Daytona Preseason Thunder preview

NASCAR Nationwide Series Ready For NASCAR Preseason Thunder CLICK HERE *New Era Begins With Nationwide Insurance As Series Sponsor Series *Champions Headline List Of Drivers Participating in Session I Media DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 17,...

NASCAR Nationwide Series Ready For NASCAR Preseason Thunder CLICK HERE

*New Era Begins With Nationwide Insurance As Series Sponsor Series
*Champions Headline List Of Drivers Participating in Session I Media

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 17, 2008) -- A new sponsor is excited to be involved and looks forward to infusing fresh ideas and strategies into the series. The reigning champion returns to defend his title. Veterans are as focused as ever with the influx of new talent.

Welcome to the 2008 NASCAR Nationwide Series season, which begins Friday, Jan. 18 at Daytona International Speedway with the first of two, three-day NASCAR Preseason Thunder test sessions for the Feb. 16 Camping World 300 presented by Chevrolet.

Over 40 drivers -- including four series champions -- representing nearly 30 teams are scheduled to participate. The test will split into two sessions; teams ranked in odd-numbered positions in NASCAR Nationwide Series owner points after July 17, 2007 will test from Jan. 18-20, while teams ranked in even-numbered positions after July 17 last year will test Jan. 20-22. There is no rain date.

The first session is highlighted by series champions -- defending champion Carl Edwards (No. 60 Scotts Ford), two-time champion Kevin Harvick (No. 33 RoadLoans.com/Camping World Chevrolet) and 1994 champion David Green (No. 5 National Guard/Delphi/GoDaddy.com/Lowe's Chevrolet).

Edwards is one of four drivers scheduled for full-time double duty in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. For the first time in his nine-year series career, Harvick will not compete for Richard Childress Racing. Instead, he'll drive his own Kevin Harvick Inc. car and also help develop young teammate Cale Gale (No. 77 KHI Chevrolet), who also will test during the first session.

Green makes the trek to Daytona to offer information on the JR Motorsports No. 5 Chevrolet that will be shared by a trio of all-stars out of the Hendrick Motorsports camp -- two-time series champion Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mark Martin, the series' all-time wins and poles leader, and two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson. Newcomer Landon Cassill, also will get seat time in the No. 5 during the season and will be on hand at Daytona to learn from Green.

Clint Bowyer (No. 2 BB&T/Camping World Chevrolet) will pull double-duty in 2008 and returns to the NASCAR Nationwide Series in a full-time capacity since 2005 when he finished as runner-up to champion Martin Truex Jr.

Series veterans Mike Wallace (No. 7 GEICO Toyota) and Johnny Sauter (No. 1 Miccosukee Resort Chevrolet) -- who returns to the series after a year in NASCAR Sprint Cup -- are scheduled for the first session. Gale's young peers include Brad Keselowski (No. 88 U.S. NAVY Chevrolet), and Brad Coleman (No. 27 Kleenex Ford), along with Bryan Clauson (No. 41 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Dodge). Dario Franchitti (No. 40 Fastenal Dodge), the 2007 Indianapolis 500 winner and Clauson's teammate with CGRFS, also is scheduled to participate in the first session.

The first day of Session II -- Jan. 20 -- overlaps with the final day of Session I. Scott Wimmer (No. 29 Holiday Inn Chevrolet) will shake down the defending owner champion car. He and Jeff Burton captured that crown last year for RCR and again are paired in 2008 to defend the title.

Other drivers featured in Session II include 2003 series champion Brian Vickers (No. 10 ABF Freight Toyota) and David Reutimann (No. 99 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota), a native of Zephyrhills, Fla., who finished second to Edwards last year. David Ragan (No. 6 Discount Tire Co. Ford), Edwards' Roush Fenway Racing teammate, was the 2007 series Raybestos Rookie of the Year. Ragan and Reutimann round out the drivers pulling full-time double duty in 2008.

Jason Leffler (No. 38 Great Clips Toyota) was third in the final 2007 standings and is a solid contender this season. Australian Marcos Ambrose (No. 59 Kingsford Ford) also claimed a top-10 position in the rankings last year, his first in the series. Steve Wallace (No. 66 Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches Chevrolet) and David Stremme (No. 64 Atreus Homes & Communities Chevrolet) usher in a new era for Rusty Wallace Racing, as the team turns to Chevrolet.

The NASCAR Nationwide Series garage opens at 7 a.m. and closes at 5:30 p.m. each day. Practices will be held from 9 a.m. to noon and 1-5 p.m. during the two three-day sessions. Fans can watch all sessions free from the Oldfield Grandstands located just outside of the Daytona 500 Experience. Tickets for any race events at Daytona International Speedway are available online at www.racetickets.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.

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 on Saturday, Jan. 19 when NASCAR Nationwide Series drivers will participate in the final Fan Fest of the testing sessions. Among the Fan Fest activities: Driver question-and-answer sessions, show cars, bands, a silent auction, displays and pit-stop demonstrations. The cost is $15. Fans can watch each day's test at no cost, beginning at 9 a.m.

Fast Facts

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

What: NASCAR Preseason Thunder testing for the 2008 Camping World 300 presented by Chevrolet

Where: Daytona International Speedway.

Track Layout: 2.5-mile tri-oval.

When: Friday, Jan. 18 through Sunday, Jan. 20.

Times: 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Who: Mike Wallace, Johnny Sauter, Brandon Miller, Clint Bowyer, Robert Richardson, David Green, Colin Braun, Kyle Busch, Mike McLaughlin, Tim McCreadie, Eric McClure, Brad Coleman, Brian Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Kenny Wallace, Dario Franchitti, Bryan Clauson, Carl Edwards, Cale Gale, Brad Keselowski, Danny O'Quinn Jr.

-credit: nascar

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