Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Marcos Ambrose and Trevor Bayne were the drivers taking part in the second and final day of a Goodyear Tire Test on Wednesday at Atlanta Motor Speedway as Goodyear works to develop the tire compound that will be provided to race teams during the AdvoCare 500 NASCAR night race weekend Aug. 30- Sept 1, 2013. The test session saw cars lay down laps at a high rate of speed on the 1.-54-mile quad-oval.
The AdvoCare 500 will be the first race at Atlanta Motor Speedway with NASCAR's new Gen-6 cars in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and this week's tire test was the first time that the Gen-6 was on the track at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
"I think based on what we've seen is that the new car is definitely faster. I don't know if it is track-record fast, because that was set along time ago," said Rick Campbell, NASCAR Project Manager for Goodyear. "It's certainly way faster than last year's car and I expect the speeds to be significantly faster than last year."
Multiple tracks have seen qualifying records broken this season in the Gen-6 car, and both drivers expect lap times on Labor Day Weekend to be faster than in the past. Since Atlanta Motor Speedway began hosting its NASCAR event on Labor Day Weekend, the fastest qualifying time has been Denny Hamlin in 2010 at 187.38 mph. Atlanta Motor Speedway's qualifying record is 197.478 mph, set by Geoffrey Bodine in 1997.
"From what I heard earlier, these times are as fast as qualifying times were last year, and we're just in race trim," Bayne said.
Earnhardt Jr. posted the fastest lap of the day at a speed of 188.69 mph.
Earnhardt Jr. expects similar results on Labor Day Weekend when it comes to the speed charts.
"It's been faster everywhere else, so it'll probably be faster here," he said.
Earnhardt Jr. and Bayne were substituting for respective teammates, Kasey Kahne and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., who took part in the test on Tuesday and flew back to Charlotte to attend the funeral of Jason Leffler. Earnhardt Jr. and Bayne were driving test cars driven by Kahne and Stenhouse on Tuesday.
"This is a good racetrack, it has a lot of grip. I think it's going to be a pretty good race, it's always a good race," Earnhardt Jr. said "This place has a lot of room, you can run the top and the bottom."
Atlanta Motor Speedway's worn surface is known across NASCAR for causing greater tire wear than at other facilities. That is a welcome sight, according to Bayne.
"Any time you get a tire that wears, it makes for better racing and tires fall off," Bayne said. "but that's going to happen no matter what tire you have here at Atlanta with how worn out this place is."
NASCAR night racing returns to Atlanta Motor Speedway on Labor Day Weekend for the AdvoCare 500 race weekend. Tickets are on sale now and adult tickets start at just $39. Student tickets cost just $19. Other specials are available while supplies last. For more information, visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com or call the AMS Ticket Office at (877) 9-AMS-TIX or (770) 946-4211.