NASCAR will allow Sprint Cup organizations to test independently at tracks that host events in the top three touring series for the first time since 2008.
Robin Pemberton, NASCAR’s vice president of competition said Saturday at Dover International Speedway that each Cup organization, regardless of how many cars it fields, will be allowed four test of it choosing at NASCAR tracks.
“It’s up to them to pick where they want to go,” said Pemberton. “We feel like it’s time to open that up and allow the teams to manage their testing and get back on facilities that host our events. You’ll see that as the year unfolds, that teams will be moving around the countryside.”
As a cost saving measure, NASCAR placed a ban on testing at tracks that host races in the top three series, in November 2008, five years ago. That didn’t prevent teams from doing independent testing at other non-NASCAR tracks.
“It’s awesome, that’s all we’re asking for,” Jimmie Johnson, five-time series champion, said of the policy change. “We’re still testing, but we’re all testing at tracks that don’t relate. So in a way we’re spinning our wheels and kind f wasting funds. I was hopeful for more, but I’m very excited to hear that’s the case.”
“The end result of what we see on the track it’s hard to say, but at least we’re spending money in the right area,” Johnson said. “We have such old data sets for racetracks that it’s crazy. It gives teams a chance to go work on their weaker tracks and get new data files.”
The new testing policy coincides with the introduction of the next generation Cup car for 2012. Wednesday at Talladega Superspeedway, NASCAR will conduct a test with the new cars, Chevrolet SS, Toyota Camry and the Ford Fusion.
“When we go to Talladega, we’re going to concentrate on the cooling package, the drafting package,” Pemberton said. “The handling is really the least of the issues down there…It’s about working on the drafting package for Talladega and Daytona.”
The four test allocated to each organization next year are in addition to Preseason Thunder testing conducted by NASCAR during the second week in January, at Daytona International Speedway.
Cup teams will also test at Texas Motor Speedway, Phoenix International Raceway, Charlotte Motor Speedway and the newly repaved Kansas Speedway this year. These upcoming test are scheduled Goodyear tire tests, but each organization also will be allowed to bring and gather data on one 2013 car in preparation for the car’s debut next year full time.
“Teams are invited to go help us with the tire test,” said Pemberton, “Because we are developing this car and tires at the same time.”
The extra track time should help teams adjust to a new car for 2013 that is designed to more closely resemble its showroom counterpart.
“That’s going to be huge,” Ricky Stenhouse Jr., the 2011 Nationwide Series champion, said. “The Nationwide cars drive so great compared to the Cup cars with so much horsepower and to get extra tests next year will definitely be a benefit for us. Everybody else will be able to get faster, too, but I think it’ll help me kind of speed up and catch up with the learning curve.”
The testing will benefit for the 2013 Sprint Cup rookies like Danica Patrick and Stenhouse Jr., who will now be able to gain experience with the pressure of a race weekend.
“We need to continue to develop and break the rut that we’re in as a sport as far as new drivers and new people not being able to break in, and maybe even new car owners. I think that’ll help with that,” said Brad Keselowski. “Any time you get track time at tracks you race at, testing is very healthy for NASCAR.”
With this testing it is optimistic that inexperienced drivers and teams will have a better chance at improving and working at some of their weaker tracks. It is difficult to measure if the additional testing team are going to be given will have an impact on the quality of racing.