Teams Complete Chicagoland Test

Austin Dillon

Austin Dillon ran all three rules packages and paced the afternoon session with a lap time of 29.497 seconds (183.069 mph). (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)

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JOLIET, Ill. - A number of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams completed a one-day open test session at Chicagoland Speedway on Wednesday.

The test followed-up a two-day Goodyear tire test that featured Dale Earnhardt Jr., Martin Truex Jr., Sam Hornish Jr. and JJ Yeley.

"We spent most of Monday working in our regular 2015 configuration," Hornish Jr. said. "Yesterday was spent mostly in the Kentucky setup. I did two runs with the Michigan-Indy option, but that was with the wheel force car."

Today's test session gave teams an option to run different configurations like in the tire test. But Earnhardt Jr. doesn't think the low-downforce rules package that was used at Kentucky will make an appearance at Chicagoland Speedway when NASCAR kicks off the Chase for the Sprint Cup...at least for this season.

"I don’t think they’ll run here," Earnhardt said. “We may run it here soon down the road. Coming here for a three-day test, we went through tires for Goodyear. They mandated that all the cars put that little spoiler on the second day. That told me they were thinking about running that low downforce here.

"And then we saw the tires tearing up, we tore up some right front tires. Martin (Truex Jr.) tore up one, I tore up one, the '9' tore up one, and when Goodyear sees that, the red flag comes out and you have to slow down and there’s just not enough time to really prepare for the right tire and get it on the car and get it ready for the Chase. I think we’ll run the 2015 current package that we’ve run all year here and who knows if we’ll have it next year."

Kyle Busch won the Kentucky race with the new rules package to lead a Joe Gibbs Racing charge in the top five. Although it's a 1.5-mile track like Kentucky, Chicagoland is a much different high-speed banked track.

"Carl Edwards is going to tell you to run that low downforce package everywhere. I think Kyle (Busch) is a big fan of it, as well," Earnhardt said. "I like it, too, but I’m not sure if you want to throw that kind of curve ball in the Chase. I think we need to learn more, we need to understand where we’re going with the tires, how to match the tires up a little better, and we just don’t want asterisks next to this program and this season."

While teams were on different agendas in the garage, Austin Dillon ran all three packages and paced the afternoon session with a lap time of 29.497 seconds (183.069 mph).

"We had a really fast car in the old style package," Dillon said. "I think it was the best for our team. I struggled a little bit with the high downforce package then we went to the low downforce. I think our regular package worked the best for us. It showed speed and it was fun.

Dillon tested the higher-drag package that will be used at both Indianapolis (July 26) and Michigan (Aug. 16), which includes a nine-inch spoiler and one-inch wicker bill, to gather data.

"We've got a lot of work to do on it because we haven’t had anything like that before," Dillon said. "We were really tight. We'll have to go home and get to work for sure."

Hornish also tested the Indy-Michigan package again today.

Denny Hamlin was second fastest in the afternoon (180.923 mph) with Earnhardt Jr. in third (180.626 mph).

Brad Keselowski, who is the defending winner at Chicagoland, was fourth quick in the afternoon with a lap time of 29.906 seconds (180.566 mph).

"You always want to get the first punch in the ring," Keselowski said. "That's what Chicago is, it's the first round of the battle and winning is kind of the first punch. We are looking for the same thing and that's what we are back here today trying to test and continuously develop our team, our cars to be as fast as we can and to execute when we come back here with such a critical race. "

Overall, 12 drivers participated in the open test. Truex Jr. did not return today following the tire test. Kurt Busch completed the most laps in the afternoon session, at 86. The only incident on the day came in the garage area when the battery in Kyle Larson's car caught fire and was quickly extinguished.

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