Auto Racing: Harvick, Biffle among drivers testing track at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet
By Tina Akouris email@example.com May 8, 2013 8:12PM
Kevin Harvick talks at the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 10, 2013 2:20PM
Six NASCAR drivers traveled to Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet for a Goodyear tire test Wednesday — the first one in the Speedway’s 12-year history — but perhaps the guy everyone wanted to talk to opted to stay in the garage area.
Ryan Newman took a pass on meeting with the media, a day after NASCAR decided not to fine the South Bend, Ind., native for his negative comments directed at NASCAR during Sunday’s race at Talladega.
But Kevin Harvick and Greg Biffle did give their take on what happened during the multicar wreck, which saw Kurt Busch’s car go airborne and land on top of Newman’s No. 39 Chevrolet.
The race also was marred by a three-hour rain delay, and when the race finally restarted it was getting dark.
“Just because there’s one driver that wrecked and he was frustrated and criticized it and blamed it on his bad finish is not fair to read into the whole (race),” said Harvick, who is 12th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup points standings.
“There’s a lot of opinions on how you should and shouldn’t do things, and none of us are making those calls.”
Biffle’s day at Talladega ended early when he was caught up in the first big wreck.
“It’s been like this forever (with restrictor-plate racing) and we do need to work on keeping the cars on the ground and not flying up in the air when you get to 190 or 200 miles an hour,” Biffle said. “There’s a lot of safety issues with that.”
Newman was unhurt after the spectacular crash. After the race, Newman was highly critical of NASCAR’s safety standards at the Alabama track — a restrictor-plate track. But NASCAR announced Tuesday that Newman wouldn’t be fined.
It was the second time in four years that another car has landed on top of Newman’s. His previous brush with an airborne car also came at Talladega, in April 2009, when Carl Edwards went flying and slammed into the catch-fence. Edwards’ car landed on Newman’s and tore off the hood.
NASCAR’s policy is to fine drivers if they are critical of the new Generation-6 car and the on-track product. In March, Denny Hamlin was fined $25,000 for saying he didn’t like the new Gen-6 car and was having problems getting used to it.
But Harvick was complementary of the new car.
“I think, as expected, everyone knew the cars would be faster,” Harvick said. “Usually at the racetracks that are a little wore out, like this one — which is a good thing — the speeds have come back.”
Harvick said the biggest thing about the tire tests are for Goodyear engineers to figure out what tires work well at that specific track. Drivers were doing longer runs on the track to test the tires’ wear.
“From a driver’s standpoint, it’s a lot of laps,” Harvick said. “I think (Goodyear) feels pretty comfortable with the tire they raced with here last year (in September). That tire seems to be pretty durable. They’re looking for something that is better and they use our cars to help their technology.”
And Biffle loves how the Chicagoland track has aged. He said the 11/2-mile oval is a rare sight in NASCAR.
“This is a ‘Last of the Mohicans’ kind of racetrack that hasn’t gotten repaved,” Biffle said. “It’s very unique, because there’s bumps and the pavement is wore out. It puts on really, really good racing.”
Joining Harvick, Newman and Biffle at the testing were Jamie McMurray, Kyle Busch and five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson.
The same six drivers also tested Tuesday.