The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company has kick-started it preparations for Atlanta's first NASCAR Sprint Cup night race - the Pep Boys Auto 500 in September – by calling on four top drivers for a two-day test at the circuit.
Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, Jamie McMurray and Tony Stewart are the drivers chosen to take part in the two-day test, which started yesterday [Monday] and will conclude today, as the tyre company seeks to find the best tyre to use for the night race.
“It's definitely tough to prepare a tire for a night race [in Atlanta], because there are unknowns going into a night race – how fast is the track going to be and where do we need to have many of our settings,” said Busch, who won the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway back in March. “I felt like the tire was just fine in March, obviously. With the way our car handled and we drove it into Victory Lane, I wouldn't change a thing.
“But, we've got a night race now, so we're here working with Goodyear to find something better and make the racing more exciting.”
All four participating drivers have higher-average finishes in night races than afternoon races in 2009.
In five-2009 night races, Stewart has the highest average night race finish of the four at 2.4, compared to his season average of 7.6. Of the remaining drivers, Hamlin has an average night race finish of 8.2 (13.4 for the entire season), Busch has an average of 10.6 (12.5) and McMurray's average night race finish is 14.6 (20.2).