Last month, NASCAR announced a ban on testing for the 2009 season. The only exceptions to that testing ban are tests conducted by Goodyear to examine tire wear and help select the best tire for certain speedways.
On Wednesday and Thursday, four NASCAR drivers visited our 1.5-mile superspeedway on behalf of Goodyear to test tires for the March 1 Shelby 427. It was a nice mix of young and old, superstars and newcomers. Carl Edwards, who won the Sprint Cup event at LVMS in March, represented the Ford teams.. Veteran racer Mark Martin, who has joined Hendrick Motorsports for the 2009 season, was testing in his new Chevrolet. NASCAR young gun Brian Vickers came with his Toyota team, and David Stremme was piloting his Dodge. Stremme will be in his first year with Penske Racing. He replaced Ryan Newman who has joined Tony Stewart's new team.
The test was uneventful - which is a good thing when testing. In talking with each of the four drivers at some point during the test, they all expressed great optimism about the tires they were testing and the prospects for a very competitive race here on March 1.
Prior to the 2007 event, the speedway was repaved and the banking was increased from 12 degrees to 20 degrees in the turns. There have been three Camping World Truck Series races, two Sprint Cup races, two Nationwide races, numerous tests and hundreds of days of driving schools on the track since the repaving. The more laps, the better, so we are all looking forward to one of the best race weekends ever starting Feb. 27.
Goodyear should be commended for its work in trying to bring a good tire to the event to make the race even better. The tire manufacturer picked a perfect mix of drivers for this test as well.
Martin won the inaugural Cup race here in 1998 and won this year's Nationwide Series race driving for Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s JR Motorsports team. In fact, Martin, Jeff Burton and three-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson are the only drivers to win on both the old track and the new one.
Edwards is the defending champion of the race, and is one of four different drivers to win a Cup race at LVMS driving for Jack Roush. Stremme has an amazing Nationwide Series record at LVMS. In four starts, he has never finished worse than fifth. He also sat on the outside pole for the Cup race in 2007. Vickers has competed in four Cup races and three Nationwide Series races here.
Now that the testing is done, it's time for Goodyear and the teams to return to their respective headquarters and process the data. It's also time for everyone to take a break and enjoy the holiday season. The NASCAR Weekend here in Las Vegas is less than three months away, so if you haven't made plans to be here, it's time to start.