News & Media

Pemberton pleased with progress of Day 1 testing

January 12, 2012, Official Release,

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- There was no shortage of conversation -- or anything off-limits -- during Day 1 of Preseason Thunder at Daytona International Speedway.

From spoilers to drafting to beards -- all were topics du jour.

A full field of Sprint Cup Series drivers tackled Daytona for the first of a three-day test as teams make their final preparations for the 54th running of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 26.

"It's important for us to test down here, not only for the teams, but for us," said vice president of competition Robin Pemberton. "We've had track tests at Daytona and Talladega and we've been in the wind tunnel several times. We think we're making some great strides. The test is going pretty good for us. The teams are learning about their equipment and the limits they will be under with water temperatures and things like that. We've seen softer springs, a smaller spoiler and a reduction in downforce. We're pleased with the progress we've made so far."

A test and a Fest

Complementing the testing portion at Daytona is a special two-day Fan Fest event.

Jeff Gordon led 31 cars during the morning session of practice with a top speed of 192.773 mph. Teams practiced single and two-car runs in the morning session, but for most, the excitement of returning to Daytona and the thrill of the The Great American Race, only 45 days away, certainly added to the intensity of the day.

"A lot of effort goes into this race," Dale Earnhardt, Jr. said. "Winning the 500 is the biggest race of the year. It is the greatest feeling. The effort is quadruple when it comes to how much goes into the engines just for that race and the bodies of the cars. So it's a pretty big deal when you win."

The winning car of this year's Daytona 500 will be the first car in the history of the sport to score a victory with a fuel injected engine.

"I feel like there is a crack in the floodgates," Mark Martin said. "I think there is a huge amount of electronics and adjustments and so much that can be done by those guys on the computer, instead of all those years I spent with Jack [Roush] with the carburetor apart up in the trailer."

The afternoon drafting session belonged to the Toyotas of Kyle Busch and Joey Logano, respectively, with Busch posting a top speed of 202.402 mph.

What will tomorrow bring for these teams? More knowledge for them to get ready for one of the biggest races of the year.

Preseason Thunder: Day 1

Morning Practice Speeds
Pos.DriverTimeSpeed PosDriverTimeSpeed
2.Paul Menard46.785 192.369 18. Kasey Kahne 47.160 190.840
3.Kurt Busch46.787 192.361 19. Kevin Harvick 47.176 190.775
4.Ricky Stenhouse Jr.46.885 191.959 20. Clint Bowyer 47.199 190.682
5. Juan Montoya46.911 191.853 21. Mark Martin 47.225 190.577
6. Jimmie Johnson46.933191.763 22. Marcos Ambrose 47.238 190.525
7. Greg Biffle46.987 191.542 23. Aric Almirola 47.255 190.456
8. Danica Patrick47.004 191.473 24. Jamie McMurray 47.269 190.400
9. Jeff Burton47.019 191.412 25. Regan Smith 47.374 189.978
10. Trevor Bayne47.022 191.400 26. A.J. Allmendinger 47.419 189.797
11.Dale Earnhardt Jr.47.025 191.388 27. Carl Edwards 47.435 189.733
12. Tony Stewart 47.032 191.359 28. Brad Keselowski 47.504 189.458
13. Kyle Busch47.037 191.339 29.Casey Mears 47.508 189.442
14. Joey Logano 47.059 191.249 30. Martin Truex Jr. 47.633 188.945
15. Ryan Newman 47.110 191.042 31. Joe Nemechek 48.304 186.320
16. Denny Hamlin 47.122 190.994

Preseason Thunder: Day 1

Afternoon Practice Speeds
Pos.DriverTimeSpeed Pos.DriverTimeSpeed
2.Joey Logano44.469202.388 18.Jeff Burton46.945191.714
3.Brad Keselowski44.505202.224 19.Juan Montoya46.969191.616
4.A.J. Allmendinger44.506202.220 20.Matt Kenseth46.997191.502
5.Dale Earnhardt Jr.44.794200.920 21.Marcos Ambrose47.007 191.461
6.Jimmie Johnson44.795200.915 22.Ryan Newman47.010191.449
7.Denny Hamlin44.965200.156 23.Kevin Harvick47.052191.278
8.Kasey Kahne45.047199.791 24.Trevor Bayne47.061191.241
9.Mark Martin45.782196.584 25.Martin Truex Jr.47.095191.103
10.Clint Bowyer45.782196.584 26.Jamie McMurray47.102191.075
11.Ricky Stenhouse Jr.46.164194.957 27.Regan Smith47.266190.412
12.Jeff Gordon46.482193.623 28.Carl Edwards47.285190.335
13.Paul Menard46.726192.612 29.Aric Almirola47.296190.291
14.Kurt Busch46.835192.164 30.Dave Blaney47.453189.661
15.Tony Stewart46.887191.951 31.Casey Mears47.671188.794
16.Danica Patrick46.893191.926 32.Joe Nemechek 48.038187.352

"We'll gather our information and we'll talk with the teams," said Pemberton in regard to practicing different forms of drafting. "That's why we have a three-day test."

View photos from Preseason Thunder at Daytona below: