Clint Bowyer leads first test session at Daytona
The newly paved Daytona International Speedway has gained a little character in the last month but remains extremely smooth, drivers reported Thursday after testing on the new surface.
In the first three hours of Sprint Cup testing Thursday morning, 33 drivers made single-car runs. Drafting practice began with the afternoon session of the three-day test on the 2.5-mile trioval.
It was the first time on the new surface for many drivers. The track, which developed a pothole in Turn 2 that marred last year’s Daytona 500, was repaved for the first time since prior to the 1979 season. A Goodyear tire test in December attracted 17 drivers.
Two-time Cup champion Tony Stewart, who had driven a pace car around the track in October, said there had been a bump in turns 3 and 4 where the paver slipped a little bit and it lost some of the gauge of the asphalt thickness.
“It looks like they ground the front side and back side of it and it seems a lot smoother than when we were here in October,” Stewart said. “It’s almost an identical feeling to what we had at Talladega.
“The transitions off of [turns] 2 and 4 are a little more abrupt than what we do at Talladega but as far as the ride, you could hold a cup of coffee with the lid off full and not spill a drop riding around.”
Richard Childress Racing’s Clint Bowyer led the first test session with a speed of 184.219 mph, followed by Hendrick Motorsports’ Jeff Gordon (183.880) and Mark Martin (183.378) and Earnhardt Ganassi Racing teammates Jamie McMurray (183.128) and Juan Pablo Montoya (182.997).
Teams had the option to draft in the afternoon session, but only four drivers drafted, with Michael Waltrip Racing teammates David Reutimann (195.780) and Martin Truex Jr. (195.776) posting the top speed. At the Goodyear test, drivers went 197 mph but teams are now using a restrictor plate with slightly smaller holes. More at Scenedaily.com