NASCAR Tests The Aero Of Its Ways
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Seven drivers took part in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series test at Daytona International Speedway Tuesday to evaluate and prepare aerodynamic baseline packages for January’s Preseason Thunder session, as well as Speedweeks 2012 and the 54th annual Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 26.
Teams participating were Hendrick Motorsports (Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Aric Almirola); Roush Fenway Racing (David Ragan and Marcos Ambrose); Joe Gibbs Racing (Joey Logano); Michael Waltrip Racing (Martin Truex Jr.) and NEMCO Motorsports (Joe Nemechek).
Once the track dried following an early morning rain shower, teams began turning laps at 11:45 a.m. The initial restrictor plate size was 29/32-inches and the initial spoiler size was 4.5-inches tall, 63 inches wide – same spoiler size for last July’s Cup race on the 2.5-mile layout. By day’s end, the size of the rear spoiler had been reduced to 3 inches tall by 62 inches wide. The smaller spoiler results in less downforce and drag, but still allows the cars to maintain high speeds and remain under control.
Earnhardt Jr., a 13-time race-winner at DIS, said the session was a “positive step in finding a solution to the drafting style” on the historic superspeedway.
“I didn’t anticipate finding a magical solution here today, but we’ll be much better off and a lot smarter
about things by having tested,” said Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet Impala. “This is just part of the work that needs to get done. There are a lot of creative minds out here. We’re learning what we need to know. I think we’re all in agreement that we probably won’t totally rid ourselves of the tandem racing, but I’m confident we can get to the point where it will not be the norm.”
Truex Jr., a two-time NASCAR Nationwide Series champion and solid restrictor plate racer, said there was a lot of mixing and matching going on in the garage.
“We tried several different packages out there today and what we’re trying to do is put an end to this two-car draft, or at least make it so we can only get together for a lap or two and have to switch or run in a pack,” said Truex Jr., driver of the No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry. “NASCAR is being smart about all of this and they’re going through some steps to see if the changes that we’re making will result in what they think they will be.”
John Darby, Sprint Cup Series director, said Tuesday’s test should help NASCAR formulate a solid baseline aerodynamic package teams can work on heading into January’s three-day test session at DIS, Jan. 12-14, 2012.
“One of our goals is to give the teams more options when it comes to how they draft, and we believe we’re headed in the right direction on that,” Darby said. “We want to be able to reduce the difference in the speeds between the tandem style of racing and more of the pack style of racing and we made a lot of good progress on that here today.”
Additionally, Earnhardt Jr. and Truex Jr. agreed the transition to Electronic Fuel Injection in Cup is progressing on-track. NASCAR will implement EFI beginning at Daytona next season.
“The computer guys like what they’ve seen so far with the EFI test and I’ll tell you what, when I’ve tested the EFI car, it drives as well or better than the carburetor cars,” Earnhardt Jr. said.
“To be honest with you, if you didn’t know it when you got into the car, you couldn’t tell a difference,” Truex Jr. said. “The only thing that’s different is the way it starts. You don’t have to pump the gas like a normal carburetor. You just flip the switch and crank it up like a street car.”
Testing will continue at DIS on Wednesday and Thursday as approximately 40 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series and Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge entries will turn laps on the 3.56-mile road course in preparation for the 50th anniversary of the Rolex 24 at Daytona on Jan. 28-29 and the GRAND-AM 200 Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge on Jan. 27.
Wednesday’s session will mark the public debut of the new Corvette Daytona Prototype, which was unveiled by Chevrolet Racing officials Tuesday during a news conference at DIS. The Corvette will make its competitive debut during the Rolex 24 in January. Four teams will campaign the ‘Vette in 2012: No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Racing; No. 10 SunTrust Racing; No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and the Nos. 5 and 9 Action Express Racing.
Among GRAND-AM teams expected to test are Brumos Porsche, Predator Performance/50+ Racing and AC/DC lead singer Brian Johnson, Michael Shank Racing, Stevenson Motorsports, Rum Bum Racing and Rebel Rock Racing.No Comment