LAS VEGAS — Forty-eight drivers from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series turned laps at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Thursday to further build upon the intermediate-track rules package that was formalized late last year.
Serving as the first official NASCAR test with the new 2014 rules package in place, the four-hour session allowed teams to prepare for Sunday’s Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway — the series’ first visit to a 1.5-mile track in 2014 — and beyond.
Included in the new intermediate track rules package are various physical changes to the car that were determined after much collaboration between NASCAR, the teams and the manufacturers.
Based in part on two lengthy test sessions at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October and December, NASCAR implemented chassis and aerodynamic adjustments into the setup specifications to encourage more green-flag passing and side-by-side racing. Changes to the package include statically setting the race car ride height, a square leading edge on the splitter, side skirt and rear fascia adjustments and an eight-inch rear spoiler. A 43-inch by 13-inch radiator pan rounded out changes for 2014.
Fresh off his win at Phoenix International Raceway last Sunday, Kevin Harvick was at the top of the speed charts at the conclusion of today’s test session. The No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet logged a total of 42 laps with a top speed of 190.148 mph.
“We were three or four tenths off (at the start of the test) and had to kind of abort on what we were doing and go a different route,” said Kevin Harvick. “The next route was not as good and the third route finally wound up being good. I think those are good things that are, for us, important because it gives us direction when we go to other mile and a half race tracks so we don’t have to do like we did today. We can get to what has been working for us and just go straight from there to progress that package to make it even better.”
“There’s a bit of a learning curve,” said Gene Stefanyshyn, NASCAR vice president of innovation and racing development. “The package we put together is going to be used on all the tracks except the superspeedways, so at Phoenix we began to see a glimpse, but obviously since that’s only a mile track, the speeds are a lot lower. They could probably only harvest maybe 30 to 40 percent of the capability of the package, so really this will be the first race where we get to see they can fully exploit the aerodynamic and chassis changes.”