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uploaded 5/14/99

NASCAR Test at Sears Point

Jump to Sears Test Page 2

Half a dozen Winston Cup teams and a few Winston West teams tested at Sears Point International Raceway on May 3-5. The Cup guys had just come from a race at Fontana in Southern California.

Rain fell on Monday but Wally Dallenbach and Rusty Wallace moved cones around at Turn 7 trying to come up with a configuration that would provide another passing zone.

View from Turn 2

The view from the hill above Turn 2 is spectacular. Looking a little south of east you can see the East Bay Hills through the haze. In the middle distance are the wetlands that border the north end of San Francisco Bay. The rainy season had just ended and the grass at the track was lush. Red-winged Blackbirds were everywhere.

Wally in Turn 2

Wally Dallenbach driving the Hendrick Motorsports 25-car in Turn 2.

track map

The track map shows the new course as a darker line. At the top right corner is what used to be Turn 4 but now starts The Chute, built last year. The old course was a challenge and provided two passing opportunities, Turn 7 and Turn 11. Those were both hard braking areas. The Chute eliminated the Turn 7 passing area. The 1998 configuration was full throttle in third gear. Now they've squared-off the turn trying to make another passing area.

View of The Chute

The approach to Old Turn 7 came from the left. Now The Chute comes down the hill from the top left. That's Rusty Wallace accelerating out of the turn.

Rusty in The Chute

Rusty Wallace locked up the inside front tire trail braking into The Chute. You can see the smoke. These cones and stacks of tires define the new, more square turn. I hope they put in a curb before the race so the tires don't get punted out into the line.

Press conference

Elliot Sadler, Wally Dallenbach, Tony Stewart, and Rusty Wallace at the press conference noon on Tuesday. Both Rusty and Wally talked about trying to make a new braking area at the end of The Chute, but both said it didn't work. With the old course the cars disappeared from view in Turns 5 and 6. Sears Point people wanted to make the cars visible more of the time for more spectators. Unfortunately they have to deal with the reality of the terrain. At the end of this season more extensive changes will be made. Turns 9 and 10 will be more square and Turn 11 will be closer to the scoring tower eliminating Turn 12 and making the front straight longer and straighter.

Tony Stewart has prepared well for his first road-course race. The week before Fontana he drove at the Bondurant School in Phoenix. He also drove Russell School cars at Sears Point. Tom Hubert, Northern California native and 10th-place qualifier in the Cup race at Sears Point last year, coached Stewart at this test. One of the more interesting stories of the '99 race will be how Stewart adapts to road-course racing.

Tom Hubert

This is Tom in Stewart's No. 20 car.

Tony Stewart is feisty in press conferences. Last year at Indy and in this press conference at Sears Point he exhibited little patience with dumb questions from writers. Good for him. If more people snapped back at the dummy press, maybe they'd prepare better.

Cars are viewed as a Bad Thing in the Bay Area. Motorsports is covered rarely and poorly by the big San Francisco and San Jose newspapers. The hundred-thousand plus fans who come to the Sears Point race are mainly from the Central Valley, towns like Sacramento, Fresno, Chico, and Modesto.

Sears Test Page 2
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