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2013 Sprint Cup car draws excitement
Martinsville Speedway could see increased testing
Denny Hamlin drives on the track during NASCAR testing at Daytona International Speedway on Thursday in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP)
Friday, January 11, 2013
By BULLETIN STAFF REPORTS -
It was early August when the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car showed up at Martinsville Speedway painted like a checkerboard.
The paint masked the car’s body and design.
But with Daytona Preseason Thunder, the annual three-day test session that began Thursday at Daytona International Speedway, everyone is getting a close look at the new model, and that’s producing plenty of excitement.
“For the first time in a long time, I didn’t take a vacation,” Donnie Wingo, crew chief for the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion team, said in a release from Wood Brothers Racing. “We didn’t even take the whole week of Christmas off.”
Crews have been busy at Daytona trying to get a feel for the car. Wingo said the car has less drag but also less downforce.
The so-called Gen6 models are designed with more showroom-type looks. And for fans of manufacturers, that’s a good thing.
“I’m excited about the 2013 car, and I really believe NASCAR is doing the right thing by making the race cars look like the cars you buy off the showroom floor,” Martinsville Speedway president Clay Campbell said in a release. “That’s what we used to have years ago, and the fans would not only pull for the drivers, they’d also pull for a particular brand of car. To get that rivalry and excitement back is huge for our sport.”
The cars will officially debut in Martinsville on April 7 in the Virginia 500 Sprint Cup race, but, with open testing back in the Sprint Cup Series, many teams likely will want to test at the half-mile oval before race weekend.
Before a testing ban was put in place in 2009 as a cost-cutting measure, the weeks leading into event weekends at Martinsville Speedway saw activity from several teams over the course of a two or three-week period. Now, that ban is lifted.
NASCAR lifted the ban in September and will allow each Sprint Cup organization to test at four tracks in 2013. The four tests are per organization, not per car.
“We fully expect Martinsville Speedway to be a busy place this year with testing,” Campbell said. “Considering some of the talent now in the Sprint Cup ranks have never turned a lap at Martinsville, it’s almost a must for those teams to test here.
“Although it’s a short track, this is still one of the most difficult tracks on the circuit to figure out. There are guys who have been coming here for years that still haven’t. We’ve already been getting inquiries from teams about dates, so I would expect in the next few weeks we’ll see the schedule start coming together.”
The test schedules will be announced as they become available. Test sessions are open to the public at no charge.
The Virginia 500 is scheduled for April 7, the day after the Kroger 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race. Pole Day is Friday, April 5.