The future (and the rain) arrived at Daytona International Speedway as Goodyear concluded its Car of Tomorrow tire test with five NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series teams in preparation for the historic 50th running of the Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 17.

Drivers that participating in the test include Denny Hamlin (Joe Gibbs Racing), 2007 Daytona 500 pole winner David Gilliland (Yates Racing), David Stremme (Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates), Mark Green subbing for Michael Waltrip (Michael Waltrip Racing) and recent NEXTEL Cup Series winner Clint Bowyer (Richard Childress Racing).

The Car of Tomorrow, a five-year project by NASCAR's Research and Development Center, is designed to be safer, more competitive and cheaper for the race teams.

NASCAR's next generation race car made its debut in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series earlier this year and was scheduled to be used in 16 races.

It will be utilized on a full-time basis in 2008 and will make its debut at DIS in the 50th running of the Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 17.

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Rain slowed the first day of testing, which Goodyear is using to test different tire compounds and structures. The morning session of the test was rained out but the teams got on the track just after noon. Intermittent rain showers did slow the afternoon session.
Rain totally wiped out a scheduled second day of testing on Wednesday.
"Obviously, it's a Goodyear tire test for all of us," Bowyer said. "We're trying to come here and bring the best tire back that we can and use our input and the information that the guys get from us being on the race track. With the way the weather is, we really need to get out there."

This isn't the first time the Car of Tomorrow has been on track at "The World Center of Racing." Earlier this year during Preseason Thunder testing, Penske drivers Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman shook down their Dodges for a few laps.

Waiting out the rain gave Bowyer more time to reflect on his first career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series win last weekend in Loudon, N.H., which was also the first race in the 10-race Chase for the NEXTEL Cup.

Bowyer, driving the No. 07 Jack Daniel's Chevrolet, dominated the 300-lap event leading 222 laps.

"We needed a win," Bowyer said. "That's exactly what our race team needed confidence wise and momentum wise. The timing couldn't have been better, the first race of the Chase.

"Getting things started off on the right foot means so much. I'm very excited to be in the position we're win. I went into this thing 12th and now we're fourth and 15 points out of the lead. It's unbelievable."

Bowyer feels confident about his team's chance entering the remaining races of the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup.

"I told the media coming into these races, my best race tracks are these last 10 races," Bowyer said. "They are tracks that I'm comfortable with and confident with. Going into them, that means a lot.

"Hopefully we can get us another win or two by the end of the year and compete for this championship. That's what it's all about. It's such a big deal and a huge honor to be part of this Chase. We're going to have fun with it and push as hard as we can and see where we end up."

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