Drivers Tire Test At Indy

INDIANAPOLIS – NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne and Elliott Sadler took part in a private Goodyear test April 24 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, helping the tire company prepare for the 13th Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.

Each driver was picked to represent the three manufacturers in NEXTEL Cup: Chevrolet (Stewart), Dodge (Kahne) and Ford (Sadler). The trio will test again April 25.

The drivers focused on assisting Goodyear in finding the right combination of tires to bring back for the race on Sunday, Aug. 6.

Stewart, who was raised and resides in Columbus, Ind., fulfilled a lifelong dream by winning the 2005 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard by .794 of a second over Kahne. It was a career-best finish for both drivers at the challenging 2.5-mile oval.

Defending NEXTEL Cup Series champion Stewart took the most nonchalant view of this early test at the famed Brickyard.

"We just tested like we always do every week," Stewart said. "It’s no different than anywhere we go every week, you’ve just got to go do work. It’s awesome to be here in the spring and not be sweating like crazy, and be able to do a tire test before it gets busy in the month of May here."

Asked if the test gives him an advantage toward defending his Allstate 400 victory, Stewart said: "We spent all day running sets of tires that they wanted us (Goodyear) to run. We didn’t really get a chance to work on the car like the open test session (in July) would be. We just go out and do consistent 10-lap runs, give them feedback."

Kahne said the test is crucial for his Evernham Motorsports team.

"We can get a lot (of information)," he said. "We don’t know which tire we’ll choose (at the race) so we’re not sure there, but we have a new team and to throw different setups at it in the morning, use it through out the day, it’s been a good test for us."

Sadler, who has frequently expressed his love of IMS and desire to win the race over the years, was excited about the possibilities for the 2006 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.

"We had a good time today," Sadler said. "I think Goodyear has brought us a lot of good possibilities to come back with, something fun to race with. We tried a lot of different constructions, a lot of different compounds.

"All in all, we saw great tire wear. Goodyear was happy what they saw, and we’re happy what we saw. It was a great day at Indy.

"Indy is such a big race for us. Other than the Daytona 500, it’s the biggest race for the drivers, and everybody wants to kiss the bricks. It’s a big race for our sponsors, and we have so many fans here and so much heritage here – we’re concentrating on this race a lot. To be able to bring a car that we’re probably going to race here, a couple months early get some laps, take it home and fine-tune it and test it again, I think it’s kind of an advantage for the three teams here today."

Stewart, driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet, led 44 laps during the 2005 race, and Kahne led 39 laps in the No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge.

Sadler also led 39 laps in his No. 38 M&M’s Ford, but his result left a bad taste in his mouth. After posting the 10th-fastest speed among 46 drivers in July 2005 testing, he won the pole for the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. On Race Day, Sadler ran sixth or better all day long but pitted on Lap 150 because he thought a tire was going flat. He finished a disappointing 32nd, one lap down from winner Stewart.

"I want to come back and run good here," Sadler said. "I’ve always qualified good at this racetrack, just haven’t finished where I want to finish. To come here and get the pole was cool. That was one of the special moments in my racing career, but we want to add to that this year."

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