Goodyear, Nextel Cup drivers test tires at

Las Vegas Motor Speedway


By Janae Melvin


The Chase for Championship hasn¿t officially started for the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series and already some teams ¿ and Goodyear ¿ are looking ahead to next year.

Several Nextel Cup drivers spent Tuesday and Wednesday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway testing tires for Goodyear Racing. Goodyear was hoping to get an idea of how the new rear spoiler on the new Dodge and Ford stock cars would affect the tires in the 2005 season.

¿Vegas is an intermediate situation in terms of speed, importance of aerodynamics and bank angle,¿ said Rick Campbell, Goodyear Racing Team Leader for NASCAR Racing.  ¿There are going to be some challenges in finding out how tracks need to be grouped and what tires need to be run at the different race tracks.  We are seeing what happens and what changes need to be made.¿

Ryan Newman, Brendan Gaughan, Greg Biffle and Casey Mears were all on the track testing out the new tires and trying to find the right set up for their own cars, as well as for their teammates.

¿Goodyear has things they want to try,¿ said Gaughan, who was testing in Newman¿s Alltel Dodge on Wednesday.  ¿They get in and tell me to do 30 laps, or 10 laps, or five laps and I go do them and give them my feedback.  Hopefully my feedback is as good as Ryan¿s and adds to Ryan¿s.  He¿s in the Chase for the Championship and while this isn¿t a test for the Chase, any information will help.¿

The Las Vegas test was one of several Goodyear has planned in advance of the 2005 season.  It was also one of the first times the new 2005 Dodge Charger has taken to the track in preparation for next season.  Mears, who drives the Target Dodge for Chip

Ganassi Racing, and his crew were anxious to see how the tires and spoiler would react.

¿We just wanted to get an idea of what to expect for next year,¿ Mears said.  ¿Goodyear is trying to find the tire to bring back for next year for that package.¿

The new Charger not only has the smaller rear spoiler but also a new nose to add to the changes in the aerodynamics of the car.

¿The car is running good,¿ Mears said.  ¿We still have a lot of developmental work to do.  We just found a decent balance so we can give Goodyear some good feedback.  It feels good to get a little bit of miles on it and see what we have to expect but at the same time we didn¿t have a lot of chances to just tune on the car and make the car better. We¿re just trying to get a consistent line so we can give Goodyear some consistent feedback.¿

The drivers all felt as if the cars were running well on the tires and were looking forward to seeing how the final package comes out.  Goodyear still has a little work to do before the exact results from the test are known.

¿This is really our first attempt at looking at this rear spoiler at a high-speed track,¿ Campbell said.  ¿There will be more.  We got a lot of good information and now we have to go back, sift through it, analyze it and see what it all means.¿