"The tyres will make a difference on the long runs, they might lose lap time more aggressively than last year," he added, saying that while they were "keeping in mind the fuel/pit strategies" they weren't yet focussing on fuel mileage for next month's race. "The fuel map the drivers run in their car depends on variables, he said, citing weather, grid and track position.
Ambrose, an experienced racer on road courses thanks to his V8 sportscar experience in his native Australia, is also looking forward to the new group-based qualifying process that NASCAR in introducing to the Cup series in 2013 bringing it into line with the format used in Nationwide competition.
"We're going to be faster in qualifying with the new car, no doubt," he said.
Almirola on the other hand had somewhat more modest expectations and said that he just needed to learn road courses for the two on the Cup schedule – Sonoma and Watkins Glen. "I came here with the mind set not to win, but to run tenth," he said.
As well as the track time and the media opportunity, the two drivers also got a chance to sample some special edition wares from Sonoma Raceway's new roadside burger stand-style concession point, with Almirola giving two thumbs up for his bacon burger but Ambrose less thrilled with a surprise ingredient in the 'Tasmanian Special.'
"They put bloody Vegemite on it!" he said. "I wouldn't suggest you sell that. It's pretty rough."
Tuesday's test was in better-than-expected conditions with temperatures in the high sixties. Although partly cloudy, the forecast showers stayed away. RPM will be hoping for more of the same on Wednesday for the second and final day of the Sonoma test session.
Reporting from Sonoma by Lynne Huntting, Presssnoop.com