DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — While several teams and drivers were in Talladega, Ala., testing the new NASCAR Nationwide Series car Monday, even more were in Daytona Beach, Fla., preparing for the 52nd annual Daytona 500.
On Monday and Tuesday, 17 drivers with 18 cars were in attendance for a two-day Goodyear tire test at Daytona Int’l Speedway. Drivers toured the legendary 2.5-mile tri-oval shaking down Goodyear tires in both single car and drafting sessions.
Defending Daytona 500 champion Matt Kenseth was joined by former champion Dale Earnhardt, Jr., recent Talladega race winner Jamie McMurray and Chase for the Sprint Cup contenders Juan Pablo Montoya and Kurt Busch, just to name a few.
Penske Racing’s Kurt Busch said the drafting sessions consisted of 15, 20 and 30-lap runs.
“The sequence has been to try as many sets of tires as we can and do it in a simulation with the drafting,” Busch said. “When you run two or three cars by themselves in a simulation draft, it doesn’t do it justice until you really push everybody out there together to get cars sliding, to have some cars pushing, to have some cars on the loose side. It really gives us a good indication of what changes we’re making on the tires when we have such a big draft.
“It’s good participation for most of the teams. It almost feels like a (Gatorade) 150, you have half the group on the race track but yet there’s only 18. It still gives us 18 data points on each of the runs that we make and it’s definitely the best way to gather information.”
Jamie McMurray, fresh off his third career NASCAR Sprint Cup victory at Talladega Superspeedway Sunday, echoed Busch’s comments that more cars have given Goodyear better data for developing tires for the 2010 Daytona 500.
“We came here in May and they made the restrictor plates bigger to simulate the same lap times as what we do in the draft and that didn’t show the same wear,” McMurray said. “The fact that they brought so many cars here this time, I think we have 16 cars doing a draft at a time. The cars are not driving really that good, they are sliding around a lot and Goodyear is able to get a lot more accurate data by having so many cars here.”