The Chrome Horn News


Lap of 12.966 seconds has him on pole for season-opening Tucson 200

    Tim Brown became the first driver in Bowman Gray Stadium history to turn a qualifying lap of less than 13 seconds yesterday.
    Brown broke the track record, which he set in 2003, with a lap of 12.966 seconds (69.4 mph) on the quarter-mile track and wrapped up the pole position for tonight's season-opening Tucson 200.
    Burt Myers, who won last year's Tucson 200 and went on to a season championship, registered a lap of 13.061 seconds — which was also faster than the previous record of 13.069. He will start on the outside of the front row for tonight's 200-lap race.
    The previous record was set on a newly paved track. Yesterday's record was as result of tires with a softer compound that drivers in the featured Modified Division will use. "We knew they were going to be good," Brown said of the softer tires, which provide better traction. "We mocked up a qualifying run about 30 minutes before the real thing and ran a (13.02) and I was like, man, these have a lot of grip."
    The new softer tire is faster, as expected. The unanswered question is if they'll hold up for 200 laps. "There's still some concern but everybody's on the same tire," said Brown, a six-time stadium champion. "If my tires burn off then the next man's tires are going to burn off. Then it will be a pit-stop battle. But the things are fun to drive with this much grip, I'm telling you…. You can throw it in the corner as much as your nerve will let you."
    Brown said that if he had the tires five years ago on fresh pavement he no doubt would have turned a lap with a speed of better than 70 mph, which is an impressive mark on a track with short straightaways and tight corners.
    Junior Miller said before qualifying yesterday that a new record might be set. He was one of a few drivers that had practiced on the new tires and said that he was turning laps about a half-second faster than on last year's tires. "They don't seem that much softer but they feel a lot better," Miller said.
    Randy Butner said of the tires: "They're just a little softer, but not that much softer. Times will be a little faster in qualifying and the race pace might be a little faster. The tire definitely has more grip but I don't think they're so soft to where you'll see tire issues like blistering or coming apart. I believe it will be a good tire to race on." Myers said that tonight's race will answer the question of durability.
    "So far they seem to be holding up pretty good but nobody's going to know until we get some heat in them for a longer period of time," he said.
    Pit stops for fresh tires could be in store for the first time in several years. "We'll probably have to pit," Myers said, but added that was based on guesswork only. "I learned a long time ago racing at Bowman Gray Stadium that you can't make plans." Butner said: "If a man has a chassis setup that's hurting the tires, he's going to have to stop. If you stop, you're going to give up very valuable track position. So unless your car's just not working, I'm not sure anybody will stop." Brown said that his team will practice pit stops this morning, just in case.
    "They'll dust off the guns and the kneepads and play around a little while," Brown said. "The fans may like it because you put (fresh) tires on a car and go through the field but the problem is our guys don't do this for a living. They're not trained professionals as far as changing tires (in pit-stop conditions)."
    Brown said tonight's race on the new tires will be a "crap shoot" considering that it's the first race on the tires and it comes in the longest race of the season and that the driver who best manages tire wear will be the man to beat. Myers said the softer tires will probably be ideal for 25-lap races, which are run frequently during the course of the season.
    Beginning this season in all divisions, the green flag for double-file starts will be given when the front row of cars exit the final turn approaching the front stretch. In the past, the starting line was located between the third and fourth turns. The idea behind the change is to lessen the disadvantage of the outside pole sitter.
    "It's now going to be a drag race into turn one," said Gray Garrison, the promoter of Bowman Gray Stadium racing."


Source:  Tommy Bowman / Winston-Salem Journal
Posted:  April 29, 2008

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