Teams take on Daytona testing

NASCAR Sprint Cup teams to test changes at Daytona International Speedway this week. Larry McReynolds

Obviously, there is no way to compare this year’s restrictor-plate car to those that raced in February last season with all the changes not only to the car, but at Daytona International Speedway as well.

Also, I think with the new nose on the cars this year that, in addition to the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Daytona, the teams will need to hit some of the intermediate tracks before everyone has a good feel for the change.

The thing to remember with the new surface at Daytona is that no one is going to have a bad-handling car. The grip is going to be phenomenal. The dozen or so teams that did the Goodyear tire test there in December already are saying that. So, in that aspect, Daytona will be a lot like Talladega Superspeedway.

That’s about the only similarity, however.

Daytona is narrower than Talladega. It is also less forgiving. It has sharper radiuses for getting into the corners. At Talladega, for instance, you turn the wheel very little, even in the turns. At Daytona, even though you can run it wide open, you have to turn the car down into the corner.

This is where guys are going to have to be a little smarter and on top of their game. It’s going to be very interesting.

I am excited that myself, Darrell Waltrip, Jeff Hammond, Steve Byrnes, Krista Voda and others will be down there Thursday through Saturday for the test session at Daytona. Those three days will give us a lot of insight into what to look for when we come back a couple weeks later for the start of SpeedWeeks.

Since there will be much more grip than ever at Daytona, like I mentioned, everyone’s car will drive really well. I think this three-day test will see the teams working on what they can do to make their cars go faster.

NASCAR has already announced that it has dropped the restrictor-plate size another 32nd of an inch in an attempt to slow the cars down. I know a 32nd of an inch doesn’t sound like much, but it equates to a reduction of 25 – 28 horsepower.

Less power and less throttle response will bunch these cars up into a bigger pack. I know the teams are looking forward to the single-car runs to see how fast they are, but I also know they all look toward the drafting sessions to see how the cars handle in the packs.

So it’s going to be dicey coming off Turns 2 and 4. That’s where the track narrows up, so I look for a lot of action there.

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