Pierce Leads Five Drivers in USAC Silver Crown Test at Chicagoland

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Five drivers in four distinct chassis toured the 1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway for 225 laps during Tuesday's Hoosier Tire test for the USAC Silver Crown Series presented by K&N Engineering, as the series continues to prepare for upcoming events at venues previously never visited by the drivers, cars or USAC.

Aaron Pierce of Muncie, Ind. led the way in both laps completed and overall speeds, as he pushed his No. 26 Sam Pierce Chevrolet Riley/Chevrolet to 90 laps and a top speed of 177.398 mph (30.44 seconds).

"We had a really good day today in the car, and in turn made a lot of laps," Pierce said.

Joining Pierce on the track was Bud Kaeding, who was only six hundredths off Pierce's time. Wayne Reutimann Jr., Thiago Medeiros and Rich Tobias Jr. also turned multiple laps.

The test was put together in an effort for Hoosier to test its new radial tires.

Aside from a spin by Medeiros, there were no major incidents to plague the eight-hour test.

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STABLE CAR HELPS PIERCE SET FAST SPEEDS: It may not pay anything to be the fastest driver in a test - as Kaeding put it - and Pierce was quick to agree with the statement. However, that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t time the top honor.

Pierce, who has been among the fastest drivers all season in his Riley chassis, expressed his pleasure with the car after completing nearly more than twice as many laps as Reutimann, who was second after taking 46 track tours.

"For the first 30 or 40 laps, we had on the old-style tire, but when we switched, we picked up like a second," Pierce said. "These new tires are awesome and the car was very stable. The track was a little faster than Homestead. The cars aren't too awful hard to drive. The corners here are a little tight, but overall, it's a pretty neat place."

Now a native of Phoenix and a driver at the Bob Bondurant Racing School, Pierce looks forward to taking his "stable" car to Chicagoland.

"I like all of these one-and-a-half mile tracks," Pierce said. "They all their own characteristics, which makes them challenging, but at the same time, they suit my driving style. I'm very excited to be back here next month, and with a little luck, maybe end up in Victory Lane."

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KAEDING PLEASED WITH CAR, TEAM EFFORTS: While Pierce set his fastest speeds midway through his run, Kaeding set his speeds at the heights of his afternoon, finishing his afternoon second on the charts at 177.049 mph.

Among the main things the No. 29 BK-Leffler Motorsports team keyed on were fuel runs and getting accustomed to the new tires. The team also played with gear setups.

"This place has some similarities to both Kentucky and Homestead," Kaeding said. "We took some things we learned from both places and applied it here. We're pretty happy with the car, and I'm pretty excited to come back here."

Despite not having several items they needed to conduct a perfect test, Kaeding was pleased with his efforts and those of his team's.

"Hopefully when we come back for the race, we'll have a little more speed," Kaeding said.

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REUTIMANN HAS GOOD DAY IN NEW CHASSIS: A new chassis gave Reutimann a different feel as he toured Chicagoland Speedway for the first time.

Reutimann, whose car owner Gene Christensen purchased a DRC chassis from President Joe Devin three weeks after the race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, ran 46 laps in the new machine and topped out at 170.508 mph. The Reutimann Motorsports team ran the test to accustom themselves to the new tires, gain familiarity with the new car and track and adjust the car to possible setup options.

"I'm pleased as a punch; I'm ready to go," Reutimann said.

Reutimann, who said the reason for the change was more for comfort than anything, made the trip Saturday to Indianapolis from his Zephyrhills, Fla. home and spent all day Sunday finishing the car up for Tuesday’s test.

The bigge

st reason for the change, Reutimann said, was for comfort. He adjusted different things in the car throughout the day.

"I was able to stay still in the car; there wasn't a lot of turbulence in it," Reutimann said. "We had a few issues to deal with early in the day, so we didn't get a chance to put it to its full basis. But as far as it reacting to the things we changed, I'm very happy."

The Stealth machine Reutimann piloted at Phoenix International Raceway and Homestead-Miami Speedway will still serve valuable purposes. In addition to functioning as the backup car - in case anything does go wrong - Reutimann's cousin, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver David Reutimann is scheduled to make an appearance in the car at Indianapolis Raceway Park.

"It's going to come in handy having another car around," Reutimann said. "David is supposed to run it at IRP, and I don't let anyone other than family drive my racecars. For him to come out and play with us, it'll be a good time."

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ENGINE PROBLEMS HALT MEDEIROS' TRACK TIME: A spin, oil leak and finally a blown engine halted what Thiago Medeiros hoped would be a productive day at Chicagoland Speedway.

Medeiros posted seven hot laps in the No. 18 PDM Racing C&R machine before spinning in Turns 3 and 4. His answer of whether the spin and blown engine were connected was inconclusive. But all of those problems, however, didn't come before Medeiros posted a speed of 167.701 mph.

"We just did a few laps to get back in the car and get comfortable," Medeiros said. "We made a lot of changes on the car, and once we made it a little too low and the car kept bottoming out. In Turn 3, the car began to get sideways, and I just had to save it and keep it from hitting the wall."

Medeiros isn't skeptical about getting the car ready for Chicagoland and especially not about his chances at winning at one of his favorite tracks. He wrapped up the 2004 Indy Pro Series championship there and earned his first ever IndyCar test on the 1.5-mile oval that same season.

"It's totally different to run this kind of car here, but it helped in bringing back a lot of fond memories," Medeiros said. "I do like this track a lot, and it was different to drive a Silver Crown car here. It'll be a treat to run with NASCAR on the weekend we are here. We're looking forward to coming back here and having a little better luck the next time."

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TOBIAS ENDURES LONG DAY AT TRACK: Some claim Tuesday is the day of the devil, and that may have been the case for Tobias, who explained nearly everything was out of whack with the car.

From magneto problems to a delinquent coil to fueling malfunctions, Tobias was unable to garner any long runs with the No. 17 RW Motorsports Stealth, instead piecing together short runs that added up to 20 laps.

"This track, like any, has its own characteristics," Tobias said. "Starting position is going to mean a lot here. I think it might be hard to pass because it seems there's only a couple of grooves on the track. But then again, it might be a little more difficult to pass because the track is a little bumpy in the corner, allowing the ability for drivers to make more mistakes."

However few laps Tobias completed, though, he said he was happy with what he learned.

"At least I know the idiosyncrasies of the track," Tobias said.

The USAC Silver Crown Series presented by K&N Engineering makes its debut at Chicagoland Speedway on July 7 as part of the NASCAR Nextel Cup weekend. The 67-lap, 100-mile Silver Crown race will mark the 300th race in series history.

POSDRIVERCHASSISLAPSBEST LAP SPEEDBEST LAP TIME
1Aaron PierceRiley90177.398 mph30.44 sec.
2Bud KaedingDRC39177.049 mph30.50 sec.
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Wayne Reutimann Jr.DRC46170.508 mph31.67 sec.
4Rich Tobias Jr.Stealth18168.224 mph32.10 sec.
5Thiago MedeirosC&R32167.701 mph32.20 sec.

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