New Nationwide Car Tests Talladega

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No one needed to pinch Justin Allgaier today.

The NASCAR Nationwide Series Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings leader had his first turn in the Challenger, Dodge’s new car entry into the series, during a test at Talladega Superspeedway.

“It drives like a dream,” Allgaier said after his first laps in the car. He was one of eight drivers representing the four series manufacturers who put the new cars through the paces for the first time on a track more than 1.5 miles in length. Previous tests for the NASCAR Nationwide new car were at Richmond International Raceway and Lowe’s Motor Speedway last year.

According to Robin Pemberton, NASCAR’s vice president of competition, the purpose of today’s six-hour test was to gather information relative to the size of the tapered spacer that the car will need in order to achieve its desired speed at tracks such as Talladega and Daytona International Speedway – where the new car will make its points-racing debut in July, 2010. Additionally, the test helped to better identify the proper gear ratio that the new car will need to generate the proper RPM.

“We needed to see what should be done from a plate standpoint to get enough speed in the cars and also see how they reacted in the draft,” Pemberton said.

The first few hours of the test were spent in single runs, followed by drafting during the afternoon. A pair of NASCAR veterans who have successful histories in the series – two-time champion Kevin Harvick and 27-time winner Jeff Burton – were the first drafting pair out on the track.

“The great advantage of this car is we have a lot of time with the first new car (in NASCAR Sprint Cup), Burton said. “This is an evolution of that. I think it’s going to work really well. I like the way the cars look and the way the cars drive.”

Brett Bodine, NASCAR’s director of cost research, was in agreement with Burton. “I’ve received some really favorable comments from the drivers,” he said. “In fact, what I’m hearing is this new car drives better than the current Nationwide car.”

“This has been an exciting few days for the series,” said Joe Balash, the director of the NASCAR Nationwide Series. “Dodge unveiled the Challenger last week, we had all four cars together for the first time on Saturday … it was pretty special.

“We believe this car will give our series its own unique identity and that certainly was one of our goals from the very beginning in developing this new car.”

Following its debut next summer at Daytona, the NASCAR Nationwide Series new car also will compete in points races at Michigan International Speedway in August, at Richmond in September and at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in October. Full integration for the new car into the series is targeted for 2011.

“Nationwide couldn’t be prouder of our association with the series,” said John Aman, associate vice president for strategic sponsorships for series sponsor, Nationwide, who was on site at Talladega for the test. “We are extremely excited about the addition of this new race car.”

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