Daytona Preseason Thunder, day 7 report

Day Of Experience: Penske Racing Tests Car of Tomorrow at Daytona * Kurt Busch: "I like everything about the Car of Tomorrow." * Good Work: Series Director John Darby Pleased With Teams' Test * Paul Menard The Fastest In Both NASCAR NEXTEL...

Day Of Experience: Penske Racing Tests Car of Tomorrow at Daytona

* Kurt Busch: "I like everything about the Car of Tomorrow."

* Good Work: Series Director John Darby Pleased With Teams' Test

* Paul Menard The Fastest In Both NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Sessions

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 17, 2007) -- With showers approaching from the Atlantic Ocean and weather conditions threatening, NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series teams attending the second of two annual preseason tests at Daytona International Speedway this week found themselves racing not among themselves, but against Wednesday's weather clock.

Ultimately, Mother Nature won, washing out the three-day session's final two hours. And for the Penske Racing teams of Kurt Busch (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge) and Ryan Newman (No. 12 Alltel Dodge), the checkered flag came a bit too soon.

Both Penske teams tested a Car of Tomorrow on Wednesday -- teams are permitted to test a third car on the third day of a three-day test -- and both liked what they saw.

"We had a good time," said Mike Nelson, Newman's crew chief. "It's a new challenge. It gives us a chance to work on something new, so we're excited about that. Actually we would have liked to run a little longer today."

With single-car runs scheduled for Wednesday morning and drafting set to begin at noon, both teams tested set-ups and restrictor-plate sizes.

"We played with wing angles and the different combinations with the plate with fuel and air mixtures," Busch said. "I thought the car could handle any speed it wanted to go."

"You really feel like you're cutting some new ground," said Roy McCauley, Busch's crew chief. "We're far from learning everything we need to know, but we definitely learned some things to get started, enough to tickle the brain and kind of help out NASCAR. They helped us and it was a real nice situation."

The Car of Tomorrow, which will debut March 25 at Bristol Motor Speedway, is NASCAR's next-generation race car. The result of a five-year project, it features improved driver-safety features, better performance and is more cost-efficient for teams. It will race in 16 events this season.

"It stuck pretty good," Newman said of his Car of Tomorrow. "It seems like it stuck better than the other car, but we'll see what it's like when it gets in dirty air and traffic."

"One interesting thing that I see with it is it could lend itself to a new Toyota team," Busch said, "just striking up a nice set-up and running up to the front -- being an independent team running strong. I think that's what that car is meant to do and I like everything about the Car of Tomorrow."

***

Good Test: Series Director John Darby Pleased with Results ... Despite rain that delayed Monday's test session and ended Wednesday's, NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series director John Darby said the past two week's three-day sessions were missions accomplished.

"When you have two weeks like we just went through where the second week overlays the first so closely," Darby said, "and it doesn't matter what make a car or what team it is, everything lined up just perfectly. When that happens, it gives you a lot of confidence that when we come back in a few weeks in February, the results should be just fine."

With rain imminent Wednesday, the 34 teams attending this week's session worked through lunch, aiming for a 4 p.m., finish. Rain arrived just before 2 p.m., ending the test, but overall speeds and consistency were what series officials expected.

"The speeds are very comfortable right now," Darby said. "Even as the teams come back and finish rubbing, polishing, and tweaking and getting the last few 'tenths' out of every lap, we still have a little bit of cushion. So everything should line up just fine."

On Wednesday, teams were allowed to test a third car -- they may do so now on the third day of a three-day test. Eight teams took advantage. They were the teams of Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Ford), Regan Smith (No. 39 Ginn Racing Chevrolet), Ken Schrader (No. 21 Little Debbie Ford), Clint Bowyer (No. 07 Jack Daniels Chevrolet), David Gilliland (No. 38 M&M's Ford) and Johnny Sauter (No. 70 Yellow Transportation Chevrolet). Kurt Busch's and Ryan Newman's teams tested Cars of Tomorrow.

"It was our most recent opportunity to look at and establish a plate size for the Car of Tomorrow as well as a gear ratio that seems to work," Darby said of the Penske teams' work. "We did some very early runs today, obvious by the quick speed when we had the big plate and backed off of that a little bit. They got a baseline so that teams now are arranged to be tested and working as they work with the Car of Tomorrow towards Talladega (Superspeedway) in October."

***

Pit Stops: Around The Daytona Garage

Surf's Up: Kyle Busch Hangs Ten ... Kyle Busch (No. 5 Kellogg's/CARQUEST Chevrolet) took a walk on the wild side Wednesday, with the midday announcement of Spectrum Brand lawn and garden products as the primary sponsor for Hendrick Motorsports' No. 5 NASCAR Busch Series team. Also adorning the car during 2007 will be Busch Gardens parks as part of the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund.

But his Wednesday pose between a baby alligator and a bald eagle wasn't the only scary thing Busch has done during the past couple months. A 10-day trip to Hawaii marked his first-ever surfing experience -- the video available online, he added -- that was sandwiched between holiday time spent with family.

Older brother Kurt Busch, who is building a new house, got no off-season construction help from his younger sibling, who recently completed building his own house.

"He's on his own with that one," Kyle Busch said. "I had to do mine and he'll have to do his."

***

On Deck: NASCAR Busch Series Testing Jan. 19-23

The NASCAR Busch Series will hold its test at Daytona International Speedway Jan. 19-23. Teams that were in even-number positions in the car owner standings as of July 12, 2006 will test from Jan. 19-21. Teams that were in odd-number positions in the car owner standings as of July 12, 2006 will test from Jan. 21-23.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Ken Schrader , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Paul Menard , Regan Smith , Clint Bowyer , David Gilliland , Kyle Busch
Teams Team Penske , Hendrick Motorsports