Teams Testing at Phoenix
By: Jeff Wackerlin - @JWackerlin Twitter and Instagram | MRN.com on January 31, 2017 | 7:45 A.M. EST
Harvick will take to the track in a Ford for the first time during the test. (Photo: Getty Images)
A number of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams will participate in a two-day test at Phoenix Raceway starting today.
The session will feature the 2017 rules package, a trio of Rookie of the Year candidates and Stewart-Haas Racing's debut with Ford.
Austin Dillon (Richard Childress Racing), Kevin Harvick (Stewart-Haas Racing), Ty Dillon (Germain Racing), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Roush Fenway Racing), Daniel Suarez (Joe Gibbs Racing), Ryan Blaney (Wood Brothers Racing), Joey Logano (Team Penske), Kyle Larson (Chip Ganassi Racing), Aric Almirola (Richard Petty Motorsports), AJ Allmendinger (JTG Daugherty Racing), Erik Jones (Furniture Row Racing), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Hendrick Motorsports) and Michael McDowell (Leavine Family Racing) are scheduled to participate.
The test will mark the 2017 on-track return of Earnhardt after he was sidelined with a concussion halfway through last season.
"I'm going to run some laps and try to push myself physically," Earnhardt said. "Greg (crew chief Greg Ives) and those guys had a great car there last year for both races. Alex (Bowman) almost won the (fall) race. Hopefully, we can go back, and make sure the car is competitive and comfortable so we can feel confident when we return for the race."
Harvick, an eight-time winner at Phoenix, will hit the track for the first time driving a Ford with Roush Yates horsepower under the hood. One of the keys at the test for Stewart-Haas will be off the track on the technology side.
"It’s important for us as an organization to turn all those simulation programs on, download the information into those programs and work through the database," Harvick said. "I have to adapt to Roush Yates horsepower, how the throttle feels on my foot and working with the engine tuner."
Both Dillon and Jones, who will run for Rookie of the Year, are making their debut with new teams. And Suarez, who only recently found out he would be stepping into the No. 19 Toyota as Carl Edwards' replacement, will make his first laps in a Cup car as a rookie. Prior to the driver change, Matt Kenseth was scheduled to test for JGR.
"It became very important to our company to get Daniel in the car as quickly as we could so he could start contributing," said Dave Rogers, crew chief of the No. 19. "More experience is going to make Daniel comfortable and get him talking in the Tuesday meetings."
Bowman (Chevrolet), Landon Cassill (Ford) and J.J. Yeley (Toyota) are scheduled to test cars with the wheel force data-gathering devices on them for each manufacturer.The Phoenix test is the second time cars have been on the track in 2017. Three weeks ago, Kenseth, Logano, Chase Elliott and Jamie McMurray took part in a Goodyear Tire test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.