The last of three days of pre-season testing at Dayton International Speedway went off quietly and uneventfully, compared with the big wreck on Friday that wiped out a third of the field.
As a result of crash damage to multiple cars sending several teams home early, only 21 drivers were at work on the 2.5-mile track on Saturday morning. That left two-time Daytona 500 winner Matt Kenseth to set the fastest lap before the lunchtime break with a time of 46.377s (194.062mph), nine hundredths of a second faster than 2011 Daytona 500 champion Trevor Bayne.
Danica Patrick also had a good day of it, putting in the third fastest time of the morning with a lap of 46.476s (193.648mph) ahead of the start of her first fill season in Sprint Cup.
“It has gone better than I expected,” said Patrick, insisting that the credit should go to crew chief Tony Gibson and his team. "I had hoped the car was good, but when you unload and get the car going for the first time on the track, you never know exactly what you're going to get."
Patrick had a short afternoon session, and only 15 drivers took part as others got an early start for home. Roush Fenway Racing's Greg Biffle beat his former team mate Kenseth to the top time after lunch with a lap of 46.169s (194.936mph), while Kenseth's new team mate at Joe Gibbs Racing - Kyle Busch - ended the day with the third fastest time of the day as the #18 was the last car left out on track before the session wrapped. The third JGR driver, Denny Hamlin, only took part in the Thursday sessions as he opted to fly home to be with his girlfriend who is expecting the imminent arrival of the couple's first child.
The fastest time of the three-day test was Bayne's 199.650mph on Friday afternoon before the 12-car wreck interrupted proceedings. That puts the early runs of the new Generation 6 model car significantly slower than the speeds recorded by the old Car of Tomorrow in 2012 which reached 206mph and forced NASCAR to introduce a flurry of changes to the cars to slow the cars to a safer velocity in time for the Daytona 500 in February.
On the basis of this pre-season test no such changes should be required before this year's race, and the Gen-6 car also seems to have put a stop to the tandem drafting that had crept in during recent years with the CoT and proved less than popular with fans.
"When it was a couple races old, the coolness wore off of it - it was something that wasn't very normal for us," NASCAR vice-president of competition Robin Pemberton admitted about the two-car push-drafting. As for the speeds of the cars: "We're right in the ballpark, and we don't foresee any changes."
1. #20 Matt Kenseth
Toyota 46.377s (Leader) 194.062mph
2. #21 Trevor Bayne
Ford 46.467s (-0.090s) 193.686mph
3. #10 Danica Patrick
Chevrolet 46.476s (-0.099s) 193.648mph
4. #27 Paul Menard
Chevrolet 46.519s (-0.142s) 193.469mph
5. #14 Tony Stewart
Chevrolet 46.587s (-0.210s) 193.187mph
6. #33 Austin Dillon
Chevrolet 46.613s (-0.236s) 193.079mph
7. #31 Jeff Burton
Chevrolet 46.673s (-0.296s) 192.831mph
8. #16 Greg Biffle
Ford 46.696s (-0.319s) 192.736mph
9. #18 Kyle Busch
Toyota 46.699s (-0.322s) 192.724mph
10. #42 Juan Montoya
Chevrolet 46.717s (-0.340s) 192.649mph
11. #39 Ryan Newman
Chevrolet 46.717s (-0.340s) 192.649mph
12. #78 Kurt Busch
Chevrolet 46.740s (-0.363s) 192.555mph
13. #29 Kevin Harvick
Chevrolet 46.868s (-0.491s) 192.029mph
14. #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Chevrolet 46.880s (-0.503s) 191.980mph
15. #48 Jimmie Johnson
Chevrolet 46.917s (-0.540s) 191.828mph
16. #17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Ford 46.976s (-0.599s) 191.587mph
17. #99 Carl Edwards
Ford 46.978s (-0.601s) 191.579mph
18. #38 Josh Wise
Ford 47.265s (-0.888s) 190.416mph
19. #13 Casey Mears
Ford 47.307s (-0.930s) 190.247mph
20. #47 Bobby Labonte
Toyota 47.670s (-1.293s) 188.798mph
21. #83 Travis Kvapil/David Reutimann
Toyota 48.283s (-1.906s) 186.401mph
1. #16 Greg Biffle
Ford 46.169s (Leader) 194.936mph
2. #20 Matt Kenseth
Toyota 46.221s (-0.052s) 194.717mph
3. #18 Kyle Busch
Toyota 46.254s (-0.085s) 194.578mph
4. #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Chevrolet 46.295s (-0.126s) 194.405mph
5. #42 Juan Pablo Montoya
Chevrolet 46.354s (-0.185s) 194.158mph
6. #39 Ryan Newman
Chevrolet 46.372s (-0.203s) 194.083mph
7. #99 Carl Edwards
Ford 46.458s (-0.289s) 193.723mph
8. #14 Tony Stewart
Chevrolet 46.528s (-0.359s) 193.432mph
9. #10 Danica Patrick
Chevrolet 46.529s (-0.360s) 193.428mph
10. #48 Jimmie Johnson
Chevrolet 46.617s (-0.448s) 193.063mph
11. #21 Trevor Bayne
Ford 46.629s (-0.460s) 193.013mph
12. #13 Casey Mears
Ford 46.826s (-0.657s) 192.201mph
13. #17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Ford 46.828s (-0.659s) 192.193mph
14. #38 Josh Wise
Ford 47.295s (-1.126s) 190.295mph
15. #83 Travis Kvapil/David Reutimann
Toyota 48.198s (-2.029s) 186.730mph