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Racin’ Notes: New Daytona Surface To Get Big Test

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Wednesday, December 8 2010

The new surface at Daytona will get a big test next Wednesday and Thursday. (Photo courtesy of Daytona International Speedway)

The repaving is finished at Daytona International Speedway and the testing of the new surface is about to begin.

DIS officials said Tuesday that at least 18 NASCAR drivers will be on the track for next week’s (Wednesday and Thursday) test session.

The test is officially being call a tire test and it is being conducted by Goodyear, but the event will also give drivers their first experience with the surface. It will also allow them to begin collecting data for Speed Weeks in February.

“I know for us at Penske Racing with the 2 and the 22,” Kurt Busch, who will particiapte in the test, said, “we need to be there on track, gathering data, understanding as much as we

Driver Max Papis took an early look at the new asphalt and gave it a thumbs up.

can about the new surface at Daytona.  We know that it’s the most prestigious race for us all year long, and if we can come out of the gates strong, we need to have as many test sessions at tracks as we can get, and that means tracks that we race on.”

Among other drivers in the test are Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., David Ragan, Brad Keselowski, Todd Bodine, Jeff Burton, Juan Pablo Montoya, Matt Kenseth, Bill Elliott and Paul Menard.

Also on hand will be NASCAR officials, including Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition.

Work began on the new surface shortly after the July 3rd Sprint Cup race at DIS.

The track surface had begun to age and actually come up. During the 2010 Daytona 500, the race had to be red flag and delayed when a pot hole developed.

Briscoe to sports cars: IndyCar Series driver Ryan Briscoe of Australia has been named to join Max Angelelli and Ricky Taylor behind the wheel of the No. 10 SunTrust Chevrolet Dallara prototype of Wayne Taylor Racing at the 2011 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona.

Briscoe, teammate of Helio Castroneves and Will Power on the three-car Penske Racing team in the IZOD IndyCar Series, is no stranger to the SunTrust Racing team as the 2011 renewal

Ryan Briscoe, who won the IndyCar Series race at Texas Motor Speedway earlier this year, will be in a Daytona Prototype in the Rolex 24 next month. (Photo courtesy of the IZOD IndyCar Series)

of the twice-around-the-clock endurance classic on the 3.56-mile Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway road circuit will be his seventh career Rolex Series event and his fifth Rolex 24.

“We are obviously very much looking forward to having Ryan in the SunTrust car with Max and Ricky because it truly gives us a driver lineup that can deliver a win for SunTrust Racing,” said team owner Wayne Taylor, who co-drove with Angelelli in the SunTrust Racing machine to win the 2005 edition of the Rolex 24 en route to that year’s Rolex Series championship. “I think we’ll have one of the strongest lineups in the entire field, and with our new Chevrolet engine, I think we’ll have a very good chance.

“Three years ago, we had Ryan in the SunTrust lineup but, unfortunately, he didn’t have the chance to drive because Emmanuel (Collard) had an accident in the early part of the race that ended our weekend. But he drove to a podium finish for us in the Penske-Taylor Racing car in 2008, and came back in 2009 with another strong finish in the Penske car. The really neat thing is that he already has a good relationship with Max and Ricky, and having been a representative for SunTrust the last few years, it’ll be like a family affair.”

Briscoe teamed with Castroneves and two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kurt Busch to score a third-place finish in the 2008 Rolex 24 in the No. 9 Penske-Taylor Racing entry. In 2009, Briscoe finished sixth alongside Penske Racing Rolex Series regulars Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas at the Rolex 24. He made his first appearance at the endurance marathon in 2005, co-driving to a seventh-place finish with Scott Pruett and Luis Diaz in the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates entry.

“I’m excited to be back with the SunTrust team once again,” said Briscoe, who has finished in the top-five in the season-ending points during the last three IndyCar Series seasons with six victories over that span. “I’ve had a great working relationship with SunTrust over the last several years and, to be back in their racecar with such a strong driver-car combination in such a prestigious racing event, I’m confident that we can be there fighting for the win at the end. The Rolex 24 is definitely something that every road racer would like to win, and I think we have a good chance with the SunTrust team in 2011.”

Briscoe was entered in three events with the SunTrust team during the 2006 Rolex Series season. An early race accident prevented him from ever getting in the car at the season-opening Rolex 24, but he came back to drive to consecutive podium finishes later that year at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International – a third-place finish co-driving with Angelelli and Wayne Taylor in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, and a second-place finish co-driving with Angelelli in the August 200-mile sprint race.

The 49th Rolex 24 At Daytona is set for Jan. 29-30. Briscoe will also join the SunTrust team at the annual Roar Before the 24 Test Days at Daytona Jan. 7-9. The SunTrust team in 2011 will look to improve on last year’s second-place finish in the Rolex Series standings – its sixth top-three finish in the final points in the seven seasons since it joined the circuit in 2004, a stretch highlighted by the series championship for SunTrust Racing in 2005.

CMS recruiting: Recruiting is underway for the 2011 edition of the Charlotte Motor Speedway Fan Council.

The Fan Council consists of 30 members who serve one-year terms.  Members are encouraged to share their experiences, offer ideas for improvement and help shape the creation of new

Marcus and Bruton Smith are looking for help in Charlotte. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

programs and initiatives to improve the fan experience at Charlotte Motor Speedway, zMAX Dragway and The  
Dirt Track at Charlotte.

Fans interested in serving on the council are invited to download the application from the speedway’s website, www.charlottemotorspeedway.com, and submit the form by Jan. 3, 2011.

Formed in August 2008, the Charlotte Motor Speedway Fan Council gathers feedback from a cross-section of fans to determine possible changes at the various facilities. Throughout the year, council members join speedway management for conference calls, participate in surveys after events, attend meetings at the speedway during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event weekends and participate in online fan forums.

“Our mission is always to put fans first at Charlotte Motor Speedway and the Fan Council enhances our ability to do that,” said Marcus Smith, president and general manager of CMS. “We’re now able to communicate directly with our fans and gather their ideas to improve the at-track experience for everyone. The Fan Council has made suggestions that have resulted in some of our most fan-friendly enhancements over the past two years.”

Previous Fan Council suggestions have included a play area for children that resulted in creation of the Powerade Play Zone; more interaction with drivers, which led to NASCAR Nationwide Series fan  
autograph sessions and more viewing screens, which led to installation of the largest video board in the world _ the Panasonic HD Video Board _ along the backstretch.

Questions about the Fan Council can be e-mailed to fancouncil@charlottemotorspeedway.com.

More awards: Jimmie Johnson’s come-from-behind drive to an unprecedented fifth consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship has been voted the sport’s top competition story for 2010 by members of the media.

The media poll was active from Tuesday, Nov. 30, until Monday, Dec. 6, at noon. Twenty-one

Continues to collect post-season awards. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR)

top competition storylines were listed in the poll. First-place votes received 21 points, with second-place votes receiving 20 points, third-place votes 19 points and so forth down to one point for a 21st-place vote.

Johnson’s historic accomplishment of winning five straight Sprint Cup titles for Hendrick Motorsports – while overcoming a 15-point deficit in the season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway – garnered 49 first-place votes and finished with 1,449 points.

Somewhat surprisingly, NASCAR’s “Boys, have at it” philosophy – issued last January and setting the tone for the season – finished second with 17 first-place votes and 1,294 points.

Denny Hamlin’s persistence after battling back from early-season knee surgery, challenging for the Sprint Cup championship, winning a series-high eight races and finishing a career-best second in the standings for Joe Gibbs Racing ranked third.

Kyle Busch’s rush to 24 combined national series victories _ including an unprecedented sweep of the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck events at Bristol Motor Speedway in August _ was selected the fourth top story. Busch drove for Joe Gibbs Racing in Sprint Cup and Nationwide events and for his first-year Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Truck Series.

Jamie McMurray’s breakout season for Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing, which saw him win the Daytona 500, Brickyard 400 and Bank of America 500, was voted the fifth top story.

Here are the remaining top-10 highlights of 2010, according to the media:

– Richard Childress Racing returning to prominence with Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton qualifying for the Chase for the Sprint Cup;

–  Elimination of the raised rear wing and return of the spoiler to Cup Series cars;

– Introduction of a maximum of three restart attempts prior to the white flag under NASCAR’s green-white-checkered flag finish;

– Brad Keselowski winning the Nationwide Series title, providing owner Roger Penske with his first NASCAR championship;

– And the most competitive season in NASCAR Sprint Cup history, with records for lead changes and leaders.

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Wednesday, December 8 2010
One Comment

One Comment »

  • Terry says:

    A Tire Test…HHHMMMM…does this mean if the car isn’t handling right they ONLY CHANGE THE TIRES?….no wrenchs?…yeah right…
    Some where BANJO and Smokey are having one hell’uva laugh….
    Will Ford be sporting the new nose at the test?
    Trevor now instead of Bill? Enquiring minds want to know.
    That said….
    New asphalt….having layed state highway for the Volunteer State summers in my youth……is really oily…
    They are not going to get a huge surprise the first race..still cool….but that second one this first year is going to be more to Stewart-Biffle’s liking than most of the others….NO MATTER what tire you use.