Concord, NC (Sports Network) - NASCAR's new Sprint Cup Series car is getting
rave reviews following the first day of open testing on Tuesday at Charlotte
Sixteen teams representing all three auto manufacturers currently in the
series -- Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota -- are participating in the two-day
session to familiarize themselves with the sixth generation or "G6" race cars
for the 2013 season. Several teams did not have opportunity to test the car
prior to the end of the season.
"Late in the season, there was a number of teams that either didn't have cars
or parts and pieces or they were pretty deep in the Chase (for the Sprint Cup
championship), so in fairness to them, we thought that it would be a good
opportunity to get in a couple of days out here for those teams that were
concentrating on their season," NASCAR vice president of competition Robin
Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was recently voted as the "most popular driver" in
NASCAR's premier series for the 10th consecutive season, gave the car high
marks after driving it for the first time.
"It's the first time that I've driven the car, and I'm really impressed,"
Earnhardt Jr. said. "I really like the balance of the car, and the downforce
seems to be relatively good. The car has driven well for us today, and we'll
just move through the next couple of days here. We'll keep tuning it and see
what it likes and doesn't like."
Making his debut with Joe Gibbs Racing, Matt Kenseth also had a favorable
impression of the car. He will drive the No. 20 Toyota for JGR next season
following his past 13 years with Roush Fenway Racing. Kenseth's No. 20 team
was forced to make an engine change after he over-revved the engine during the
"I'll be honest, that was probably the first time I was nervous in a race car,
getting in there and going out there for the first time, in as long as I can
remember," Kenseth said. "It's always exciting, but you're a little anxious
when you do something different. It's been fun so far."
Just three weeks after winning his first Sprint Cup championship, Brad
Keselowski is getting prep time in a Ford. Penske Racing has switched from
Dodge to Ford for the upcoming season.
"It's hard to get a great read on the whole manufacturing change, because it's
a different car," Keselowski said. "I think all the signs are there that we
have the potential to be just as strong if not stronger than we were (this
past season), which is very, very encouraging."
Keselowski also spent time with his new teammate, Joey Logano, who will drive
the No. 22 Ford for Penske.
"It's been a lot of fun on the first day today working with Joey, which I
think has been probably more of an adjusting process than the actual car
itself," Keselowski added. "I'm curious to see over time how we can work
together and push each other to be the best that we can be."
Jeff Burton topped the speed charts in the morning with a lap at 190.833 mph
in his No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. Regan Smith, who was driving
Jeff Gordon's No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, had the quickest lap
during the afternoon session at 190.215 mph. Smith is running a full-time
schedule for Earnhardt Jr.'s Nationwide Series team next year.
Testing at Charlotte concludes on Wednesday.
More testing of the car is scheduled for Jan. 10-12 at Daytona and the
following week at Charlotte. NASCAR has also made plans for an extra day of
testing before the spring races at Las Vegas and Texas as well as extra
practice time for the March event in Fontana, Calif.
"It's been said already there are a some things that we still continue to work
on, but they are all in a positive note," Pemberton said. "We're taking
feedback (from teams) on the downforce and how the cars drive. So the bulk of
the work is done, with spoiler sizes and splitters and things like that."
The Sports Network