Daytona Preseason Thunder preview

Green Flag Ahead: 2008 NASCAR Preseason Thunder At Daytona NASCAR National Series Teams Begin On-Track Preparations For 2008 Season NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Leads Off With First Of Two, Three-Day Test Sessions DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 4,...

Green Flag Ahead: 2008 NASCAR Preseason Thunder At Daytona

NASCAR National Series Teams Begin On-Track Preparations For 2008 Season NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Leads Off With First Of Two, Three-Day Test Sessions

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 4, 2008) -- Decorations have been packed away, New Year's resolutions decided -- the calendar flipped.

And while team members may still swap how-I-spent-my-holiday-vacation stories, it's time to re-fire the engines.

Monday, Jan. 7 marks the start of NASCAR Preseason Thunder -- the sport's annual January test sessions. First Up: The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, which kicks off its 2008 preparations at Daytona International Speedway.

This year's Daytona tests precede two NASCAR milestones -- the 50th running of the Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 17, and the first race for NASCAR's new car -- the now-generation race car -- on Daytona's historic, 2.5- mile surface.

NASCAR Sprint Cup teams test in two sessions: All teams that were in odd-number positions in the car owner standings as of July 17, 2007 are scheduled to test from Monday, Jan. 7 through Wednesday, Jan. 9. The following week, teams in even-number positions in the car owner standings as of July 17, 2007 are scheduled to test from Monday, Jan. 14 through Wednesday, Jan. 16.

"We're feeling pretty good about it," said Chad Knaus, crew chief for reigning and two-time series champion Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet). "We've got a couple of good cars we're bringing. It's going to be fun to have this car at Daytona and we're looking forward to getting back to the track."

Although on-track competition ceases each November with the season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, race shops continue to hum. NASCAR Preseason Thunder offers the first barometer of all that winter industry.

"A lot of people think when they wave the green flag at Homestead, we all leave and go to the beach," Knaus said. "That's not what happens. We've been in here working five and six days a week and haven't really taken that much time off. Contrary to what people think, we really have been working hard, but our guys are now looking forward to going to the race track."

All NASCAR Preseason Thunder sessions begin at 9 a.m. and end at 5 p.m., weather permitting. Each includes a lunch break from noon until 1 p.m. Media covering all sessions will have daily interview opportunities in the media center (see next week's schedule on page 3 of this release).

Eight of 12 drivers who competed in the 2007 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup will test next week -- Johnson, series runner-up Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet), third-place finisher Clint Bowyer (No. 07 Jack Daniel's Chevrolet), fourth-place finisher Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Ford), fifth-place finisher Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M's Toyota), seventh-place finisher Kurt Busch (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge), ninth-place finisher Carl Edwards (No. 99 Office Depot Ford) and 11th-place finisher Martin Truex Jr. (No. 01 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet).

Also testing next week: Juan Pablo Montoya (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge), the 2007 NASCAR Sprint Cup Raybestos Rookie of the Year.

NASCAR Nationwide Series teams will split into two Daytona sessions later this month. Teams in odd-number positions in the car owner standings as of July 17, 2007 will test from Friday, Jan. 18 through Sunday, Jan. 20. Teams in even-number positions will test from Sunday, Jan. 20 through Tuesday, Jan. 22. The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series tests from Friday, Jan. 11 through Sunday, Jan. 13.

Fan Fest Offers Driver Q&As, Entertainment ... Along with the opportunity to watch NASCAR Preseason Thunder, fans can enjoy an afternoon and evening at Daytona's Sprint FANZONE once each session. Among the Fan Fest activites: Driver question-and-answer sessions, show cars, bands, a silent auction, displays and pit-stop demonstrations. Cost is $15 per session. Fans can watch each day's test at no cost, beginning at 9 a.m.

Jan. 8: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Fan Fest
Jan 12: NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Fan Fest
Jan. 15: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Fan Fest
Jan. 19: NASCAR Nationwide Series Fan Fest

Fast Facts

Session I: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series teams in odd positions in car owner standings as of July 17, 2007

What: NASCAR Preseason Thunder testing for the 2008 Daytona 500

Where: Daytona International Speedway.
Track Layout: 2.5-mile tri-oval.

When: Monday, Jan. 7 through Wednesday, Jan. 9.
Times: 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Who: David Reutimann, Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr., Kurt Busch, Casey Mears, Robby Gordon, Mark Martin, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Elliott Sadler, Jeff Gordon, Jacques Villeneuve, Travis Kvapil, Scott Wimmer, Reed Sorenson, Juan Pablo Montoya, Kyle Petty, Jimmie Johnson, Jeremy Mayfield, Joe Nemechek, AJ Allmendinger, J.J. Yeley, Jason Keller and Carl Edwards.

-credit: nascar

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Series NASCAR-CUP