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Johnson Leads Rain-Shortened Indy Test

 

INDIANAPOLIS (July 16, 2003) – A series of morning and afternoon rain showers caused NASCAR Winston Cup Series testing to last only 37 minutes on Tuesday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Twenty-three drivers turned a total of 175 laps in a little more than a 30 minutes with Jimmie Johnson posting the top speed of 182.960 mph in the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet.

Joe Nemechek was fourth in the No. 25 UAW-Delphi Chevy, while Terry Labonte was 10th in the No. 5 Kellogg’s /got milk? Monte Carlo, putting all three Hendrick Motorsports teams in the top 10 for the second consecutive day.

Johnson’s speed was less than 1 mph off the NASCAR track record set during qualifying for the 2002 Brickyard 400.

While cool and overcast conditions were ideal for speed, Johnson said they likely will not be helpful when teams return for Brickyard 400 qualifying in August.

“I’ve only raced here last year, and with that in mind, conditions on race day were so hot and so slick that a day like today that’s cool and overcast, we won’t learn a lot to transfer over,” Johnson said. “We worked on qualifying setup today. We qualify in the morning on race weekend, so there might be something that we learn.

“It’s getting me laps. We’re picking up data, so we are getting some information. I wish it was hot and really slick.”

Due to the limited track time, NASCAR officials ruled that teams could have the option to test on July 16 to complete a full day of testing.

Johnson’s crew chief, Chad Knaus, said the greatest challenge facing teams now is to complete the information-gathering process at Indianapolis, get back to their Charlotte-area shops and hit the road once again for the New England 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway on July 20.

“The guys are getting tired,” Knaus said. “They’ve been on the road for eight days almost. They’d like to see their wives and girlfriends and do some laundry.

“There’s not really a whole we can do about it, so we’ll come in tomorrow, probably run until about noon, hop on the airplane and go home.”

Knaus said the decision to stay an extra day is an easy one, given that NASCAR allows each team only five tests per year.

“I would do the same thing at (any track),” he said. “Yes, it’s Indianapolis, and yes, it’s a bigger race, but when you look at the big picture, it’s still 180 points. If you don’t take advantage of every opportunity, you’re done.”

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