With the Daytona’s Preseason Thunder Gen-Six testing underway there’s already a lot of enthusiasm from drivers, teams and fans!
The much anticipated testing of NASCAR‘s Generation-Six car at Daytona brings a rush of excitement and leaves everyone anxious for more as we contemplate the beginning of the season in February. In fact, the word of day has been “excitement,” from every corner of the NASCAR arena.
Notes & Quotes from Daytona offers fans, bits and quips of the sights and sounds from the World Center of Racing and Worthy of Note commentary to keep you in the loop with all the flurry of action and reactions from on and off the track. So stay tuned for updates for each day.
Preseason Thunder Day 2
The 2013 Gen-6 testing continues Friday with teams running single-car laps around Daytona International Speedway in the morning session. Watch for day two morning and afternoon session summaries and full results later today.
Day 2 morning highlights include the RCR organization continuing their rebound at Daytona with Jeff Burton and Kevin Harvick surging to the top of the charts this morning.
Also this morning’s session included two yellow flags, one for debris and the other resulting in the first Gen-6 crash of 2013. That crash ended Tommy Baldwin Racing‘s testing session early, when Dave Blaney hit the the outside wall on his exit of turn 2, damaging the right side of his No. 36 Chevy.
“We’re out for day,” said team owner Tommy Baldwin. “But we’ll return in February.”
Worthy of Note: Even the better funded teams have a limited number of Gen-6 cars available, with more still in production. Teams at Daytona’s test sessions do not have a back up car available, if their car is damaged in testing. As a result, some drivers are being cautious and tentative in testing their Gen-6 cars.
Anticipation mounts for teams as they consider the potential of testing their cars in larger packs this afternoon.
Drivers and teams will return to the track this afternoon and fans can watch the action on SPEED 1-5pm ET.
Afternoon Breaking News: While testing the draft in pack racing conditions, this afternoon, the “Big One” hit at Daytona when Marcos Ambrose turned down as Earnhardt Jr was accelerating in anticipation of going around Ambrose, resulting in Earnhardt nipping the back fender of Ambrose’s No. 9 car and damaging several Gen-6 cars with no time to react including, Kahne and Gordon with Hendrick Motorsports, 2012 Sprint Cup champion Keselowski and his Penske teammate, Logano, Kyle Busch from Joe Gibbs Racing, Almirola at Richard Petty Motorsports, Regan Smith with Phoenix Racing, Edwards from Roush Fenway Racing, Martin Truex Jr at Michael Waltrip Racing and Jamie McMurray from Earnhardt Ganassi Racing.
Worthy of Note: While several teams were testing pack racing in the afternoon session today, five-time champion, Jimmie Johnson and his team – along with a few others – were parked in the garage, opting to skip any pack racing and draft testing. While those teams, heavy damage, involved in this afternoon’s ‘big one’ are heading home, those teams parked in the garage will continue single car testing for the remainder of the day.
Martin Truex Jr, when asked about what was the biggest thing he learned from drafting in the big pack?
“The biggest thing was just how the draft was working kind of more like it used to be. There were no two-car tandems. It was somewhat difficult to get on a guy’s bumper and push him, but again you get that little air bubble between you and you could get a guy rolling and get a guy moving in front of you and give him some good momentum and make some passes. It was cool being able to back up off the leader and get runs and take the lead and do things like you used to do. It was a little bit more strategy involved than just holding it wide open and hitting the guy in front of you as hard as you could, so I thought it was cool. It was a lot of fun and I think it’s going to put on a great show when we come back down here.”
Mark Martin, when asked about what happened to cause the accident on the race track?
“I was very close to being in it. I was the first car back from (Dale Earnhardt) Junior when it all started out in front of Junior’s car. It’s a Daytona thing. That’s Daytona. That doesn’t have nothing to do with the new cars or anything else. That’s just normal Daytona stuff.”
Kyle Busch, when asked about having Matt Kenseth as a teammate.
“Matt’s (Kenseth) been good. He’s got a lot of experience and a lot of leadership and been around for a while and won a championship. So, it’s good to lean on a guy like that and talk to a guy like that and have somebody in your corner like that. We had it with (Tony) Stewart when he was at JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) and he was really, really good and then he moved on to his own deal. Now that Matt is there, I think that kind of replaces Stewart a little bit. Matt’s a little bit more low key about his business than Stewart may be.”
Jimmie Johnson, when asked about changes on his team and if Hendrick is playing catch up over other teams?
“Our situation is a lot like anyone else. We’ll be able to hopefully get prepared faster than most and wehre are most concerned is if we get into the season and we start crashing cars, especially your down force cars. There are a lot of mile and a halves at the start of the season and you can be out of inventory of race cars pretty quick. That’s the thing that concerns me the most, but if there is any company that can deal with it, it will be ours.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr, when asked about any indications on how these cars will lineup in the draft? This question was asked prior to the day two afternoon session
“I don’t really know what the cars will do in the draft. I expect them to be really similar to the old cars at Daytona. They have a splitter; they have relatively the same package in the back. There is a lot less downforce, so I don’t know what that is going to do, how the cars may handle. We might be able to get cars moving around and guys getting loose having to work on getting the cars tied into the race track, which would be good. That is what made Daytona a lot of fun was when the surface was really slick and you actually had to work on the handle of the car.”
Matt Kenseth, Two-time Daytona 500 winner, when asked about any of the manufacturers having an advantage?
” Somebody asked me yesterday about Brad (Keselowski) saying that Toyota’s have an advantage, which I have no idea how he would know that or think that this early since nobody has raced one of these cars yet. I don’t really think so. I think they are matched pretty good. NASCAR keeps a pretty close eye on everything and the template tolerances and stuff are extremely close, so I think everybody is going to be as close as ever.”
Greg Biffle, when asked if there is any cause for concern that Fords haven’t been as fast as the other manufacturers?
“I wish that we were higher on the speed chart for sure but I don’t think it is cause for concern. I think our car is reasonably fast. We know some of those cars up there did full qualifying runs. Pushed out completely taped off and we didn’t do that. We know that we have a couple tenths of speed in that part of it. That would move us up into the top-five. I don’t think there is any reason to panic at this point. I think we are pretty close.”
Ricky Stenhouse Jr, two-time Nationwide series champion, now racing in Sprint Cup full-time in 2013 when asked ‘how are things going so far?”
“We have a test plan when we come and Scott (Graves) and the guys are just taking that test plan and running through changes and we are kind of getting a pile of good things…We lack a little bit of speed right now. I think us and Carl (Edwards) are about the same. Greg (Biffle seems to be pretty quick, so we will go back and look at their things and look at our things and come back ready to go. I think we are anxious to get drafting this afternoon most of all.”
Preseason Thunder and Reign: Talk of Gen-6 Car Rules Day 1
New faces with new teams and new cars were on display during Day 1 of Preseason Thunder at Daytona, but one storyline dominated – The Gen-6 car is sleek and fast.
Following Thursday’s afternoon session, NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton spoke about how the collective effort of the industry has been key to the Gen-6 car’s development.
“We have been working on this car for nearly two years and we have been at the track on and off for well over a year in different stages and forms and configurations of the car,” Pemberton said. “Because of the depth of everybody, throughout out entire industry, we were able to take these things and put a long lead time in them and develop a better product.”
John Darby, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series director, reiterated the positive feelings about the new car, and was particularly impressed with the close competition during Thursday’s test.
“When you look at the enormity of the project … and basically putting three brand-new models of race cars out on a race track … and put speeds up that are within a tenth of a second of each other – it is an incredible, incredible effort,” Darby said. “I truly believe there is not another racing series in the world that could accomplish what these guys did since we left Homestead.”
Get morning and afternoon summaries with full results… Daytona Preseason Thunder Testing – Day One
“Everybody is super excited about this race car and what it brings to our sport and the identity that it brings back to the passenger cars you see on the roads,” said Clint Bowyer. “This is my first time I’ve been in it. I didn’t do the Charlotte test so it was fun to get out there and see what it was all about. They’re certainly cool looking. (It’s great) to see everybody’s cars down here and be back to racing.”
Carl Edwards, hopes to use Preseason Thunder to kick start 2013 after a disappointing 2012 season. Edwards missed the Chase for the Sprint Cup after finishing second in 2011.
“I couldn’t be looking forward to it more,” Edwards said. “I think it will be an exciting year for me. I would like to put last year out of my memory and not think about it too much. Not in the last few years have I been this excited to go racing. I think it is probably because of my offseason has been a little longer than most. I didn’t go to Vegas (for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week) so I have been ready to go.”
Worthy of note: The grille on Ford’s Gen-6 car is unique from both Chevrolet and Toyota, which have one-dimensional sticker grilles on their cars. Ford has designed a 3-dimensional grille which was approved by NASCAR for the 2013 season.
Jeff Gordon, gave his thoughts when asked if he was looking forward to there being more Manufacturers lobbying in NASCAR again.
“This car that we have here, where I think they’ve gotten very smart is, they each have their own identity and they’re great looking cars, but the important aspects that keep the cars as equal as possible are the same. The greenhouse, how that air meets that rear spoiler,” said Gordon. “Even the noses have different characteristics to them and in the wind tunnel they are all very, very close. I may be wrong, but until we get through some races I don’t think we’ll really, really know. Usually by this point, if we felt like we were at a big disadvantage, you would already be hearing about it.”
Denny Hamlin, tells it like it is, about testing this new car and differences, but is also optimistic about the outlook for racing at Daytona and other tracks.
“This body style – we’re just trying to figure out where is the happy spot. Does it want to be straight behind the other car? Do you want to be offset a little bit? Really it seems like the back of the car gets a lot of air to it,” said Hamlin. “It essentially makes it hard to suck up to the front car, which I think will bode well for our competition at other race tracks going forward where the front car doesn’t have such a huge advantage. That part of it is pretty optimistic. It definitely will lend more to pack racing versus two-car tandem.”
Worthy of Note: Hamlin’s track time on day one is at a premium as he will not be participating the next two days of testing. Hamlin returned to Charlotte, NC at the end of day one to be with his girlfriend, as they are expecting the arrival of their first child any day.
Danica Patrick, talks about the changes happening this year, coming full-time to Sprint Cup and with a brand new car.
“I think for me as a first year full-time in Sprint Cup, I think that a new car is probably a positive for me. Everybody is starting off on sort of a little bit more of a level playing field,” Patrick said. “Who knows, maybe this new car will play into my driving style better than the old one… I have heard it drives a little bit more like a Nationwide car, so maybe it will be something that will be more familiar to me. I think that especially with a new car, being a new driver, I’m not going to be looking for a feeling that the old car gave me; because I don’t really know it that well. Especially going with Tony Gibson and the guys the last couple of races with some different set-ups, I think that we will be starting with a clean sheet of paper for this year. I think that could be a real positive.”
Tony Stewart, is great at being Tony Stewart as he responds to how things went on the track and his outlook for the season. He leaves little doubt about how he feels about the Car of Tomorrow – NASCAR’s generation-five car.
“We are excited obviously. We have a lot of work to do to get all three teams ready for the year with the new body changes, so far so good,” said Stewart. “The big thing is just getting here and seeing the new look of the cars; I think it really looks good. It’s nice to see. I’m glad we finally got away from the Car of Tomorrow that wasn’t… It is nice to get back to cars that look like production cars again.”
Making his Ford Racing debut on the track was defending series champion, Brad Keselowski, piloting the No. 2 Blue Deuce Ford Fusion as Penske Racing made its first official on track appearance since rejoining the Ford stable.
“We are all working hard to figure out things together. Track time helps us to work through that and so far we are getting track time in. We might not be as fast as we want, but somebody told me that Ford stands for “first on race day,” and it isn’t race day yet so we don’t have to worry about that yet.”
On the Ford partnership between Roush and Penske
“I would rather get beat by another Ford and run second or third than run 17th and be the best Ford,” said Keselowski. “In order for that to work out, there has to be a level of cooperation and I think we all see that. It is just a matter of defining what that level is.”
On being eager to get out there this morning, but low on the speed charts
“I am not happy not being fast, I can tell you that, but you try to put it in perspective of how much work is yet to be done over the next month or month-and-a-half,” said Keselowski. “Being first on the track, that is something Paul really prides himself and that is our little way of needling the competition to say that even if we aren’t fastest, we are going to be the first ones on it. I have a group of committed guys that want to do that.”
On tempering any frustrations as his team takes on all of this change
“If you win a championship you are going to come to the next year with extremely high expectations. I don’t think that will surprise anyone in the room,” said Keselowski, the 2012 Sprint Cup champion. “For me, you have to look at our history, and we have been a second half team the last two or three seasons and I would expect nothing different this year… I am also nervous that if we start strong, we won’t be good the second half. We will see how it plays out. I feel like I don’t want to build in an excuse for our team, so I’m not going to say that if we don’t run well at the start of the year, we have nothing to worry about. I am not going to build in that excuse. But I think you can apply things logistically and know we are the type of team that gets stronger throughout the year. That is probably the best way to be.”
Worthy of Note: Brad Keselowski won his first Sprint Cup championship with Dodge last year, and has also earned a Nationwide championship – at JR Motorsports – with only three years in NASCAR’s top tier series’. Keselowski joins Bobby Labonte as the only drivers with both a Nationwide and Sprint Cup championship in their careers. Keselowski is also the only driver to bring a NASCAR championship trophy to the Penske organization.
Also, Dodge exited the sport at the close of the 2012 season with a coveted manufacturer championship title, after the only team to run Dodge – Penske Racing – made a decision to run with Ford in 2013. This accomplishment is amazing considering Chevrolet’s dominance in the past decade. Dodge was one of the first to introduce their 2013 Gen-6 car last year and have said they will be observers as they explore new opportunities this season. Dodge remains hopeful of returning back to NASCAR in 2014.
Michael Waltrip, team owner of Michael Waltrip Racing, speaks about putting together his deal to drive for the new Sprint Cup Series team, Swan Racing, for the Daytona 500.
“Our team raced for a championship last year and obviously with the new ‘Gen-6’ cars that everybody is working so frantically to prepare and get ready for Daytona – not only teams like ours who have raced in the series for several years now, but even a new team like Swan Racing…I just didn’t feel that it was smart for me to tax our guys with trying to prepare a fourth car. So, David’s (Stremme) team is looking for traction and want to let people know they’re here to race and they’re going to be contenders and they’ve got a really, really solid crew and team lineup… It accomplishes me getting to be a part of the race, but it helps Toyota if Michael Waltrip Racing and our team can partner with Swan Racing and help them with their Toyota program as they get ready to race in 2013. It was really a perfect match.