A trio of former NASCAR Rookie of the Year recipients including the current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points leader used a torrid summer day at Atlanta Motor Speedway to aid the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in testing tires for the upcoming Pep Boys Auto 500 race in late October.
Current Sprint Cup Series points leader and 2005 Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year Kyle Busch, along with Scott Riggs, the 2002 NASCAR Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year, and Travis Kvapil, the 2001 Craftsman Truck Series Rookie of the Year, hit the pavement to test combinations of tire compounds and set ups for Goodyear. With two full days of testing, Goodyear is working to ensure the ideal tire for October's race.
"Typically, Atlanta is one of those tracks where it's some of the best racing out on the circuit," said Kvapil, who won the 2003 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship. "With the tire testing we're doing and the development we've learned with the new car over the season, I'm sure the Atlanta race in the fall will be great like it always is."
Kvapil tested in a decal-free white-primer Ford and Riggs drove a red and gray primer Chevrolet emblazed with a Haas CNC Racing logo on the hood. Busch, whose victory in March's Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway was the first of seven on the season for the 23-year-old, ran his fully decorated No. 18 M&M's sponsored Toyota.
"I think it will be a lot better direction than what Goodyear had here in the spring. They came here and tried to be cautious with the tire," said Steve Addington, crew chief for the No. 18 team, referring to noted tire shortcomings during the Kobalt Tools 500. "Now, they've seen what they needed to see and that's the reason we're down here, to try to help them get the tire to where fans will see better racing.
"I think we'll be able to have side-by-side, competitive racing here in the fall, but the tire they had in the spring was just loose," Addington continued. "What we're trying to do right now is to run through some different tires builds and compounds for Goodyear and get to where we can race side-by-side here."
Testing continues tomorrow with all three drivers scheduled to participate.
"Tire testing is a lot different than if we were here regular testing and just trying to make the car go faster," said Kvapil. "In the morning, we make a few runs trying to get the car stable and consistent, and in the afternoon we go through different tires, compounds and combinations to give the Goodyear folks some data so we can have a great time and a great race when we come back."
Atlanta Motor Speedway vice president of events Brandon Hutchison was encouraged by the first day's testing.
"It was good to see the cars back at it," said Hutchison. "I'm convinced Goodyear is committed to producing a tire combination that will give Atlanta some of the best racing we've seen in a long time."
NASCAR's elite drivers will attempt to tame the blistering speeds of Atlanta Motor Speedway during the Pep Boys Auto 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on October 26. Great seats are available and can obtained by calling (877) 9-AMS-TIX (877-926-7849) or by visiting www.atlantamotorspeedway.com