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Shortened testing wraps up at Charlotte

January 18, 2013, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com

Shortened testing wraps up at Charlotte
Drivers use second testing to get better acquainted with Generation-6 car

CONCORD, N.C. -- Most drivers participating in a weather-shortened test session at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Friday agreed on one thing -- with the start of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season barely a month away, any amount of track time in the new Generation-6 car is crucial.

“This will be my fifth time in the … car,” said Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 31 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing. “Testing is valuable, there is no question about it. But if we go two hours today, everybody got two hours.”

The test, originally scheduled for two days, was reduced to approximately seven hours due to inclement weather. It marked the second opportunity for teams to gain on-track time with the new car and a new rules package at a 1.5-mile venue. Previous testing of the new car was done without the current rules package in place.

"Teams will leave out of here; some will be happy, some will be middle-of-the-road and you’ll have a couple of sad ones."

--Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition

“The last time I remember doing testing like this was when the Taurus was first introduced,” Burton said. “I view this as a bonus test. We wouldn’t normally get this. Again, if we get two hours then the whole field gets two hours. Again, it’s about the teams that are most prepared.”

For Roush Fenway Racing’s Greg Biffle, the test provided a third opportunity in the new car, but he added that this week’s test was the first in a car that was close to race-ready.

“This is the first opportunity we’ve really had to get the car on the race track in the configuration we’re actually going to race in,” Biffle said. “We’ve tested a few times with a composite body and not all of the latest rules, but this is really it for us. We needed these two days to really figure out what the car is going to end up like."

By late afternoon, Biffle (192.601 mph) had posted the fastest speed among the 33 drivers participating in the test. He had also scraped the wall, but the contact was minimal and he was back out on the track after minor repairs to the No. 16 Ford.

By the time the test concluded at 7:30 p.m., Ford driver Aric Almirola had set an unofficial track record, posting a lap of 194.021 mph. The mark exceeded the official qualifying record of 193.708 mph set last October by Biffle. In December, Kasey Kahne had topped Biffle’s mark with a lap of 193.771 mph during testing.

While team tests, as opposed to those scheduled by NASCAR, have not been allowed at Cup tracks since 2009, organizations will be able to test up to four times at Cup tracks in 2013.

With so many unknowns surrounding the new car and rules package, NASCAR officials scheduled two tests at CMS to give teams the opportunity to gather additional information.

“You get a thumb-up (from teams) and for me that’s been about the length of the conversations from most of them,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition. “They’ll continue to work on it. I think like any test, teams will leave out of here, some will be happy, some will be middle-of-the-road and you’ll have a couple of sad ones.”

John Darby, Sprint Cup Series director, said the day’s efforts were “definitely just another step in the launch of the Generation-6 car.

“There are probably more cars here today that I will term as real race cars with full manufacturer’s steel bodies and the correct components -- decklids, hoods and everything else that goes with it.

“For a lot of the teams, the test is probably more real-life than what some of our previous tests have been. Other than that, not a lot has changed. From the rules package and specification for the cars, most of that has settled down.”


Carl Edwards, Casey Mears, Marcos Ambrose and Jimmie Johnson completed the top five on the speed chart at day’s end, with all but Johnson eclipsing the 193.000 mph mark. Defending Sprint Cup Series Champion Brad Keselowski was 28th.

Michael McDowell filled in for Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin, logging 204 laps. Hamlin skipped the test to be with his girlfriend, who is expecting the couple’s first child.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Gen-6 Car Charlotte Motor Speedway test results
Friday, Jan. 18

Pos
Car
Driver Team
Time
Speed
# Laps
1
43
Aric Almirola Richard Petty Motorsports Ford
27.832
194.021
74
2
99
Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Racing Ford
27.882
193.673
93
3
13
Casey Mears Germain Racing Ford
27.924
193.382
109
4
9
Marcos Ambrose Richard Petty Motorsports
27.938
193.285
131
5
48
Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
28.009
192.795
138
6
55
Mark Martin Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota
28.032
192.637
97
7
16
Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Racing Ford
28.036
192.610
92
8
56
Martin Truex Jr. Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota
28.063
192.424
94
9
15
Clint Bowyer Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota
28.070
192.376
109
10
17
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Roush Fenway Racing Ford
28.075
192.342
131
11
42
Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
28.092
192.226
85
12
5
Kasey Kahne Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
28.095
192.205
101
13
20
Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
28.104
192.143
92
14
29
Kevin Harvick Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
28.108
192.116
121
15
22
Joey Logano Penske Racing Ford
28.123
192.014
139
16
14
Tony Stewart Stewart Haas Racing Chevrolet
28.134
191.939
70
17
18
Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
28.158
191.775
156
18
78
Kurt Busch Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet
28.172
191.680
67
19
88
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
28.194
191.530
97
20
39
Ryan Newman Stewart Haas Racing Chevrolet
28.196
191.517
66
21
1
Jamie McMurray Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
28.214
191.394
79
22
24
Jeff Gordon Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
28.216
191.381
62
23
31
Jeff Burton Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
28.241
191.211
97
24
21
Trevor Bayne Wood Brothers Racing Ford
28.278
190.961
122
25
11
Michael McDowell Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
28.315
190.712
204
26
30
David Stremme Swan Racing Toyota
28.332
190.712
80
27
10
Danica Patrick Stewart Haas Racing Chevrolet
28.342
190.530
114
28
2
Brad Keselowski Penske Racing Ford
28.355
190.443
96
29
47
Bobby Labonte JTG Daugherty Racing Toyota
28.468
189.687
46
30
27
Paul Menard Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
28.469
189.680
107
31
7
Dave Blaney Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet
28.645
188.515
64
32
34
David Ragan Front Row Motorsports Ford
28.752
187.813
96
33
34
Scott Speed Leavine Family Racing Ford
28.882
186.968
41

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Kenny Bruce comes to NASCAR after serving as assistant managing editor/writer at NASCAR Scene, SceneDaily.com and NASCAR Illustrated since 2001. Bruce is a three-time National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year and former president of the NMPA. He also was the 2012 Henry T. McLemore Award recipient, presented by the International Motorsports Hall of Fame for lifetime achievement in journalism. Bruce has 30 years of experience in motorsports journalism and is on the voting panel for the NASCAR Hall of Fame.