Monday's Session Includes Initial Single-Car And Drafting Sessions Talladega Test The First Stop Of A Busy Week For Chase For The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Competitors DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 10, 2007) -- It's a whirlwind week for NASCAR NEXTEL Cup...
Monday's Session Includes Initial Single-Car And Drafting Sessions Talladega Test The First Stop Of A Busy Week For Chase For The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Competitors
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 10, 2007) -- It's a whirlwind week for NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series competitors, who completed the season's 26th event last Saturday at Richmond International Raceway and now find themselves hundreds of miles south -- at Talladega Superspeedway.
Monday marked the first day of a two-day test at Talladega, which will host the series' first Car of Tomorrow restrictor-place event on Oct. 7 -- the UAW-Ford 500.
Under hot, sunny skies, teams prepared to make history, embarking on single-car runs during the morning session and one hour during the afternoon session. The bulk of Monday afternoon was reserved for drafting.
And curiosity ruled, both under the hood and in the driver's seat.
"Well, I really didn't notice that much difference," said Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Chevrolet) of the comfort factor. "Not really as much as what I thought. Of course, you feel a lot of wind buffering in this car versus the other car, just with the huge hole that it punches in the air. Really, other than that, the way it actually steers and everything is not that much different."
The Car of Tomorrow -- NASCAR's next-generation race car that will compete fulltime in 2008 -- is being used in 16 of 36 events this season. The UAW-Ford 500 will be the 14th of those 16 events, and the longest thus far. Talladega's propensity for exciting side-by-side racing is its signature, and much of this week's work will be fine-tuning set-ups.
"I think there are just a lot more unknowns than typically coming here with just how the car's going to race," said Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet). "You know, so far the car drives really well and everything seems to be fine. So it's just a matter of not having 500 miles with the engine and with the car -- basically having nothing on the racetrack for that period of time. Obviously, you can do all the testing that you want, but you can't really ever put it in race condition."
A one-inch restrictor plate is being used for this week's test, and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Director John Darby said a final decision on plate size has yet to be made.
"We're working really hard to stay with the one-inch plate," he said. "Overall speeds will ultimately make the decision."
A total of 52 series teams are testing on Talladega's high-banked, 2.66-mile tri-oval. It's the sixth of seven NASCAR-scheduled series tests in 2007 and the third dedicated to the Car of Tomorrow (previous tests for the new car took place at Bristol Motor Speedway and Richmond International Raceway).
The UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega on Oct. 7 is also the fourth event in the 2007 Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup -- the battle for the series title that takes place during the season's final 10 events. Five of those events will be run with the new car.
Racking Up The Miles ... After laying down innumerable testing laps Monday and Tuesday at Talladega, 12 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup drivers head for New York City on Thursday to participate in the fourth annual Chase Media Day in New York City.
Thursday's busy schedule involves major media appearances for all 12 Chase participants, including visits with local, regional and national media. From there, it's a quick trip north for the first Chase event, Sunday's Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire.
"We'll all have to go straight from here to New York, then to Loudon; so it's tough," said Denny Hamlin, the Chase's sixth-seeded driver. "But, you know, we'd rather be in this situation than people not being invited to New York this week. So really you got to just suck it up. We know that the end is in sight; we've just got to dig down deep to get it."
Reigning series champion Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) begins the Chase as the top seed, based on the 10 bonus points earned for each of his series-high six victories.
"The one thing that I've learned is you look at it on paper and you think 10 races, that's a short period of time," Johnson said "But when you're living it daytoday, that's a long 10 races. It's two, three months of racing. So it's long, and you've got to set a pace that you can maintain and keep. And I think that's something that the 48's good at doing."
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Testing Fast Facts
What: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Testing.
Where: Talladega Superspeedway.
Track Layout: 2.66-mile tri-oval.
When: Monday and Tuesday.
Times: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. ET both days.
Who: 52 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series teams