Teams Test New Truck at Daytona
By: Jeff Wackerlin - @JWackerlin Twitter and Instagram | MRN.com on January 13, 2014 | 6:00 P.M. EST
Jeb Burton and Ben Kennedy put Turner Scott Motorsports at the top of the speed chart in both sessions. (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - A new NASCAR truck for each of the manufacturers took to the high banks of Daytona International Speedway for the first time during Preseason Thunder for the Camping World Truck Series.
Twenty-one drivers tested the new trucks for their respective team and manufacturer - Toyota, Chevrolet and Ford - under sunny skies on Monday. The test was extended and extra 45 minutes because of a threat for rain on the final day of the test on Tuesday.
"Comments are positive so far," said Chad Little, NASCAR managing director for the Camping World Truck Series. "I think the drivers don't feel a lot of difference, if any, between the two models, and they shouldn't until we get to further in the week and some other tracks. Good comments, a lot of single car runs, a little drafting. We're concentrating on some of the new items with the new body and making sure that they're all in line and consistent with where we need to be for speed and time and cooling, and so far I think we're on track."
Turner Motorsports teammates Ben Kennedy and Jeb Burton topped the two sessions, respectively. The two were the first to draft together in the morning session and then took part in larger pack drafting as the day went on.
Kennedy, who is the great-grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., will be racing full-time in the No. 31 Chevrolet this season after running part time in the series last season and graduating up from the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. Today marked the first time Kennedy was able to drive a NASCAR Truck around the famous speedway that his great-grandfather built.
"It was really special," Kennedy said. "I think I may have taken one lap in a street car and one on a bike or something. It’s really cool to race here at Daytona and being around the speedway for so many years, doing many jobs in-and-out of the racetrack and all around here. To actually be able to go and race on the racetrack and being able to compete with these guys is going to be really cool. It's awesome today and I'm sure once Feb. 21 comes around it’s going to become even neater."
Burton's afternoon speed of 191.144 mph topped Monday with Kennedy (190.925), John Wes Townley (190.917), Matt Crafton (190.634) and Darrell Wallace Jr. (190.577) rounding out the top five.
Defending series champion Crafton already turned a numerous laps at Daytona this past Friday when he subbed for Paul Menard in the No. 27 Sprint Cup Series Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing.
"The things are fast," Crafton said about the Cup car. "It's incredible how much faster they are by themselves and the trucks are quite a bit slower by themselves, but then in a pack the trucks pick up so much speed just because they are so aero challenged. That's one of the biggest things I noticed to being by yourself in the pack with the truck is quite a bit of speed difference."
Wallace, who will return this season in the No. 54 Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports, said he felt a difference with the new truck following the first couple runs.
"We had a test before Christmas and I jumped in for five laps and didn’t really learn a lot," Wallace said. "Now I’m learning what different techniques you have to use in this truck. I think you are going to have to be a little bit easier with this one. It feels like it falls off a little but more. I know it’s not a new tire, but it seems that maybe the way the aero is pushing down. There’s just something different about it that I have to figure out. It’s a test day for everybody and I’m excited to be back behind the wheel of a Toyota Tundra for Kyle again."
For now, the only difference Joey Coulter - who joined GMS Racing to drive the No. 21 Chevrolet - was a new view out the windshield.
"Just the way what you can see out of the window is a bit different because the front of the hood is up a little higher so you are looking at the top of the hood a little but more than what you were," Coulter said. "Handling wise right now by ourselves we can’t tell too much of a difference."
Brad Keselowski Racing brought just the No. 19 Ford for the test with Ryan Blaney and Tyler Reddick taking turns behind the wheel. For Reddick, it was his first time in the truck as he prepares to compete in 16 races.
"We have a long ways to go," Reddick said. "I’ve gotten pretty used to and comfortable in the truck for my first time out. As of this point right now I’m just trying to help the guys decide what’s fast and what’s not fast and run accurate, repetitive laps."
With the transition to the new truck this season, NASCAR will be allowing teams to run the old trucks on tracks 1.25-mile and under if they choose to do so.
"I think we're going to go all new this year," Blaney said. "We've been in the tunnel and we've seen how much improvements they are, how much faster they are, just how much better downforce they are and all that stuff. We're planning on using all brand new trucks, except for the Eldora race. We're going to use an old one for that race. But as far as everyone else that goes, we're going to go with the new 2014 stuff."