Red-hot Kevin Harvick leads Thursday test at Las Vegas
Kevin Harvick, winner of Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway, was the fastest of 48 drivers setting times during a special four-hour open test session Thursday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Stewart-Haas Racing competition director Greg Zipadelli (left) talks with Kevin Harvick on Thursday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Harvick, winner of Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway, was the fastest of 48 drivers setting times during a special four-hour open test session Thursday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
NASCAR gave the Sprint Cup teams the extra practice to get their cars dialed into the fast 1.5-mile track in preparation of Sunday's Kobalt Tools 400. Las Vegas is the first of 11 Cup races on 1.5-mile circuits this season, and with a new aerodynamic package for the cars this year, the sanctioning body decided to give the teams a chance to test prior to racing.
That Harvick's No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet topped the speed charts at 190.148 miles per hour was no surprise. Harvick was fast during winter testing and dominated last weekend's race at the 1-mile Phoenix circuit.
The speeds were not necessarily indicative of how the cars will race on Sunday, as some teams made runs in qualifying trim, which is optimized for a single fast lap, while the majority of the cars testing ran in race trim only.
Harvick said he was pleased with his day.
"I thought it went really well," Harvick said. "We struggled in the beginning just to get the feel. It took us a couple of hours to kind of get everything situated and get the balance of the car right. Then we felt pretty good about it after that. Changed a lot of stuff and did a lot of different things to the car. Felt like we made good headway in the end, and hopefully we can progress on that (Friday) and make it even better."
Gene Stefanyshyn, NASCAR's vice president of innovation and racing development, said chassis development for the teams remains a work in progress.
"I think the aero piece of it, it's pretty much set," said Stefanyshyn. "It's just a matter of getting the driver to find the limit and feeling comfortable with the aero, but the chassis, the engineers will play around with it for a while until that settles down. Then, the driver will begin to find the sweet spot and get comfortable. Probably it will take -- probably we won't have a good feeling where all this lands until we get about three (races) under our belt, and that would be the Texas race. That's the way I'm feeling."