mph faster than the 12 other drivers taking part in testing, and he attributed it to a solid program in place at Michael Waltrip Racing.

"This is Michael Waltrip's new Cup team in collaboration with DEI (Dale Earnhardt Inc.), so we have good equipment," Wallace said. "Our concern is to make the race for Aaron's, the sponsor. We've got a real competitive car, and we just keep tuning on it. Right now, we're where we want to be."

2002 NASCAR champion Tony Stewart was second fastest in the No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet at 176.783, Bill Elliott was third in the No. 91 Visteon Dodge at 176.638, Dale Jarrett was fourth at 176.604 in the No. 88 UPS Ford and Geoffrey Bodine was fifth at 176.314 in the No. 34 RaceElPaso Dodge.

Ryan Newman also tested in the No. 12 Alltel Dodge for Penske Racing. The team did not authorize the release of speeds during the private test.

Newman, a native of South Bend, Ind., said that while he appreciates the history of the 2.5-mile IMS oval, located less than three hours from his hometown, he has an even greater appreciation for the challenge the Speedway presents to NASCAR NEXTEL Cup teams and drivers.

"To me, this is a greater race than the Daytona 500, in my opinion, mostly because to me it's more of a race than Daytona," he said. "The track's (IMS) got more historical value, and that's cool and all, but I enjoy the racetrack, I enjoy the racing, I enjoy the spectacle (of) what it is now."

Newman graduated with an engineering degree from Purdue University in W. Lafayette, Ind., and used his background in that field describe the importance of testing at IMS year after year.

"Different tires, different cars, different people," he said. "(We're) trying to get the whole mathematical equation to balance out, and that's why we're testing."

Elliott, winner of the 2002 Brickyard 400, will return to Indianapolis driving a third car for the Evernham Motorsports team, the same team with which he won. He is running a limited NEXTEL Cup schedule in 2004 and is ready to compete in the 11th Brickyard 400 on Aug. 8.

"It kind of caps off all the years I've been racing to come here and win," he said. "Indy does so much for all the racers. It's such a pleasure to come here and race here. I really enjoy the racetrack from the standpoint of even when we came back here in the early 1990s and run Goodyear tests, back in 1992.

"I've always thought a lot of this place, and I've really enjoyed racing here for a number of years, and I look forward to racing here again."

In addition to starting his 11th consecutive race at Indianapolis, Elliott has another streak on the line. Of the 1,600 laps of competition that have taken place in the 160-lap Brickyard 400, Elliott has completed 1,599, the most of any driver. The only time Elliott has failed to finish every lap in the Brickyard 400 was 1999.

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