NASCAR Wraps Up Preseason Thunder at California Speedway FONTANA, Calif. (February 3, 2005) - More than 60 teams participated in the NASCAR Preseason Thunder testing at California Speedway this week. The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers wrapped...
NASCAR Wraps Up Preseason Thunder at California Speedway
FONTANA, Calif. (February 3, 2005) - More than 60 teams participated in the NASCAR Preseason Thunder testing at California Speedway this week. The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers wrapped up their two-day test at the 2-mile, D-shaped oval on Thursday while the NASCAR Busch Series tested earlier in the week.
With the conclusion of testing, the teams will roll right into Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway, including the Gatorade Dual 150's and the season opening Daytona 500. Then, in less than a month NASCAR will head back to California Speedway for the second race of the season, the Auto Club 500, on February 27.
"After two days here, I think we gained a lot," said Bobby Labonte, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet and. "I think when we get home we're going to try some things. We still need to be better. Our cars need to be a little bit faster on the get go, more consistent. But I think we can make that happen."
The Corpus Christi, Texas native knows how to get around at California Speedway. Not only was he the 2001 pole sitter at the superspeedway, but also has garnered five top 10 finishes.
Michael Waltrip, driver of the No. 15 NAPA Chevrolet, is pleased with the West Coast swing of NASCAR's testing. "I think the testing was good. Our Goodyear tires were exactly what we asked of them, like always. I felt very optimistic about our testing and learned a lot about the car. Now we have to go home and dissect it all."
On the Garage side of testing, Crew Chief Lance McGrew with the No. 25 GMAC Chevrolet piloted by Brian Vickers also had a successful test session even with the new tire for 2005. "Everything's fine. We're just trying to shake down a couple new cars, get a little idea of what the tire combinations are going to do for us. It seems to be that the tire falls off real quick, a lot like Darlington. You go out and you run a few laps, and the tires fall off a whole bunch of times. You continuously lose grip all over your run," he said.
"The Auto Club 500 is definitely going to be a challenging race," McGrew said. "After you run 20, 25 laps on the tires, you'll be hanging on for the rest of the time. I think the pit may come into play with people short pitting and getting a lot of track position back. It's kind of hard to tell just yet."
No official speeds were kept during the test sessions on the West Coast. Thursday's activities saw Dale Earnhardt Jr's engine fail during afternoon track action and Jeff Burton and Bobby Labonte hit the wall during separate practices.
The stars of NASCAR return to California Speedway for the Auto Club 500 on February 27. Tickets for the weekend are on sale and start as low as $30. For more information, call 800-944-RACE  or visit www.californiaspeedway.com.