Teams Prepare with Chicago Test
By: Jeff Wackerlin - @JWackerlin Twitter and Instagram | MRN.com on August 27, 2014 | 8:00 A.M. EST
Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick are among the drivers that will kick off their championship run at Chicagoland Speedway. (Photo: Getty Images)
JOLIET, Ill. - Five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series organizations completed a two-day test at Chicagoland Speedway on Tuesday, preparing for the Chase-opening MyAFibStory.com 400 along with upcoming intermediate tracks on the schedule.
Stewart-Haas Racing, Roush Fenway Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing were able to gather data but had to wait out rain storms each day that started with one on Monday just past the lunch hour that saw torrential downpours and strong winds. Four of the 13 drivers that participated are locked into the Chase including Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch, who tested with SHR teammate Danica Patrick.
"Every time it rains, you go back out and it's fast then it slows back down," Harvick said. "We'll have to 'cipher through everything when we get home as to what we really think was right and what we think was wrong. We'll see when we come back in a few weeks."
Harvick, who will make his first Chicago start with SHR, has had success at the 1.5-mile track, winning the first two races in 2001 and 2002 with his previous team - Richard Childress Racing.
"It fits my driving style," Harvick said. "Over the past few years, the groove has spread out. That makes it fun as a driver. As we've gone through the years, the results have been good so that always helps your attitude as you approach a weekend."
Monday's break during the storm came at a good time for Roush Fenway Racing driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
"We got to sit and talk a lot about the changes we needed to make because we weren't very good," he said. "We made a lot of changes and got better. I’m glad we came to this test because if this was a race weekend, we would have been struggling. I do think we found a few things that helped the cars a little bit."
With Chicagoland Speedway's aging track surface, teams were also using the test to prepare for this weekend's Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
"Though Atlanta does give up a little bit more because of the tires, the track is old here and it has fairly good give-up as well," said Chip Ganassi Racing driver Jamie McMurray. "We can apply some of the stuff we learned here to this weekend."
With two races remaining before the 16-driver Chase field is set, a number of drivers will need to score a win in order to secure a post-season berth.
"I would say Atlanta is a better chance for us than Richmond," Stenhouse said. "We sat on the pole last year but started the race with our car way too tight. Hopefully, we can start with it a little bit closer this time. We obviously had some speed there and so I would say that would probably be our best shot out of the two. But we're definitely not giving up until we are done."