NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points leader Kyle Busch, along with Cup Series drivers Travis Kvapil and Scott Riggs, each participated in the second and final day of tire testing by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
In an effort by Goodyear to produce the best tire for the Pep Boys Auto 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in October, the three drivers, their crews and Goodyear engineers spent two days testing a variety of builds, compounds and configurations on AMS' 1.54-mile quad-oval track.
"The way the surface is here [at Atlanta], it's always pretty hard to find a tire that will cooperate with it," said Busch, who has seven wins this year. "The tire was just too hard here in the spring and we didn't even really wear on the tire at all.
"With the softer compounds Goodyear has been trying to put on us today, we've been able to get a little better grip," Busch continued. "We've been getting a better feel out of the car. We're working to find the best combination of tire with car setup where you can just go out there and try to tune the race car a little better."
Busch, testing in a fully-decaled No. 18 M&M's Toyota, posted a best lap of 180.662 mph (30.69 seconds). Riggs was the fastest of the group in his red and gray primer Chevrolet with a Haas CNC logo on the hood as he reached 180.994 mph (30.63 seconds), while Kvapil's primer white, decal-free Yates Racing Ford hit 175.101 mph (31.66 seconds).
"Goodyear brought a lot of different tires and compounds, and we all pretty much found one tire we liked," said Riggs, the 2002 NASCAR Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year. "It was really manageable, consistent and predictable on a long run. It was something you could actually drive and manipulate to make the car get around the race track. We all seemed to be in agreement that there was at least one tire we were all happy with."
Both Atlanta Motor Speedway president Ed Clark and 2003 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Travis Kvapil agree the Goodyear test had exciting results.
"All the drivers love coming here to race because you can run all over the track, but March was not that kind of race," Clark said. "I'm encouraged because here we are at noon on the second day of the test and Goodyear says they've accomplished their goal. I feel certain from the composure the Goodyear engineers had this morning that they found what they need to allow the drivers to come in here and run side-by-side and be competitive all day long in the Pep Boys Auto 500."
Kvapil believes fans will see a marked improvement in the Goodyear tire for the Pep Boys Auto 500 compared to the spring race.
"There is definitely going to be a big difference in the fall race compared to the spring," explained Kvapil. "We've been working with a handful of different compounds and configuration of the tires to figure out what's going to promote better racing and give us drivers a better feel for the car.
"When we were here in March, the cars were really loose in the corner and we felt like we were sliding around," added Kvapil. "Since then, we've learned a lot about the new car and Goodyear has come back with three of four different combinations to try to give us a better feel for the car, better grip and a tire that's still going to last."
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 be obtained by calling (877) 9-AMS-TIX (877-926-7849) or by visiting www.atlantamotorspeedway.com
EDITOR'S NOTE: High-resolution images of Kyle Busch from the Goodyear tire test at Atlanta Motor Speedway to accompany this release, can be downloaded from: http://www.atlantamotorspeedway.com/media/press_photos/
Photos courtesy of Atlanta Motor Speedway