Drivers happy with early spoiler results

BY foxsports • March 23, 2010

Juan Pablo Montoya topped the speed chart during the first session of testing at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Tuesday morning with a fast lap of 185.976 mph (29.036 seconds), while times slowed in the afternoon.

The lap came before the team switched from the wing to the spoiler in an effort to set up comparisons for the test. But crew chief Brian Pattie said the difference between the two was not discernible.

Still, Montoya seemed pleased with the spoiler.

“It’s fine,” Montoya said. “The balance is a little bit different, but it’s not huge. We’ll have to see how it is when we get around other cars.”

Paul Menard posted the fastest lap during the afternoon session with a best lap of 185.312 mph (29.140 seconds). Menard’s crew chief Slugger Labbe said the only noticeable difference between the two versions of the car was the spoiler.

“The car doesn’t have the same balance as it did with the wing,” Labbe said. “But we used the same baseline set-up as we had at Charlotte in the past and it didn’t change much.” Labbe also reported that the car ran 42-lap (63 miles) fuel runs and the tires “looked great.”

Entering the test, NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton did not anticipate any issues with testing. On Tuesday he proved prophetic.

“There's been enough testing that's gone on with tire tests at Texas early in the year and some other things,” Pemberton said. “The confidence in the teams and their engineering, they show up at the racetrack and they're 90 percent ready. There's some guys out there that have only changed a couple of springs in five hours.

“The teams have done a pretty good job of being prepared for this. Plus it's a good surface to test on; it's still got a lot of grip, it's still relatively smooth so it's easy for their simulation work to match up.”

For Kasey Kahne, it was the first time he drove the new car with the spoiler as opposed to a wing — he was also one of two drivers testing out the Ford FR9 engine. Kahne, a three-time CMS winner, traditionally uses several points on the tracks (“on entry and the center of the corner”) for reference to measure for a baseline.

“The back of the car, the downforce and sideforce, all of that stuff matters when you’re racing cars,” said Kahne, who was 17th fast. “So far, I haven’t felt a big difference by myself. I think it’s somewhat similar with the spoiler and the wing. On the straightaways the speed is a little different because of the drag side of it, but the car probably handles pretty similar.

Martin Truex Jr. tested with his California car in the morning session. After 34 laps, Truex was 15th fastest and says he prefers the spoiler over the wing at Charlotte.

“I like it,” Truex said, “It feels good. We haven’t been in the draft yet, but it feels better to me. I feels more like the cars we always ran. The car is a little more ‘draggy’ so you let off the gas and it slows down. You don’t have to use the brake as much. It gets in the corner real nice — I don’t know if it’s just this car because I haven’t been here with this car.

“But I like it a lot. The car feels a lot better with the spoiler than the wing. For Charlotte, it definitely feels better.”

Win on Saturday, test on Tuesday

After winning his first Nationwide Series race Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway, Justin Allgaier experienced a little Sprint Cup testing action behind the wheel of the No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge.

Although Allgaier’s star is certainly on the rise, he doesn’t expect to make his Cup debut any time soon. Penske Racing has had the 23-year-old on the test schedule for a while, not only to give the youngster seat time but gather additional data for the Cup program as teams move from the wing to the spoiler.

While there’s a distinct difference in how the Cup car reacts compared to the NNS cars, Allgaier’s early reaction from the new car was the difference in speed over the handling characteristics.

“To drive an ARCA car for as many years as I did, it was a shock to go to a Nationwide car because I had horsepower similar to this car (Cup),” Allgaier said. “So to get back to it I thought, ‘Boy, this is what it’s supposed to feel like. This is good.’

“The cars definitely drive different, they handle different, but gee, it’s a lot of fun.”

Allgaier feels he’s at an advantage for when the opportunity comes to move to the next level of racing since he never had to adapt to the wing prior to the spoiler. On Monday, however, the key for the youngster was absorbing as much information as possible, particularly from his teammates.

“I try to ask all of them for little tidbits of help because it‘s important to learn as much as I can,” Allgaier said. “I want to know how do I make myself better. We’re not going to do anything setup-wise here to make me go blistering fast, we’re going to work more on something to help the teams at Penske racing.”

On a side note, Allgaier says the biggest change in his daily life since winning the NNS race on Saturday was his following on Facebook and Twitter.

“Overnight, my numbers went from 1,100 or 1,200 to 4,000,” Allgaier said.

Back to the drawing board

Goodyear hasn’t discovered any unusual wear during the early going in testing despite the change from the wing to the spoiler.

Considering that the change produces just slightly more front down force and teams are using the same right side tires that have run at Charlotte in the past with the left side combination from Las Vegas, Goodyear doesn’t expect the codes to differ.

That likely won’t be the case with the tire combination from last week at Bristol. Several drivers experienced problems throughout the weekend that couldn’t be blamed on set up alone.

“We’re going to go back and do some testing,” said Goodyear’s NASCAR project manager Rick Campbell. “We’re looking for a little more margin there. We need to look at what we need to fix then develop a plan.”

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