Important Test Kicks Off In Charlotte
March 23, 2010 | 6:05 P.M. EST
CONCORD, N.C. - The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wrapped up the first day of an important two-day test on Tuesday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Teams took to the track from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (ET) to test the new spoiler before it gets implemented this weekend at Martinsville Speedway.
But today's test was an important one because the 1.5-mile tracks, like CMS, make up a majority of the schedule.
Kurt Busch, who will go down as the last driver to win with the wing on a 1.5-mile track at Atlanta, tested the new spoiler for the second time on an intermediate track. Back in January, Busch took part in a Goodyear tire test at Texas with the new spoiler and the team expected a much looser race car based off that test.
"Today after unloading and getting on the race track we were on the tighter side of things," Busch said. "When you have that stability in the car that's a good sign. All around things don't feel terribly different other than the drag going down the straightaway."
Busch was one of the drivers that tested the new spoiler last week at Talladega Superspeedway and he talked about the adjustment of the view from the driver's seat.
"It catches your eye, because it's something you haven't noticed in a while," Busch said about the 4-inch high spoiler that was tested today. "It's like a billboard on the freeway. Once the drivers get used to the spoiler back on the car I'm sure it will fade into the shape of what the car is that's in front of you."
Three-time Charlotte winner Kasey Kahne put the spoiler through its first paces on the No. 9 Ford.
"The spoiler, to me, feels a bit different," Kahne said. "This is the first time I've driven it, so down the straightaways it's a little draggier. The cars feel pretty stuck in the corners, but the tires are a little bit different this year also, so that probably changes that somewhat."
With the new policy that bans testing on NASCAR sanctioned tracks, this week's session is important for teams to gather data for the rest of the year.
"For us it is running through a lot of things to gather some data," said Kevin Harvick, who was 14th fastest in the afternoon session. "Things we need seven-post and simulation and things like that. We did that this morning, then we will go to work on things that you don't have time to do at the race track."
Overall the reaction from the teams was positive and the cars had a lot of grip with the tire combination and the new spoiler at Charlotte.
During the afternoon NASCAR made a gear adjustment for the teams.
"We had made a gear adjustment for Charlotte based off of last year's information to try to cut some of the RPM back," said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR Vice President for Competition. "Because of what we learned today, we're already readjusting and going back and putting in last year's gear ratios, which should help a little bit of rpm and get the RPM up, and drivers will like that a little bit better.
"But all in all it's been pretty basic, pretty straightforward for single-car runs."
Paul Menard topped the afternoon session after a gear change with a lap of 185.312 mph. Juan Pablo Montoya, who actually took to the track in the morning for a few laps with the wing, was second in the afternoon with the spoiler at 183.780 mph. Ryan Newman, Jamie McMurray and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top five.
NASCAR is not expected to hold more tests with the new spoiler this season.
Testing will conclude tomorrow.