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Drivers discuss using Kansas test to 'verify' new packages

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Part of what Goodyear officials, along with four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams, did here at Kansas Speedway Monday and Tuesday was verify the tire combination to be used in next month's Chase for the Sprint Cup race at the 1.5-mile track.

On Wednesday, 12 teams did a little verifying of their own, taking part in an open team test before heading to Chicago for this weekend's opening race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

"It seems like at this point in the year with the (rules) package and program that we're under with the car, you're kind of just verifying things," Michael Waltrip Racing driver Clint Bowyer said during a break in testing. "There are a very specific, few items that we're making sure that we have verified to when we go to Chicago starting the Chase this weekend that we know that's going to be the right way to go."

In addition to Bowyer, other Chase drivers testing Wednesday were Jimmie Johnson (Hendrick Motorsports), Brad Keselowski (Team Penske), Jamie McMurray (Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates), Kevin Harvick (Stewart-Haas Racing), Kyle Busch (Joe Gibbs Racing) and Paul Menard (Richard Childress Racing).

Also testing but not in the Chase were Aric Almirola (Richard Petty Motorsports), Greg Biffle (Roush Fenway Racing), Alex Bowman (Tommy Baldwin Racing), J.J. Yeley (BK Racing) and Ryan Blaney (Wood Brothers Racing).

That Kansas and Chicagoland Speedway are somewhat similar perhaps made Wednesday's opportunity a bit more beneficial.

"(Testing here) is an advantage, this track being similar (to Chicago); you can learn some stuff," Bowyer said. "Obviously the grip level and the asphalt and stuff like that's different. And it's an important track when we come back here (in October).

"The circumstance we are under, given the fact we got ourselves in the Chase last weekend, it's kind of just a verification day for us."

Rodney Childers, crew chief for defending series champ Harvick, said there were some things that could be gleaned from Wednesday's test that could be beneficial this weekend, "but not a lot.

"I felt like our test went well, we got to try all kinds of crazy stuff the first half of the day. We really haven't found anything that was all that great compared to what we had in the past.

"So we ended up kind of going back to what we thought was right at the end of the day and the car drove good and had good speed."

Johnson was one of four drivers taking part in the 2-day Goodyear test, and the six-time series champion said he was ready for a change of scenery. "I've run almost two races now," he said during a break.

Much time during the Goodyear test, he said was working with the potential 2016 rules package, a platform that features less downforce and was used twice this year -- at Kentucky and Darlington.

"I found myself behind a few cars and felt like the car drove really well in traffic," he said. "I think we found and identified a few sets of tires worked really well, started off fast and had a lot of falloff. So I feel like the last two days of the tire test were very productive.

"Today … we worked through a busy morning trying some things off our list. We've got a long list of stuff to try; we don't test all that often. Really just working through this systematically, seeing what might be faster and just collecting data."

Sunday's myAFibRisk.com 400 (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR) is the opening race of the 10-race Chase. Kansas will play host to the Chase Sunday, Oct. 18 with the Hollywood Casino 400.

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