NASCAR drivers test new tire at Indy, hit 214 mph


A group of NASCAR drivers visited the Indianapolis Motor Speedway yesterday to test out a new environmentally-friendly tire, and while the speeds they achieved couldn’t quite match up to the ones posted by their IndyCar brethren every May, they were still able to go well over the 200 mph mark as they zoomed along the backstretch.

“[My team] said 214 [mph] and I said, ‘My gosh, it really is fast,'” said Jeff Gordon (pictured), a four-time winner of the Speedway’s Brickyard 400, to the Associated Press. However, despite good grip levels on the Gen-6 machines, the top speeds were short-lived as the temperatures began to climb; according to the AP’s Michael Marot, Trevor Bayne’s car lost about one second per lap on the new tire as the day got hotter.

“You want balance so the car enters the turn comfortably and that’s what we had,” Gordon continued. “But it was definitely wearing a little more than we wanted it to.”

Gordon also expressed his support for the addition of lights to the Speedway, presumably hoping for a night-time edition of the Brickyard 400 to combat the notorious summer heat in Indiana (this year’s race is slated for July 28, in the afternoon). The state’s General Assembly recently approved legislation that will help fund future improvements to the legendary race course, and a lighting system is amongst the projects being considered. The bill must still be signed by Indiana governor Mike Pence.

“I remember the very first announcement of lights at a track,” Gordon told The Indianapolis Star’s Curt Cavin about Cup events at Daytona and Charlotte. “I thought there was no way that we could do that. Now we’re at Darlington at night, Charlotte at night, Bristol at night, Daytona at night, and the lighting is so amazing that I actually think you can see better [driving] at night, the racing is more exciting, the track conditions are certainly really, really good.”

Two-time Brickyard winner Tony Stewart, Mark Martin, Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski also took part in the testing, which continues this afternoon until 5 p.m. ET.

Ferrari teammates Vettel and Raikkonen fastest in rainy final practice at Australian GP

Getty Images
Leave a comment

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen went one-two in the final practice session ahead of qualifying at the water-logged Australian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Vettel set a best-lap time of 1 minute, 26.067 seconds, more than 2.4 seconds faster than his teammate in second.

Both Ferrari drivers switched from their intermediate tires to the super-fast, ultra-soft tires for the final few laps of the session, testing conditions on the track after a day-long downpour left it slick and filled with small puddles.

Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton did not opt to try out their soft tires, sticking to the intermediates for the entire session. They had the seventh- and eighth-fastest times, after topping the leaderboard in practice in dry conditions on Friday.

The heavy rains subsided by early afternoon, allowing the track to rapidly dry during the third practice session and making conditions safe for drivers to test their soft tires.

Still, only a few drivers completed a timed lap with the softer compounds, with Mercedes, Red Bull and most of the others staying with their intermediates.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson had the third-fastest time of the session on ultrasoft tires, followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on intermediates.

Hamilton remains the favorite to capture his fifth straight pole position at the Australian Grand Prix in qualifying later Saturday. He had the fastest laps on ultrasoft tires in the two practice sessions on Friday, though Verstappen was right behind him.

Verstappen and Vettel both slid on the slick track early in the third practice session, but maintained control and completed their runs without incident.

Verstappen’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, had the sixth-fastest time of the session. The Australian’s chances of winning his fifth career Grand Prix on his home track in Melbourne took a hit late Friday when he was assessed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

The Australian driver was penalized for driving too fast under red-flag conditions during Friday’s second practice session because of debris on the track.