Preseason Thunder Begins at Daytona
By: Jeff Wackerlin - @JWackerlin Twitter and Instagram | MRN.com on January 10, 2013 | 9:06 A.M.
2012 Series champion Brad Keselowski was the first to hit the track. (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - NASCAR's sixth-generation Sprint Cup Series car is taking to the high banks of Daytona International Speedway for the first time today on the first of three days of Preseason Thunder testing.
Thirty-five teams are on the entry list for the first on-track action of the 2013 season. Today's test also will be the second time for some drivers on a restrictor-plate track with the new car after NASCAR conducted a test at Talladega Superspeedway last October.
“This test is an opportunity for teams to prepare their cars for Speedweeks and the Daytona 500,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition. “This provides an excellent lead-in to the 2013 season. There's been a lot of work put into the development of the Gen-6 car by the manufacturers, teams and NASCAR."
The last time Cup Series teams tested the new car was at Charlotte Motor Speedway in early December. Michael Waltrip Racing did not participate in that session but has all three of its cars here with drivers Clint Bowyer, Mark Martin and Martin Truex Jr.
Scott Miller, MWR’s executive vice president of competition, says the organization will be working on a number of items as it prepares for Budweiser Speedweeks.
“We'll spend a lot of time on single-car runs to try and optimize our qualifying package," Miller said. "We'll spend a minimal time drafting since our car count is very low. However, drafting is important because we need to understand the cooling and driveability of the cars in a pack.”
Last month's Charlotte test saw Hendrick Motorsports' Kasey Kahne top the speed charts. He's testing at Daytona along with teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson.
Earnhardt Ganassi Racing's Jamie McMurray comes into the test fresh off a busy two weeks at Daytona that included finishes of first and third, respectively, on the opening day of Kartweek and a test behind the wheel of the No. 02 BMW-Riley in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series.
"I've been down here a lot,” McMurray said. "But I really enjoy coming here. If you could pick a track to spend a lot of time at, Daytona is a special place whether it's in karting, sports cars or NASCAR."
After today's on-track action is completed, DIS will host Preseason Thunder Fan Fest that will include autograph sessions, driver forums and more.
Among the drivers scheduled to appear during the 5:30–7:30 p.m. (ET) program are Earnhardt, Gordon, Johnson, Kahne, McMurray, Truex, Martin, Greg Biffle, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart, Jeff Burton, Juan Pablo Montoya and Kurt Busch.
In the 7:30–9:30 p.m. session, Bowyer, 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski, 2012 Daytona 500 winner Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, Danica Patrick, Aric Almirola, Carl Edwards, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Marcos Ambrose, Joey Logano, David Ragan, David Gilliland, Paul Menard, Kyle Busch, Bobby Labonte, Austin Dillon, Trevor Bayne and Casey Mears are scheduled to appear.
The track will also will have Livestream video chats on Facebook throughout the evening that will be moderated by Motor Racing Network's Brian Nelson and Kyle Rickey. The first scheduled chat will feature Burton and Kurt Busch, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Click Here for Chat Information
Be sure to check MotorRacingNetwork.com throughout the day for speeds, photos and features.