DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — NASCAR is back in full gear as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams hit the pavement at Daytona International Speedway this week for three days of preseason testing.
The main focus of the test is for teams to work on their final preparations for 2012 Speedweeks – in particular, the 54th running of the Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 26.
“This is an opportunity we are providing to the competitors to implement and test the new Daytona rules package for 2012,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition. “It’s a chance for them to get comfortable with the cooling package, the smaller spoiler and to practice drafting for next month’s Daytona 500.”
The new rules package is a result of information gathered during recent tests at Talladega last October and at Daytona last November.
“While we have had other tests with these set-ups, this is the first opportunity for the entire field to test together and get more comfortable with this package as it relates to their cars,” Pemberton said.
The new rules package includes:
• Smaller radiators
o Maximum of 2 gallon capacity
• Smaller overflow tank
o Maximum capacity of ½ gallon
• Radiator inlet is moved up closer into the front center bumper area
• Rate reduction in the springs – softer springs
• Smaller rear spoiler
• Base line restrictor plate of 29/32 inch (1/64 inch larger than plate size for the 2011 Daytona 500)
“This three-day test will allow the engine tuners for these teams to be able to work with their engine packages and see how they relate and react to the new cooling regulations,” Pemberton said.
Next month’s Daytona 500 will be only the third NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points event ran on the repaved Daytona International Speedway. This year’s Preseason Thunder will continue to be an opportunity for teams and drivers to test their skills on a relatively fresh surface in addition to the new rules.
Complementing the testing portion of this weekend’s festivities, the track is also offering fans an opportunity to be part of a special two-day Fan Fest event.
Fan Fest sessions are scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 12 and Friday, Jan. 13 and include autograph sessions, driver question and answer sessions, show cars and displays, music and a photo opportunity with the 2012 Harley J. Earl Daytona 500 trophy. In addition, fans can ride the high banks under the lights by purchasing a Richard Petty Driving Experience ride along.
Tickets for Daytona Preseason Thunder Fan Fest are $20 and available by calling 1-800-PITSHOP or online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com. Children 12 and under will receive free admission.
Daytona International Speedway will also host special driver chat sessions on the speedway’s social media channels following the end of testing Thursday and Friday evenings. Fans can submit questions for Twitter chats by using #daytonatesting, with answers, updates and testing information coming from Daytona International Speedway’s Twitter feed @DISUpdates. Fans can also submit questions on Facebook for LiveStream chats with drivers on www.facebook.com/DaytonaInternationalSpeedway. NASCAR’s official Twitter feed @NASCAR will also provide updates throughout the three-day session.
SPEED will broadcast live coverage of testing on all three days from 1-5 p.m. ET. Additionally, SPEEDTV.com will stream testing live from 9 a.m.-noon ET each day.