Atlanta Motor Speedway president Ed Clark is urging NASCAR to rethink their current restrictions on test sites, a heightened point in his discussions with media at Tuesday's Goodyear tire test at AMS.
While meeting with media at lunch during testing by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company for the October 26 Pep Boys Auto 500, Clark discussed with drivers and media members the positive impacts of amending NASCAR's restrictions on testing and emphasized the importance of such a change.
"I've been petitioning NASCAR all this year to allow the teams to test at the actual NASCAR-sanctioned tracks they will be competing on," said Clark. "Historically, we've always had lots of testing and multiple teams coming to Atlanta to test and the current restrictions eliminated that.
"The current policy was constructed in an effort to cut testing costs and I salute NASCAR in their efforts to do so. But, many teams are not cutting back on testing," Clark continued. "Kyle [Busch] talked about being in Iowa, then Milwaukee and somewhere else after. It makes sense to me that, since teams are going to test anyway, they be allowed to test on Sprint Cup tracks where they will be racing."
In 2005, NASCAR announced restrictions limiting teams to only NASCAR-authorized testing sessions at a select number of tracks on the Sprint Cup circuit. As a result, unrestricted-private testing has thrived at non-NASCAR Sprint Cup sanctioned tracks and many drivers, pundits and fans have openly questioned if cost savings have resulted from the restrictions.
"I know NASCAR is looking at this and they've had conversations with some teams, but I wanted to take the time to encourage them to take a hard look at this," Clark added. "I think, most importantly, it's going to make the racing better and it's certainly going to help the teams develop their new car set-ups for the track they will be racing on. I'm simply encouraging NASCAR to do this for the benefit of the teams, tracks and the fans who attend the events."
Drivers at the two-day Goodyear tire test seemed to share Clark's sentiments on the restricted testing rules outlined by NASCAR.
"I love the idea of getting back to testing on the tracks we race on, but there is a limit," said Scott Riggs, the 2002 NASCAR Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year. "If your organization can handle testing every single week, you're going to have, basically, a Sprint Cup team and a half out there testing every week and that's what some teams do now. I think we need to get back to a happy medium where you have 20 days across the year at tracks that we race on. I think that would be a great."
While the decision to restrict testing at NASCAR tracks was made in the interest of maintaining a competitive balance between the most successful teams and those with less funding, Riggs' comments reflect the reality of the situation - well-funded teams will test as much as possible in order to win, no matter at what location.
"Financially, it's tough for our team and we've only gone to the open NASCAR tests. We've been to only five or six of them and that's all we've done as a Yates Racing team," said Travis Kvapil, reflecting on testing difficulties for mid-level teams. "We haven't gone to Kentucky, Milwaukee and Nashville every week like a lot of these teams do. Obviously, without a full-time sponsorship, we can't afford to do that."
Clark contends that by allowing a limited number of days testing on NASCAR-sanctioned tracks, testing could be much more valuable for mid-tier teams, a suggestion Kvapil agrees with.
"I would love to go to the tracks we actually race at and test on the tire we actually race on. When we have the opportunity to go test, it would be that much more valuable," said Kvapil, the 2003 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion. "Hopefully, and I believe we will be able to soon, we can go to the actual tracks on the actual tires and test."
Media interested in discussing the current NASCAR restrictions on testing at NASCAR-sanctioned tracks with Atlanta Motor Speedway president Ed Clark should contact Marcy Scott, director of marketing and promotion, at 770-946-3951 or at . For more information on Atlanta Motor Speedway and the upcoming Pep Boys Auto 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race, visit atlantamotorspeedway.com.