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NASCAR Notes: ‘Cool’ Cars At RIR

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, September 9 2010

The new Nationwide Series cars are on a short track for the first time this weekend in Richmond. (File photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

By Jeff Hood | Senior Writer

Richmond, Va. – The NASCAR Nationwide Series’ new car made its short track debut during a six-hour test at Richmond International Raceway on Thursday.

The new vehicle, which has a distinctive showroom look on the nose and tailpiece, has already seen action at Daytona and Michigan this season.

It will be in competition for the third time this season during Friday night’s Virginia College Savings Plan 250 at the .75-mile oval.

“It has a lack of grip compared to the old car, but other than that it’s fine,” said Paul Menard, one of 41 drivers who turned laps during the morning session. “Everybody is in the same boat.

“This new car is a cross between the old-style Nationwide car and a Sprint Cup COT.”

Kevin Harvick was complimentary of the added space in the car which benefits drive safety.

“It’s nice to have room inside the car, and that’s the best thing about what we’re doing,” he said. “We can squabble about the way it handles, but it looks cool.

“Everything about this car is cool.”

Learning curves: Brad Keselowski became the last driver to wheel the old-style Nationwide Series car to victory at Richmond with his win here in May.

Now, it’s back to the short track drawing board for the Nationwide Series points leader.

“We’re glad to come back to Richmond after the success we had in the spring, which makes it bittersweet,” said Keselowski, who finished third-quickest in the morning session. “Having a test day here will help us catch up.

“The (Dodge) Challenger seemed to run really well today.

“It’s nice to have a test day to make the cars better for the garage and to make the sport better. It allows us to develop a database and give feedback to NASCAR.”

Low speed tech: Time trials for last month’s Nationwide Series race in Michigan turned into a marathon as teams struggled to get through pre-qualifying technical inspection.

NASCAR is hoping to avoid a repeat at Richmond this weekend.

Friday morning’s Nationwide Series practice has been reduced by 50 minutes. And many teams are already working to pick up the pace before they encounter the height sticks in the tech line on Friday.

“We looked at the schedule and the amount of time the teams had a Michigan, and we’ve shortened up the third practice session (on Friday morning),” Nationwide Series director Joe Balash said on Thursday.

“And I watched a number of teams come through (on Wednesday) and early this morning and they spent some time practice going through the height stick process like they would before qualifying inspection.

“And I’m sure they’ll be some other cars, as they have some time today in their test plan, will roll across the height sticks and get a little bit practice doing that today.”

Balash added that the new car, which is also slated to compete at Charlotte next month, is still on schedule to run full-time in 2011 in NASCAR’s junior circuit.

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

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, September 9 2010
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