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Rubber And Wings Tested At Atlanta

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, January 13 2010
Mark Martin takes test laps at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of Atlanta Motor Speedway)

Mark Martin takes test laps at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of Atlanta Motor Speedway)

Hampton, Ga. – There have been times in the past where top-rung Sprint Cup drivers openly admitted they hated testing. But with testing strictly limited nowadays, those sentiments seem to have softened.

The four drivers testing Goodyear tires at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Tuesday and Wednesday seemed happy to be back in the ol’ firesuits and turning laps at speed on the track.

Mark Martin, Carl Edwards and two Juniors – Martin Truex Jr. and Sam Hornish Jr. – seemed happy to be back at work after a brief winter break.

The latest tire test at AMS appears to more of a tweaking of the current compounds, which most drivers found favorable last year. That represents a major improvement over two years back when Tony Stewart led a chorus of complaints about the AMS tire compound selection.

During a lunch break on Wednesday, the drivers met briefly with the media, discussing a variety of topics, including the tires for AMS. Most of the session up to that point consisted of short runs using various compounds.

Longer, 30- to 40-lap runs were set for Wednesday afternoon so engineers could get an indication of the tire’s durability. The tests were done with wings on the rear of the cars even though NASCAR is contemplating going back to a more traditional blade spoiler.

“[Goodyear] has some stuff that grips better than the tires we ran here last fall,” Martin said. “That tire had great durability. They’re trying to find something that has that same durability and be a little bit more grip-friendly.”

One objective is finding a tire with those qualities that will work on AMS’ worn asphalt, a surface that most drivers love and one that lends itself to multiple racing grooves.

“With this pavement the way it is, the more grip they’re going to be able to find the better,” Martin said. “I think all drivers love the aged pavement to race on, but it’s a challenge when it comes to making grip. I think they’ve found some things that are an improvement.”

Carl Edwards, who got the first and third wins of his Cup career at AMS, said he’s not a bit picky when it comes to tire compounds at the Georgia track.

“I may be the wrong guy to bring here to tire test,” he said. “I really liked what Goodyear’s done here. Even those races where everybody was complaining about the tires, I thought it was really fun racing. The cars were really difficult to drive. As long as tires hold air I’m behind Goodyear.”

For Truex, the test was a chance to get some at-track time with his new crew at Michael Waltrip Racing and with his new crew chief Pat Tryson. His challenge is working out the communication, so the team knows what the car is doing and what he wants as far as adjustments to the car.

He said the difference for him is “having to be more vocal, having to explain what I’m talking about…..I have to be sure they know exactly what I’m saying about the race car.

“It’s good for us to get a jump start out here in a non-pressure situation.”

– Rick Minter can be reached at rminter@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, January 13 2010