Best Of Test Week One

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Being at a track during a test session is a very different experience than a typical race weekend.

A relaxed atmosphere fills the air with drivers and teams running a little slower than they would on a normal, full throttle weekend of racing.

No traffic jams, 5 a.m. wake-up calls or 6 p.m. checkered flags weren't the highlights of the first week of testing in Daytona, but they were a welcome sight.

Among the items of interest this week:

• Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continues to take the high road and not get into a war of words with DEI team owner Teresa Earnhardt. Junior made it clear he'd like to stay at DEI but that negotiations weren't going all that smoothly. But to his credit, he didn't snipe back at his current boss when given every opportunity. The guess here is that Junior stays put in the team's No. 8 for some time.

• Dale Jarrett came out swinging at those who think Toyota is bad for the sport and a Japanese manufacturer has no business in NASCAR. Here is DJ's response to the question during a testing break this week.

“As far as Toyota, sure, the parent company is foreign,” said Jarrett. “We could get into the argument about where the Ford Fusion is built; every one of them are built in Mexico. The (Chevrolet) Monte Carlos are built in Canada. So we could go through all that stuff and see who is right and who is wrong, but there are a lot of Toyotas that are built in the United States. They employ a lot of people. They are a great car company. Probably not too far from being No. 1 in the world. But you're not going to get that across to some people, and I'm not going to try to and that's not my job or my plight to come out here and try to convince everybody that this is the right thing to do for Toyota to be involved.

“If I wanted to really get nasty, I could say, go in your house and check and if you're going to argue with me about not being an American, which I'm as American as the next person is right here, and I pay my taxes just like everybody else and I love this country,” said Jarrett, who won what is now known as the Nextel Cup championship in 1999. “You know, check and see if that TV was made in the United States that you're watching our great races on. So there's a lot of things I could say. It's something that I can't convince everybody and I'm not going to try to do that. Understand that we all have to make decisions at times based on what is best for me and my situation, and that Toyota is a big part of the United States economy.”

Unfortunately for Jarrett, he's still going to have a hard time convincing those who still believe a Japanese manufacturer in NASCAR is another sign of the apocalypse.

• Greg Biffle doesn't think changing the "Chase" to include 12 drivers from the current ten will mean much.

"If they expanded it to 12, I really don’t feel like it’s gonna change it anyway," Biffle said. "To be perfectly honest with you, I don’t know where the winners have come from in the 'Chase' so far or how far back or what the stats are, but if we would have made the 'Chase' this year, we still would have never won the championship. The facts are that the guys in probably the top five or six are the ones that ultimately have a strong chance of winning the title, unless some fluke thing happened to them and they had three or four engine failures or something and just barely made the 'Chase,' but they’re the best team."

One week down, one to go.

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