For a quartet of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers, the best part of this week's Goodyear tire test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway was simply being back behind the wheel.
Sprint Cup Series drivers Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski and Matt Kenseth were in good spirits while speaking to a group of media during a break in testing tires at the 1.5-mile superspeedway on Wednesday.
"I was in full offseason mode, and then after that first run yesterday, there's no other way to get that smile," Johnson said. "It's fun to get on the track, knock the rust off and get ready for the season. It's a nice way to remember how cool my job is and have some fun."
Busch was happy to be back in his hometown and enjoys testing at LVMS.
"Most importantly, it's the weather," the 2004 Sprint Cup Series champion said of the benefits of testing in Las Vegas. "It's a track we race only once a year, so the notes don't get as defined, and we always love to go to tracks we have minimal data from."
Keselowski spent a good amount of time studying data on laptops in the garage with his crew chief, Paul Wolfe, and his team's engineers.
"We're always learning something, and every track has a different tire," said Keselowski, the 2012 Sprint Cup Series champion. "Those tires are constructed to combat a number of variables, whether it's track surface, the rules package on the cars, the speeds or the downforce. It doesn't necessarily carry off to anywhere else, but hopefully we can learn something about the car as we're assisting Goodyear to be better everywhere else."
Kenseth and his peers are ready for the 2016 season to begin.
"We're still a few weeks away, but obviously last year ended on a strong note," he said. "We're looking forward to getting the season started, and every race is a big one. You want to come out strong and get some wins early in the year, and then hopefully you're strong at the right time at the end of the year."
All of the Sprint Cup Series teams will have a full day of open testing on Thursday, March 3, to kick off LVMS' 2016 NASCAR Weekend. The big racing weekend continues on Friday, March 4, with Stratosphere Pole Day, the Boyd Gaming 300 Xfinity Series race on Saturday, March 5, and the Kobalt 400 on Sunday, March 6. Tickets are still available at www.lvms.com or by calling 1-800-644-4444.