In Saturday’s opening practice session, Ryan Blaney was 35th fastest among the 36 hopefuls for the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum.
Soon after his group of 12 cars took to the track for their second session, Blaney jumped to second fastest overall.
The driver of the No. 12 Team Penske Ford ended practice ninth overall as the track gained speed throughout the scheduled two-hour warm-up. Blaney said wholesale changes to his car after the first session accounted for the improvement in performance.
“We found a lot,” Blaney acknowledged. “We changed a whole lot between the first and second practice. We were really bad the first run and just really loose. The corners are so tight here that the moment your rear slips out from under you, it takes forever to catch it and you lose tons of time.
“We came in and put tons of wedge in it and changed the right front spring and rear springs. There is a lot of adjustability in these cars with rear and front bar and stiffness on the arms on them-you can change a lot. We did a good job of getting on top of it and taking a huge swing at it.
“We were so far off. The adjustability on these cars is a lot though … It’s nice to have so many options where you can tweak on things.”
With independent rear suspension, differential in place of rear-end housing and rack-and-pinion steering all new to the Next Gen car, crew chiefs will have a lot to work with – and a lot to learn – in the coming weeks.