The latest round of testing of the new Generation 6 model NASCAR Sprint Cup vehicle was seriously cut back after heavy rain hit Concord, North Carolina and Charlotte Motor Speedway all day on Thursday.
The latest pre-season development track session for the Gen-6 cars was meant to be a two-day affair starting on Thursday, but the first day proved to be a complete washout before the heavy rain later later turned to snow and ice.
Although the wet weather had moved away from the region by Friday morning leaving the day with blue skies but very chilly, it still took the facility some time to get the 1.5-mile track into a usable state and as a result cars weren't able to get out for their first runs until shortly after midday. Ice forming inside the SAFER barriers was one reason for the delay, and there were also concerns over 'weepers' which saw water draining from seams in the track.
To try and reclaim some of the lost time, NASCAR arranged to keep the track open through lunch and to allow cars to continue making runs until 7.30pm instead of wrapping at the usual 5pm mark.
Among the 33 drivers attending the test, Roush Fenway Racing's Biffle was the early pacesetter with a lap of 192.601 mph during the afternoon. "This is the first opportunity we've really had to get the car on the race track in the configuration we're actually going to race in,” said Biffle
"We needed these two days to really figure out what the car is going to end up like," he added. "We can test into the evening and [hopefully] it won't get too cold, too fast because I'd rather stay as long as we can and get as much information as we can versus having to pack this whole show up and go somewhere else again, or come back later."
The cars got quicker as the temperatures dropped in the winter evening, and Richard Petty Motorsports' Aric Almirola set a new unofficial track record with a laptime of 27.832s (194.021mph) before the session finally ended after around seven hours of test time.
Teams had a three-day test opportunity at Daytona last week, but restrictor plate superspeedways are very different tracks compared with the normal 1.5-mile tracks such as Charlotte that NASCAR more usually races on, so the loss of time this week would have been keenly felt. However the teams, drivers and NASCAR officials were all philosophical about the time lost to the weather delay.
“Testing is valuable, there is no question about it," said Richard Childress Racing's Jeff Burton. "But if we [only get] two hours today, everybody got two hours."
"I think like any test, teams will leave out of here, some will be happy, some will be middle-of-the-road and you'll have a couple of sad ones," said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition. “They'll continue to work on it."
The test at CMS is the last opportunity for teams to work on their cars out on track before they head to Daytona for Speedweek in February, which culminates in the Daytona 500 season opener to the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup championship.
Charlotte Motor Speedway test session times
1. #43 Aric Almirola
Ford 27.832s (Leader) 194.021mph
2. #99 Carl Edwards
Ford 27.882s (-0.050s) 193.673mph
3. #13 Casey Mears
Ford 27.924s (-0.092s) 193.382mph
4. #9 Marcos Ambrose
Ford 27.938s (-0.106s) 193.285mph
5. #48 Jimmie Johnson
Chevrolet 28.009s (-0.177s) 192.795mph
6. #55 Mark Martin
Toyota 28.032s (-0.200s) 192.637mph
7. #16 Greg Biffle
Ford 28.036s (-0.204s) 192.610mph
8. #56 Martin Truex Jr.
Toyota 28.063s (-0.231s) 192.424mph
9. #15 Clint Bowyer
Toyota 28.070s (-0.238s) 192.376mph
10. #17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Ford 28.075s (-0.243s) 192.342mph
11. #42 Juan Montoya
Chevrolet 28.092s (-0.260s) 192.226mph
12. #5 Kasey Kahne
Chevrolet 28.095s (-0.263s) 192.205mph
13. #20 Matt Kenseth
Toyota 28.104s (-0.272s) 192.143mph
14. #29 Kevin Harvick
Chevrolet 28.108s (-0.276s) 192.116mph
15. #22 Joey Logano
Ford 28.123s (-0.291s) 192.014mph
16. #14 Tony Stewart
Chevrolet 28.134s (-0.302s) 191.939mph
17. #18 Kyle Busch
Toyota 28.158s (-0.326s) 191.775mph
18. #78 Kurt Busch
Chevrolet 28.172s (-0.340s) 191.680mph
19. #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Chevrolet 28.194s (-0.362s) 191.530mph
20. #39 Ryan Newman
Chevrolet 28.196s (-0.364s) 191.517mph
21. #1 Jamie McMurray
Chevrolet 28.214s (-0.382s) 191.394mph
22. #24 Jeff Gordon
Chevrolet 28.216s (-0.384s) 191.381mph
23. #31 Jeff Burton
Chevrolet 28.241s (-0.409s) 191.211mph
24. #21 Trevor Bayne
Ford 28.278s (-0.446s) 190.961mph
25. #11 Michael McDowell
Toyota 28.315s (-0.483s) 190.712mph
26. #30 David Stremme
Toyota 28.332s (-0.500s) 190.712mph
27. #10 Danica Patrick
Chevrolet 28.342s (-0.510s) 190.530mph
28. #2 Brad Keselowski
Ford 28.355s (-0.523s) 190.443mph
29. #47 Bobby Labonte
Toyota 28.468s (-0.636s) 189.687mph
30. #27 Paul Menard
Chevrolet 28.469s (-0.637s) 189.680mph
31. #7 Dave Blaney
Chevrolet 28.645s (-0.813s) 188.515mph
32. #34 David Ragan
Ford 28.752s (-0.920s) 187.813mph
33. #34 Scott Speed
Ford 28.882s (-1.050s) 186.968mph