First day of Watkins Glen testing ‘really slick’ for Sprint Cup teams

Sixteen NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams completed the first of a two-day organizational test session Tuesday at the newly repaved Watkins Glen International.

The biggest story of the day occurred when Brad Keselowski crashed his No. 2 Team Penske Ford hard after a brake failure going into Turn 1.

Thankfully, Keselowski was evaluated and released from the infield care center.

Austin Dillon, driver of the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, felt like speed and grip were the biggest takeaways after Tuesday’s session.

"It seems to be the same Watkins Glen, just with a lot of grip, Dillon said. "There’s a lot of speed out there, and it’s just how bad you want to go get it."

After a ninth-place finish in Sunday’s Crown Royal 400 at the Brickyard, Dillon is currently 12th in the points standings, 58 points ahead of 16th-place driver Kasey Kahne.

"It’s been fun. I’ve enjoyed it so far," added Dillon of the test session so far. "I do like the esses and all the grip it has up through there. We’re just trying to work on the car and get the stopping power better so I can brake harder and get into the corner faster."

AJ Allmendinger, driver of the No. 47 JTG Daugherty Chevrolet, noted the track was smooth, but it’s been tough to tell so far exactly how the track is going to be for the race on Aug. 7.


"The tire that’s with this pavement feels really hard and really slick," Allmendinger said. "You’re sliding around trying to get an understanding of what it’s going to take and how much grip is actually going to be available on the race track."

After a dismal 38th-place finish at Indianapolis and a recent string of bad luck, the 2014 Watkins Glen winner is 21st in the standings and in desperate need of a second career victory at the road course to make the Chase.

Allmendinger also noted how heavy rains on Monday night played a factor in what information drivers and teams were able to gather during the first session.

"It rained really hard last night, so for a repave, that’s a big deal washing all the rubber of the race track," added Allmendinger. "These repaves have a lot of grip in them, but when they’re completely green and there’s not a lot of rubber on it, it takes a while to get the grip back on the race track. Right now it’s really slick and it’s hard to find the set up. But, I think it will change a lot over the next day and a half as we put more rubber down."

Along with Allmendinger and Dillon, Clint Bowyer, Chris Buescher, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Matt DiBenedetto, Austin Dillon, Elliott, Brad Keselowski, Michael McDowell, Jamie McMurray, Casey Mears, Brian Scott, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Martin Truex Jr. are all participating in the two-day test.

Watkins Glen underwent a $12 million offseason repaving project, as new asphalt was laid down on the 2.45-mile NASCAR layout. It was the first full repave for the road course since 1989.

The final day testing will resume on Wednesday, with sessions from 9 a.m.- noon ET and 1-5 p.m. ET.