Well, now we are getting to the meat and potatoes of Daytona Testing. The drafting session is showing us something, now, and the teams are adding to what they learned in the first session last week. The Dodges that hung back in time in the single car runs are running at the top in drafting practice.
Franchitti seems to be catching on rather swiftly, as could probably be expected. Not only did he get the fastest times of all the Dodges in the single car runs, but he hung in the top ten in the drafting tests. I have been lauding Regan Smith as the probable ROTY this year, but Franchitti is learning as quickly as Juan Pablo ("Johnny Paul" in my book) Montoya did. Maybe even more quickly.
Regan Smith, whose determination and drive remind me very much of Denny Hamlin, did bring his car up to the second fastest time in drafting, followed by the kid who is still a question mark in my mind, Paul "Daddy bought me a car so I can wreck the big guys" Menard. Actually, to Menard's credit, without much ARCA or Nationwide/NBS experience before he began his Cup career, the kid is learning the hard way. Anyway, the DEI cars seem to be at least meeting some criteria.
Tony Stewart, driving a different car than the one he took to the track Monday, posted the sixth fastest speed Tuesday afternoon.
Known as the guy who hates having to deal with the media, yet seems to have more media events than any other driver, Smoke had some interesting comments in Monday's Q&A session.
"HERB BRANHAM: We are joined by Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota. If you could just start off by telling us how your first day and a half of testing has gone down here.
TONY STEWART: Pretty good. We've not missed a shift yet, and that's the hardest part of what we've done the last day and a half. So other than that, it's just hold it wide open and ride around." (Ooh, the man can be snarky. As Tony Stewart fans, we expect and accept that. Besides, it's funny!)
(On the move to Toyota):
"Like I told you guys last year, I don't care if it's Kia or whoever, I just want to win races."
"Q. After all your experience does it get easier to handle the changes at this level, the changes of rules, equipment, engines?
TONY STEWART: I think everybody that gets to this level can handle it. I don't think it's a bigger deal having more experience. But this year it's not as big a change obviously. In the big picture it seems like a huge change because we switched manufacturers. But if we went ahead and made this change a year ago, it would have been a lot more dramatic than it is this year with the car that's the same for everybody. It's just literally a decal package and a motor package for the most part. I think it's less of a change this year than it would have been in the past."
(Highlighted by this blogger)
On his relationship with Crew Chief Greg Zippadelli:
"I think Zippy and I are now that position to where we don't see each other doing something away from each other. If one of us decides to retire, the other one is going along with him. If he says, "I'm done, I'm ready to do something different," then that's probably when I'll say I'm ready to do something different, too, or vice versa."
The complete chart of Tuesday's times and speeds can be found here