During day two of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company tire testing at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Ryan Newman and Jamie McMurray conveyed to the media that the test provides a competitive advantage approaching the track's Labor Day NASCAR night racing weekend as the drivers vie for vital points entering the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Newman and McMurray currently sit 15th and 18th respectively in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points standings and each believes the test provides an advantage.
"You're really fortunate when you get to do the tire test and that's why teams fight to get to come here and do this, because you get an hour or two each day to do what you want to do and try and make your car faster," said McMurray.
Newman, tied for the track's pole record with seven, knows Atlanta's race date two-events prior to the cutoff for the 12-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup makes the event critical to secure a position in the Chase.
"Where we are at in points and where this race lies in the schedule, it is definitely advantageous for us to be here," said Newman. "We're trying to make the best of this Goodyear tire test to get the US Army Chevrolet in that Chase."
In addition to the commenting on the personal benefits of the test while meeting with media members, each driver also praised Goodyear for the quality of the tires under evaluation.
"From what I understand, Goodyear wants to stay pretty close to what we raced in March and just try to get the durability a little bit better in the tire," said McMurray. "Yesterday we made 10-lap runs and they picked the tires they thought had the most promise. Last night we made some 30-lap runs and then made a few 25-lap runs this morning. As the driver of that, you don't know what they are putting on [the car] and you just give the feedback of how the car feels. We haven't had any tire issues."
Newman offered insight into how drivers communicate with the tire company during such a test.
"As soon as you get done with a run they take the temperatures and you give them your feedback on that tire and that run or that set at the same time," explained Newman. "It happens really quick. You go back and make a change –they have a predetermined list and sometimes that lists a change according to what was experienced on a previous run."
Speeds have been impressive during the test, with McMurray approaching qualifying-lap speeds during tire testing.
"We ran lap times close to qualifying – we ran 29.9s or 30 flats yesterday – and as soon as the track rubbered up it slowed down," said McMurray. "I felt like by the end of last night we got some rubber on the race track. It was closer to what we will have for the race but it's really hard to simulate 43 cars on the track for two days and the amount rubber that puts down. But the track does seem to be rubbering up well."
The biggest Labor Day party in the USA is at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Labor Day weekend, as the NASCAR Sprint Cup stars head to the high banks for night racing on Sept. 4 and 5. For more information or to purchase tickets, call (770) 946-4211, (877) 9-AMS-TIX, or visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.