Polesitter Jeff Burton was the fastest driver in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Happy Hour practice Saturday afternoon at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, before Sunday's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. His time was 51.370/175.200 mph.

All 43 drivers were on track.

RCR had front row at BY400 - Burton and Bowyer. Childress has two BY400 victories already with two different drivers and a Burton victory would be three for three.

Burton said he went to RCR to restart his career, not end his career.

Burton's only problem was tyre wear. Today it was the Left Front tyre, which wore out. He said, "Each session the tyre wear will continue to improve but it's not fixed yet."

Kurt Busch hit the turn one SAFER Barrier in the first afternoon Practice session, while running fourth fastest at 175.589 mph. It caused a Red Flag. He was evaluated and released from the Clarian Emergency Medical Centre. His car sustained moderate right side damage - front right wheel bent out 45 degrees, too severe to repair for the race.

Afterwards Busch said, "We were on a seven-lap run with scuff tyres and just blew a left front tyre. Obviously, it was unexpected. We'll pull out our backup and give it our best effort. Everything is OK. It seemed like I had plenty of time to brace myself, so we'll bounce back from this. We'll be OK." Busch will have to start last due to the car change.

Rookie Clint Bowyer experienced a flat left-front tyre in Happy Hour, and he pulled into the Pit Exit Lane. He said he "might have ran over something down on the bottom of the track or something, because we ran that same air pressure in the tests a couple weeks ago. You know, first practice all the way through, 10 laps into that practice and just all of a sudden, you know, it happened. Just luckily for us, thank God it happened where it did, coming off of Turn Four instead of going into 1 like it did Kurt."

Goodyear Tyre General Manager of Global Race Tyres said, "Through the final practice session on Saturday, Goodyear engineers reported tyre wear is improving. As with all "green" track surfaces, we see rather high tyre wear that will slow down as the track rubbers in. That is the case here this weekend.

"Also, a number of cars were running with their left front tyres under the recommended air pressure inflation. Some teams experienced classic overdeflection failures as a result. Our engineers say the solution to the situation is for the teams to run higher air pressure in their left front tyres.

"Based on our analysis, in the incident during today's practice it appeared the left front tire on Kurt Busch's car had been underinflated. There could have been a puncture. We are not sure if it was low air pressure or a puncture that caused the tyre to go down."

Goodyear recommends air pressure be 18 psi in the Left Front, 17 psi in the Left Rear, 37 psi in the Right Front, and 33 psi in the Right Rear.

It is only my untrained eye but it seemed to me that IMS was more crowded and congested Friday than Saturday. It wasn't that difficult getting into the track, and the crowds certainly seemed to have thinned out or spread out considerably. Friday the paddock area around the garages and pit lane was chockablock with NASCAR fans, all waiting for a chance to see or visit their driver. There were all kinds of Photo Ops and driver autograph sessions, show and tell that drew the fans to the garage area. Saturday it was easier to walk around as the fans spread out over the large acreage in the warm sunshine.

During Qualifying the temperature was in the eighties, humidity was 35 percent and the winds 20 mph. By the time Happy Hour was over, some scattered clouds had rolled in and the wind picked up.


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