Newman, McMurray test Goodyears at Atlanta Motor Speedway

Jay Busbee

While most NASCAR drivers were hanging out doing whatever it is they do between races — video games, baking cookies, knitting — Ryan Newman and Jamie McMurray took to the mean streets of Atlanta Motor Speedway to test a new Goodyear tire compound. (Note: the photo at right isn't from the test.)

The tire tests help both manufacturer and team to test themselves and their equipment. And since Atlanta is notoriously difficult on tires, as well as being a key pre-Chase race, both No-Neck and Zoolander jumped at the chance to be a part of the testing, as reported in a story on Atlantamotorspeedway.com.

"You're really fortunate when you get to do the tire test," McMurray said. "That's why teams fight to get to come here and do this, because you get an hour or two each day to do what you want to do and try and make your car faster."

Newman has plenty of experience at Atlanta Motor Speedway; he's tied for the most poles at the track with seven. And he's going to have to work to get back in the Chase for a second year. He explained how the testing works:

"As soon as you get done with a run they take the temperatures and you give them your feedback on that tire and that run or that set at the same time," he said. "It happens really quick. You go back and make a change — they have a predetermined list and sometimes that lists a change according to what was experienced on a previous run."

Unfortunately for NASCAR fans, the practice was closed to the public, but fortunately, good will come of it. "From what I understand, Goodyear wants to stay pretty close to what we raced in March and just try to get the durability a little bit better in the tire," said McMurray. The drivers made 10-lap, 25-lap and 30-lap runs in both the day and evening to account for Atlanta's nighttime racing in September.