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News and Results | Point Standings | 2004 Schedule | 2004 Teams | 2003 Schedule and Results

 

Kenny Wallace Fastest as Brickyard 400 Testing Continues

Kenny Wallace
Kenny Wallace
INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, July 19, 2004 – 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 ‘90s and run Goodyear tests, back in ‘92.

“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.

Testing continues from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (EST, local time) July 20, the final day of private testing at IMS, with a one-hour lunch break from noon-1 p.m. The public can view testing free of charge from the South Terrace grandstands, located inside the track between Turns 1 and 2.

Elliott shares Indy-style memories: 2002 Brickyard 400 winner Bill Elliott shared memories during Brickyard 400 testing July 19 of the day he drove an Indy-style open-wheel race car prepared by Chip Ganassi’s team. It was at Michigan International Speedway in the early 1990s, when NASCAR entrants in the International Race of Champions (IROC) series were on hand for a PPG Indy Car World Series race as part of a double-header.

Elliott was asked if he ever had ambitions to run the Indianapolis 500.

“Well, there was probably always a thought, but to me you need more time in those things and as caught up as you are in the Cup stuff for so many years, it’s hard to do to do everything you need to do to come here and split your season,” he said. “Indy was always something that was in the back of your mind, but I never grew up in open-wheel cars, and it’s quite a bit different.

“But I really enjoyed it (driving an open-wheel car). I had a good time. Chip Ganassi gave me an opportunity to run those things. I went out and ran around a little bit to have fun. I told Al Unser Jr. that I just wished I had more time to go play where you could go and really help understand the car because just to get in and run five or six laps, you really don’t have an understanding of what the car’s all about or what it’s capable of doing.”

Elliott may have sold himself short. His third lap in the Indy-style car was faster than 212 mph.

 

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