Monday Test In The Books

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"Data" was the word of the day as nearly 50 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams tested Monday at Lowe's Motor Speedway in preparation for the May 17 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and the
May 25 Coca-Cola 600.

Throughout the garage area, engineers and crew chiefs poured through computer data gathered on the 1.5-mile superspeedway as teams continue to learn the handling nuances of the new Sprint Cup Series race car.

Elliott Sadler ended up on top of the speed chart, posting a lap of 186.245 mph during the evening session. Sadler was driving the No. 19b Best Buy Dodge. A.J. Allmendinger was the biggest surprise of the testing session. He ended up second fastest at 184.150 mph in the No. 84 Red Bull Toyota.

Kevin Harvick, last year's winner of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, was third fastest at 184.118 mph in the No. 29 Shell/Pennzoil
Chevrolet with Kyle Busch fourth on the speed chart at 183.886 in the No. 18 M&Ms Toyota. Jamie McMurray rounded out the top five at 183.492 mph in the No. 26 Crown Royal Ford.

A last-minute addition to the NASCAR schedule, teams praised NASCAR and speedway officials for hosting the two-day session.

"It's so tough to get track time right now, especially on tracks that we compete at," said three-time Coca-Cola 600 winner Jimmie Johnson. "If you're not on the real track, it's really tough to have anything to carry over and help the team. On top of that, to get tires, because without the right tires to test with, it's a very big struggle too.

"This test was welcomed by everyone. We're glad to be out here and I think it will help us advance the Car of Tomorrow and put on a better show here for the 600 and All-Star weekend," concluded the driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet.

"Obviously, this was not a scheduled test, so I think it's great for us to get extra information," said Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet. "We're gathering all kinds of data with the car and obviously looking for speed. Sometimes that takes more time. When you only have a couple hours of practice at the race track, it's sometimes hard to find that. You can take your time a little more (during a test) and really try things and make changes.

"Based on our first couple of runs out there this morning, I'm pretty glad we're here," Gordon added. "Gathering data and information is what we're really here for. I think that by having all the cars here, it's going to make for a little bit better race. The more cars and teams that test, the more we get the cars closer to one another and we won't have one car that just checks out."

"We struggled a little bit at Texas and Atlanta and feel like we learned some good things at Nashville last week and we're looking forward to seeing how they apply here to Charlotte," said defending Coca-Cola 600 winner Casey Mears. "The 1.5-mile tracks are the ones that have been tricky for us this year.

"This car is quite a bit different," added the driver of the No. 5 Kellogg's/CARQUEST Chevrolet. "The car is still aero tight and the speeds are pretty similar. We're getting around the tracks pretty well. I just think in a pack, it's a little bit more difficult to drive. It seems like when someone is on the outside of you, they tend to get a lot looser."

"With the old car, it was whoever handled the best," said Brian Vickers, driver of the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota. "With this one, it's whoever doesn't handle as bad as everyone else. This test is definitely important. This is a big race, an important race for all the teams because it's in their backyards. I'm proud of NASCAR for taking the initiative to add this test to the schedule."

There were two incidents during the 10-hour testing session. The first came shortly after the lunch break when David Gilliland slid high in Turn 2 and brushed the outside SAFER barrier. The Riverside, Calif., resident was able to drive his No. 38 Ford back to the garage area. Then, Scott Riggs spun in Turn 4 during the evening session, but did not make wall contact.

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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, 2008

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