News & Media


Two-car drafts dominate final day of Thunder

January 22, 2011, Official Release, NASCAR.com

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- After two days of testing at a chilly and overcast Daytona International Speedway, drivers were ready to stick by each other's sides on Saturday.

Literally.

"Usually in single-car runs we were probably a 15th-place car, but I feel like we're a top-five car in single-car runs right now. That's exciting to know."

--JOEY LOGANO

Two-car drafting was the theme of the day as the sun finally made an appearance. Teammates took to the track to test the pull, push and grip of the newly repaved 2.5-mile speedway during the third and final day of Preseason Thunder -- a three-day series test in preparation for the 53rd Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 20.

During the morning session, Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin swapped spots tailing each other with speeds in excess of 197 mph.

"I feel like we've got a decent speed in the Home Depot Toyota," said Logano, who had the morning's fastest lap (197.516 mph, 45.566 seconds). "Usually in single-car runs we were probably a 15th-place car, but I feel like we're a top-five car in single-car runs right now. That's exciting to know."

Numerous teams opted for two-car drafting, including Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman, Earnardt-Ganassi Racing's Juan Montoya and Jamie McMurray and Penske Racing's Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski.

Managing director of competition John Darby wasn't surprised that teams avoided multi-car drafting, instead relying on two- and three-car combinations.

"Obviously the guys are working on the tandem deal knowing that's faster than the draft," Darby said. "Everybody's working on a little different agenda, and it's all trying to find that edge to win the Daytona 500."

Darby says it wasn't about what teams and NASCAR learned during this week's test, rather more about what fans can expect on Feb. 20.

"I think this test has done more in building confidence," Darby said. "There's always some anxiety around what happens when a track repaves."

Last year's repave -- only the second at 2.5-mile Daytona and the first since 1978 -- began after the Cup event on July 3 and ended in early December. A Goodyear tire test on Dec. 15-16 was the first time teams drove on the repaved surface; this past week was the second.

"All it has done is amplify the beautiful job they have done on resurfacing Daytona International Speedway," Darby said. "The grip is at an all-time high, the drivers are comfortable -- that's why you see a lot of the stuff on the race track, because they are comfortable in the cars. Sometimes there's a fine line between comfortable and cocky but that's what makes the race exciting. That's one of the things that'll make this Daytona 500, I think, different than any one I've been able to watch."

One driver already comfortable in his new car was 2004 Cup champion Kurt Busch.

"It's gonna be one heck of a Daytona," Busch said in the garage during the afternoon test.