NASCAR

Testing, Toyota and the Car of Tomorrow

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Larry McReynolds

Larry McReynolds has more than 30 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, Daytona 500-winning crew chief and broadcaster. He earned 23 Sprint Cup wins as a crew chief, including two victories in the prestigious Daytona 500, as well as a pair of non-points victories in the annual all-star race. Follow him on Twitter.

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Testing 1, 2, 3

Greg from Marysville, Mich.: Just wondering when preseason practice is going to be held? I'm trying to talk the wife into a trip to see it, but I need dates! Please help me! Signed, Desperate in Michigan.

Larry McReynolds: Daytona Nextel Cup testing is scheduled to run from Monday, Jan. 8 through Wednesday, Jan. 10 with a Thursday, Jan. 11 rain date. It will resume Monday, Jan. 15 through Wednesday, Jan. 17 with a Thursday, Jan. 18 rain date. Practice goes from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. ET each day (with an hour break for lunch from noon to 1 p.m. ET). Jeff Hammond and I will attend a week apiece of testing, recapping what happened each day with Bob Dillner on SPEED. Daytona testing is a month away, and then there's the Las Vegas test on Jan. 29 and 30 with a Jan. 31 rain date. On Feb. 28 through March 1 with a March 2 rain date, Nextel Cup teams will have a Bristol test with the Car of Tomorrow. NASCAR has worked hard to dot every "i" and cross every "t," but the governing body and teams will be anxiously anticipating this test and the first COT race. The weather is making it a little hard to test at a lot of places right now, but I'd be willing to bet Greenville, S.C. and Lakeland, Fla. are getting a pretty good workout during the month of December with teams testing.

Toyota unknown

Don from Eight Mile, Ala.: OK, I know that people are fired up that Toyota is getting into NASCAR, but look at the jobs that a (foreign) manufacturer has for Americans. Yet, I am a little skeptical of what is going to happen, following Toyota's Indy/Formula One run — come in, dominate, and leave.... I think they are going to be welcomed into NASCAR....after a year....

PHOTOS: Toyota in NASCAR
2007 Camry

Toyota's '07 teams

DW at Camry announcement

Larry McReynolds: We certainly saw the same reaction when Toyota entered the Craftsman Truck Series. If they come in and don't make a lot of noise — which I really don't anticipate in the beginning — it will be a lot like the Trucks in 2004. Obviously, we know there's more ink and talk about it coming into Cup vs. the Truck Series in 2004, but it will dissipate in time. The next thing you know, people will not even think about it anymore. If they come out of the box and win three or four straight races, woe be unto us, but I don't see that happening. There's a lot of anticipation as we head into next year because there are so many unknowns. There are three Toyota organizations and seven race teams. Of those teams, only two are locked into the Daytona 500 — Dale Jarrett (past champion's provisional) and Dave Blaney (the No. 22 car is locked into the top 35 in owner points). Daytona is going to be tough because there probably will be over 60 race cars there. Unlike other races, the good thing is they will get two shots at making the show. They will have an opportunity to qualify on time, and then they will have an opportunity to race their way in during the Duel 150's on Thursday during Speedweeks so it's going to be a bit of a nail-biter.

Concerned about COT

Cheryl from Kansas City, Kan.: I have heard Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Eury Jr. are worried that they are behind when it comes to the Car of Tomorrow. What do you think on this issue? I have read that only the Hendrick camp has had their COT car approved by NASCAR. What happens if none of the other camps get theirs approved? Larry McReynolds: A lot of teams are concerned that they're behind on the Car of Tomorrow. It's first race is scheduled to be Bristol on March 25 (on FOX), which will be here before you know it. A lot of teams purposely dragged their feet on the Car of Tomorrow so they wouldn't have to go through a bunch of different changes as NASCAR continues to tweak it. While several Car of Tomorrow chassis have been presented to NASCAR, and only one or so has been approved, it's only December. I'm sure NASCAR is working closely with all of the manufacturers and teams to accelerate this process. Once they go through it once or twice, the process will become much easier for NASCAR and the teams.

Speed Mail Larry McReynolds

Jason from Austin, Texas: Larry, do you feel that any of the teams are making more headway on the COT than others? Sounds like some teams are really getting behind the concept and pumping money and time into getting it ready for 2007, and others are just complaining about the switch. Larry McReynolds: There are definitely teams that have put more effort into the Car of Tomorrow than other teams for various reasons. Some organizations tried to stay focused on 2006 and not be side-tracked by the Car of Tomorrow. As I mentioned above, I know for a fact that teams and organizations were dragging their feet until everything was cast in stone. But Petty Enterprises, in particular, has put on a full-court press with the Car of Tomorrow, almost since Day 1. They may be thinking that it will give them a head-start on the COT, regardless of what NASCAR changes and moves around over the course of time.


FOX race analyst Larry McReynolds has more than 25 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, crew chief and broadcaster. He and his fellow Crew Chief Club members take you behind the wall at www.crewchiefclub.com.

"How to Become a Winning Crew Chief" is on bookstore shelves, or you may order your own autographed copy from www.DWStore.com.

Tagged: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Dale Jarrett, Dave Blaney

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