NASCAR Media Conference
October 4, 2011
THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started with our post test media availability. We welcome John Darby and Robin Pemberton with NASCAR. We'll take a couple quick comments from both of them and then open it up for questions.
Robin, talk about what you've seen so far.
ROBIN PEMBERTON: It's been a typical test on a repave, reconfiguration. The first third of the day was just getting drivers used to the new layout here. As you could see, the speeds kept increasing throughout the day once the track got rubbered in.
Basically it's been a pretty smooth day so far, and I suspect that the teams will get after it pretty hard tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: John, talk about your perspective from the garage area, what are some of the teams' initial thoughts?
JOHN DARBY: I won't speak for any of the drivers. Obviously, when we get a new configuration of a racetrack, there's concerns from our side as we monitor engine rpms, gear ratios, so on and so forth as the teams find their new way around the track.
The track obviously takes a different line today than what it did before the repave. I liken it a lot to being able to go through my front door at night in pitch darkness and be able to walk through my living room, negotiate my way into the kitchen, find the light switch without any interference until the night that I come home that it's dark and my wife has rearranged the furniture in the living room and I trip and fall halfway through. It's the same thing.
Everybody has great memories, great notebooks. They're all based around the old configuration of Phoenix. A lot of today was spent in understanding what's different, understanding what's different with the banking, the doglegs, the ups and downs of the elevation, everything that's changed. At the same time the main agenda for today was to figure out the fastest way around Phoenix International Raceway with this new configuration.
I think that's the part that Robin was talking about where that speaks for itself, we're almost two full seconds faster at the end of the test day than we were at the beginning. I think we'll even see more improvement upon that tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions.
Q. How do you think fans are going to like this new track? Are they going to see a difference come race day?
ROBIN PEMBERTON: There's a few things with the backstretch being raised up as much as they have, the sight lines have improved greatly for the frontstretch fans. That's something they'll be able to see racing that they have never been able to see here before from their seats.
There was a lot of effort put into the engineering, the variable banking here. So over time the grooves should widen out and there will be more lanes to race with. That's what all the simulation work has shown. We believe that that will be true moving forward.
Q. How about weather conditions, clouds, rain, not typical Arizona weather.
ROBIN PEMBERTON: One of the things we picked up on is the track is pretty sensitive to temperature and being overcast. At one portion of the day when the sun got covered, the times, there was a whole section where the times came down close to half a second a lap.
It's going to be something that will add to the challenges of the team when we come back here for qualifying day, things like that.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you very much.
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