Monday, January 07, 2008

Testing is Here!

To quote Speed TV's John Roberts, "The Holidays are over and it is time for a new season of NASCAR."

Though the phrase may seem premature at this time and date, it is not untrue. Preseason Thunder has begun at Daytona. The beginning of a two week period of testing at Daytona International Superspeedway has us dancing and jumping for joy! SmileyCentral.comFinally, after seven long weeks, we get to see some cars going fast.
Monday's testing lived up to our expectations.
There isn't much gray area for the Crew Chiefs to work in on the new Formula NASCAR cars, in terms of gaining speed, so most of the work was on handling set ups and tire data. But lap speed averages are important to those of us who are mere observers, and we saw some of what was expected and many, to some, surprises.
It is no surprise that Jimmie Johnson topped the speed charts in both of Monday's sessions. His Crew Chief, Chad Knaus, in the tradition of the legendary Smokey Yunick, can find gray areas where there are none, and is well on the way to becoming a legend himself. There is no doubt the 48 team of HMS is continuing the momentum with which it ended the '07 season. The rest of the Hendrick Motorsports drivers who are participating in testing this week, Jeff Gordon and Casey Mears, also timed in the top ten in both sessions, Mears having the second fastest speed in both sessions, and Gordon posting third and sixth, respectively. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will not be testing until next week.
The surprises weren't really surprises for those of us who expected them, and were good news for those who's favorite teams happen to be driving Toyotas this season. Red Bull's A.J. Almendinger, Bill Davis Racing's Jaques Villeneuve, Hall of Fame Racing's JJ Yeley, Michael Waltrip's David Reutimann, and Joe Gibbs Racing's Kyle Busch all posted speeds in the top ten for their Toyotas in the first session. Speaking like a true racer, Jaques Villeneuve, remarked, "We still have to find more speed. The 48 car is going so much faster, so I know we can be faster."
And, indeed, he did go faster in the second session, posting in the top five, along with A.J. Allmendinger and Kyle Busch. The other two Toyota drivers who finished among the top ten in the first session, remained in the top ten for the second session.
Toyota definitely showed that they have improved over what they had for testing last year. Perhaps some of it is due to the inclusion of JGR in the stable for that manufacturer, along with Toyota Racing Division's policy of encouraging cooperation among it's various teams. But, mainly it is that Toyota had to improve its equipment, because, after all, it couldn't get worse than it was last year.
Chip Ganassi's Juan Pablo Montoya, 2007's Rookie Of The Year, finished the first session with the ninth fastest speed, and was the eleventh fastest in the second session. Travis Kvapil, in the #28 Yates Racing Ford finished with the tenth best speed in the first session, and seventh in the second, while Aric Almirola, for DEI drove the #1 Impala for the ninth best speed in the second session.
Image by John Dunagan - Fastlines and courtesy of

For a complete listing of Monday's cumulative testing speeds, click here.
It should be noted that NASCAR's "room of doom" for technical inspection is unmanned for the Preseason Thunder sessions, as there is no need for inspection since testing is not competition. With that in mind, we should consider the fact that the teams may be doing more than pushing the envelope in some areas for the sake of tire stress and handling information, and that the speeds recorded Monday may not be accurate in use for comparison of team performance.
Tuesday is the drafting session, which should tell us a bit more about the cars and drivers, and how they may perform at the Daytona 500 in February.
Preseason Thunder coverage will continue on Speed TV Tuesday evening at 7 PM Eastern time.


Penni said...

i love the 'river dance' smiley.

and i totally agree w/ you and John Roberts. It is about time.

p.s. i am not new here, i read your blog every update but that smiley just made me smile/laugh ...

RevJim said...

Thank you Penni. I like to think that if there isn't any intellectual value to what is posted here, at least the entertainment content is there!