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Cup drivers test at new-look Phoenix

"It's obviously very smooth," agreed Gordon. "Just trying to find the grip took a while, to get the track cleaned off, get the rubber laid in. Once we did, started having fun and enjoyed making the laps out there.

"It's going to be a narrow groove the first couple times we're here and it's going to take time and guys are going to have to push that edge, keep cleaning it off as we go," continued Gordon. "We're not racing [here today,] we're not getting side-by-side with other cars. So naturally you're just going to see one groove built in there. It is a very narrow groove right now. I hopped outside of it on more than one occasion today, and it was exciting to say the least."

"I think by the time we race here, it might not be two grooves, but it'll at least be a lane and a half," Smith told reporters.

"It takes time for these newly paved tracks and that's why we are here testing," agreed Pemberton. "The teams are experimenting with a lot of different options and that's what they need to do."

"We have to get laps on the race track, rubber on the race track and get used to it," said David Reutimann. "I think the more laps we get on it, the better it'll be - but right now it's pretty scary!"

"You know, all I can say is that my impressions, the day started off really, really edgy and uncomfortable, an eye-opening wow experience of 'Oh my gosh, what's happened here?'" agreed Gordon. "As we got halfway through the day, the grip started coming ... Then I started having more fun, enjoying the laps I was making, the challenges the track had."

Phoenix International Raceway hosts the penultimate race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup season on November 13, and the race here on this new surface could prove a massive wildcard in the outcome of the 2011 Chase.

Phoenix previously hosted a Goodyear tyre development test at the end of August for Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch and Kyle Busch, but this is the first time that the track has been open to the majority of the teams and drivers.

In addition to familiarising teams with the new surface and layout of Phoenix, the two-day test session is also intended to allow them to undertake the latest stage of development of next year's Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) cars, scheduled to be introduced into Sprint Cup competition from the first race of 2012 - the Daytona 500.

The first test of EFI on restrictor plate circuits is scheduled to take place at Talladega Superspeedway on October 20, three days ahead of the Good Sam Club 500 Cup race.




Related Pictures

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Mike Skinner, driving a Michael Waltrip Racing Electronic Fuel Injection NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car, pulls onto pit road during a test on Tuesday at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Ariz. [Picture Credit: Norm Hall/Getty Images for NASCAR]
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers David Ragan and Joey Logano test the repaved and reconfigured Phoenix International Raceway on Tuesday in Avondale, Ariz. [Picture Credit: Norm Hall/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Robin Pemberton, NASCAR Vice President of Competition, (R) and Dave Handy, NASCAR Tyre Engineer, walk the new backstretch at Phoenix International Raceway on Tuesday in Avondale, Ariz. [Picture Credit: Norm Hall/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, finishes in ninth place racing with Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmer`s Insurance Chevrolet SS who finishes in eleventh place Sunday, March 29, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #17 Fastenal Ford, is involved in an on-track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 29, 2015 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, qualifies for fourth position Friday, March 27, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. Gordon is 22nd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
A view of a decal placed on the #14 Code 3 Associates / Mobil 1 Chevrolet, driven by Tony Stewart (not pictured), during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 27, 2015 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 21, 2015 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Jeff Gross/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brian Vickers, driver of the #55 Aaron`s Dream Machine Toyota, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series CampingWorld.com 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on March 13, 2015 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS celebrates his victory Sunday, March 15, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Speedway in Phoenix, Arizona. This is Harvick`s fourth straight win at Phoenix. (Photo by Gregg Ellman/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS races to victory Sunday, March 15, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Speedway in Phoenix, Arizona. This is Harvick`s fourth straight win at Phoenix. (Photo by Gregg Ellman/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS stops in his pit before victory Sunday, March 15, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Speedway in Phoenix, Arizona. This is Harvick`s fourth straight win at Phoenix. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS crosses the finish line Sunday, March 15, 2015 winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Speedway in Phoenix, Arizona. This is Harvick`s fourth straight win at Phoenix. This is Harvick`s fourth straight win at Phoenix. (Photo by Gregg Ellman/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Brian Vickers, driver of the #55 Aaron`s Dream Machine Toyota, hits the wall early in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series CampingWorld.com 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on March 15, 2015 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 NATIONWIDE Chevrolet, is involved in an on-track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series CampingWorld.com 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on March 15, 2015 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s/ Budweiser Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series CampingWorld.com 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on March 15, 2015 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s/ Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates after winning after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series CampingWorld.com 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on March 15, 2015 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s/ Budweiser Chevrolet, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series CampingWorld.com 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on March 15, 2015 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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