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Nationwide’s Future Tests Talladega

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, November 2 2009
The 2010 Nationwide Series cars took to the track at Talladega Monday for a test session.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)

The new Nationwide Series cars took to the track at Talladega Monday for a test session. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Talladega, Ala. – Eight drivers got a glimpse at the future of the NASCAR Nationwide Series on Monday during a six-hour test of the circuit’s new car at Talladega Superspeedway.

James Buescher, Jeff Burton, Kevin Harvick and Kelly Bires shook down Chevrolet Impalas as Justin Allgaier logged laps in Dodge’s new Challenger.

Roush Fenway Racing’s Colin Braun and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. turned laps in a pair of Ford Mustangs, while Trevor Bayne lapped the 2.66-mile tri-oval in a Toyota Camry.

Non-drafting speeds topped out at around 190 miles per hour.

“We’re excited about the look of the car,” Nationwide Series director Joe Balash said Monday afternoon. “We want the Nationwide car to drive differently than a Sprint Cup car.

“And I think we’re achieving those goals with what we’re doing with the suspension, the spoiler on the back, the way we have our splitter designed and the way we were able to add a little more drag to the cars and put a little more detail into the look of the car.

“We’re very luck to be the No. 2 motorsports in North America, and we want to have a unique identity. And I think this car will give that to us in both the look of the car and the way the car drives.”

Following several single car runs during the first two hours, drivers slowly began running in two and three car packs.

“Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton were the first to go out in a little bit of a draft session,” NASCAR director of cost research Brett Bodine said. “And one of the comments that really stuck in my mind right away was ‘this car definitely is going to drive better the current Nationwide car on the speedways.’

“And that’s great coming from drivers that have a lot of experience out here. That’s just going to bode to great competition and, certainly, great racing when we do finally get to race this car at Daytona next July.”

With two hours remaining in the session, Burton’s No. 29 Chevrolet experienced minimal hood damage while drafting. The hood suffered a slight indention when the air forced the hood inward toward the engine.

That prompted NASCAR officials to make a slight modification to the cars’ rear spoiler.

NASCAR had already decided to stay away from the Sprint Cup style wing on the new Nationwide car.

“As you do the work in the wind tunnel and find out the similarities there actually are between the wing and the spoiler, we looked at the packaging for the Nationwide car as being a unique opportunity and to drive some difference between the two garages,” Balash said.

“And the spoiler allowed us to do that.”

The new Nationwide spoiler includes some technology borrowed from NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series.

“We have taken some engineer cues off of what the truck series does,” Balash said. “At the end of our spoilers, we have a two inch by 12 inch extension that’s on there. And that helps with the balance of the car in the package we’re working with.”

Balash  would not confirm additional test dates except to say that tracks will open a day earlier in 2010 on the weekends the new cars will run.

He said tracks will open one day early for practice next year during the five weekends when the new cars will be in competition.

Bodine said he’s confident the Nationwide Series will continue to host a full field of cars as the new cars are eased into competition.

“There’s been a great response from the underfunded teams in the garage area as far as the availability of using current inventory from the Cup teams by purchasing cars that have been used and able to get a fleet together to meet the rollout schedule,” Bodine said.

– Jeff Hood can be reached at jhood@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, November 2 2009
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