NASCAR »

Drivers test out Daytona's new surface

NASCAR drivers have been back in action ahead of the 2011 Sprint Cup season with a three-day testing event at the newly-resurfaced Daytona International Speedway.
Daytona's 2.5 mile track was repaved for the first time since 1978 - and for only the second time in the entire 48-year history of the circuit - after problems at last year's Daytona 500 pushed up the resurfacing schedule by a year. The three day testing event has been the first opportunity for the drivers to get accustomed to the new feel of the resurfaced Daytona International Speedway with the old bumps, dips and potholes consigned to distant memory, opening up the possibility of more bump-drafting.

The timesheets on the first day on Thursday were topped by the Toyotas of Michael Waltrip Racing driven by David Reuitmann and Martin Truex Jr. running together to set a top speed of 195.780mph, a lap time of 45.970s set during the afternoon session. Afterwards, Truex gave the circuit two thumbs-up: "It's going to be wild. It's going to be fun. I love racing here. Here and Talladega are some of the [most fun] races for us as drivers."

Brian Vickers was third-fastest on his return to NASCAR duty after taking most of 2010 off for medical reasons. His fastest time was set testing a two-car breakaway with his new Red Bull team mate Kasey Kahne, but most of the teams opted for single car runs which set slower times in the 185mph range.

The running on Friday was delayed until after midday because of rain overnight and during the morning. Denny Hamlin set the fastest time working with his team mates Kyle Busch and Joey Logano, the fastest lap of 45.716s (196.868mph) beating Thursday's times and managing to just stay ahead of Tony Stewart.

Many teams opted to pack up and head home after Friday, including reigning champion Jimmie Johnson who finished Friday eighth fastest on the timesheets. That left the Saturday session to be topped by Brad Keselowski who pushed the fastest time down to 45.316s (198.605mph) ahead of his Penske team-mate Kurt Busch. Keselowski will inherit Busch's familiar blue deuce livery in 2011, with Kurt now in new sponsor Shell Pennzoil yellow.

"It's a completely new breed of racing," said Keselowski about the new Daytona surface, comparing it to a baton relay. "If you have the two fastest runners in the world and you put them in a baton relay and they can't exchange, an average Joe that can will beat them."

Along with a new-look Daytona as the first race of the 2011 season, NASCAR will see other changes including a new look to the Sprint Cup cars - a redesigned front splitter doing away with the splitter races and making the cars look a lot better as a result. "It will be less utilitarian-looking," NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said last year. "It'll have a little more style in it, and I think people will like that."

The cars will also be running on the new Sunoco Green ethanol-blended E15 fuel in 2011, switching from unleaded race fuel in previous seasons. The change will mean a new sight in pit lane - new-style, self-venting dump cans with a dry-break mechanism that is proving challenging for teams to adjust to and not spill any fuel during pit stops. The change of design also means a reduction of about a half-gallon of fuel capacity, which will mean decreased mileage.

"Between the fuel burn being greater with E15 and less capacity in the fuel system, you're going to see shorter stints during the races," said Andy Graves, Toyota Racing Development's vice president of chassis engineering and Cup Series program manager. "And because of that, that changes strategy a little bit and that's a bigger impact, in my eyes - and along with the handling of the fuel - than what the engine shops have to do." He added, "At Sonoma, for example, you could always calculate that as a two-stop race, but now I'm sure it will be three."




Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Martin Truex and Mark Martin lead the field away to start the 51st Daytona 500 [Pic credit: Getty for NASCAR]
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars into the pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, and Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, lead the field to the green flag for the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, and Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Resers Toyota, lead the field at the start of the NASCAR Nationwide Series Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Andy Lyons/NASCAR via Getty Images)
The Richard Childress Racing #3 Chevrolet Nationwide Series car driven by Ty Dillon. (Photo Credit: Getty Images for NASCAR)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, leads the field out of the pits during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, qualifies for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet SS, qualified sixth fastest Saturday, July 26, 2014 for Sunday`s Brickyard 400 Nascar Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, qualified 2nd fastest Saturday, July 26, 2014 for Sunday`s Brickyard 400 Nascar Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Next to him on the front row will be pole winner Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, was the fastest qualifier Saturday, July 26, 2014 to capture the pole position for Sunday`s Brickyard 400 Nascar Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS will join him on the front row. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Tony Stewart presents Darrell Wallace Jr. , driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, with the trophy after winning the Camping World Truck 2nd Annual 1-800 Car Cash Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway on July 23, 2014 in Rossburg, Ohio.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redds Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redds Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redds Ford, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redds Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Crew chief Chad Knaus inspects the car of Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, after a crash during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, lead the field at the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, crashes in the early part of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)

Start the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.




© 1999 - 2014 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.