Fontana to host preseason Cup test
Two-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson and 42 other NASCAR drivers, including Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart, will make a pit stop in Southern California when California Speedway hosts NASCAR Preseason Thunder on January 31 and February 1, 2008. The NASCAR Sprint Cup testing sessions will mark the Car of Tomorrow’s first run on the Speedway’s two-mile oval. The sessions will be open to the public, and admission to the Speedway’s grandstand seating is free.
“We are thrilled to host NASCAR Preseason Thunder, which will give our fans a preview of how the Car of Tomorrow will change the racing when it debuts at California Speedway this February, ” said Gillian Zucker, President of California Speedway. “Everyone I have spoken with about the Car of Tomorrow—from drivers, to crew chiefs, to team owners to officials—talks about how drafting will become a major factor, like Daytona or Talladega, without restrictor plates, ” Zucker added. “It should be a great show for California’s racing fans.
The Car of Tomorrow (COT) is the result of nearly seven years of work by the NASCAR Research and Development Center and is designed to foster safer and more competitive racing. The COT will be used in all 36 Cup Series races in 2008, and will officially debut at California Speedway at the Auto Club 500 on February 24. The COT’s design should result in super speedway conditions on the Speedway’s two-mile track, with more side-by-side racing, and increased drafting.
“The Car of Tomorrow will change racing, ” said Kyle Petty, a veteran of over 800 Cup races. “I think it’s better suited for a 2.0-mile race track and truly believe that when we run it out in California, you are going to see a great race. Next year’s races have the potential to be the best California races we’ve ever had. ”
NASCAR will run three test sessions on Thursday, January 31 (9:00 am-12:00 pm, 1:00 pm-5:00 pm and 6:00 pm-9:00 pm) and two test sessions on Friday, February 1 (9:00 am-12:00 pm and 1:00 pm-5:00 pm). Admission to the grandstands will be free for all sessions. Fans that purchase tickets for the Auto Club 500 by January 31 will also be granted access to the infield rooftops during testing. Fans who have not purchased their tickets for the February NASCAR race weekend can still gain access to the infield rooftops with a $5 donation to the NASCAR Foundation. Additionally, members of California Speedway’s Hard Card program - season ticket holders who have renewed their seats for 2008 - will have access to a special question and answer session with fan favorite driver Robby Gordon after Friday afternoon’s testing session.
The complete NASCAR Preseason Thunder schedule, which was determined with input from each of the team’s crew chiefs, will feature testing at nine tracks across the country and provide teams the opportunity to prepare for track layouts, surfaces and conditions that they will see over the course of the 2008 season.