3 days at Daytona might have limits
Wednesday, Jan. 09, 2013
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. Like many Sprint Cup Series teams, Michael Waltrip Racing faces a bit of a quandary this week at Daytona International Speedway.
For one, the organization wants to do what it can to build on its 2012 success, when Clint Bowyer finished as runner-up to series champion Brad Keselowski.
To do that, it needs to get a good handle on the Cup cars to debut this season cars which have not had very much testing.
We need to go down there and start to understand the 2013 package. We need to understand how to gain speed and to keep the cars cool in the draft, said Scott Miller, MWRs executive vice president of competition.
This car is a whole new beast for us.
There is a problem.
A late start to building the 2013 model has left many teams with few completed cars. While teams need to focus on qualifying and race conditions, the lack of inventory makes some question the value of drafting sessions.
We will spend a lot of time on single-car runs and try and optimize our qualifying package. We will spend a minimal time drafting since our car count is very low, Miller said.
However, drafting is important because we need to understand the cooling and the drivability of the cars in a pack.
The three-day test will begin at 9 a.m. Thursday. If enough teams are willing, NASCAR officials would like to see teams run under race conditions during the afternoon sessions.
While everyone seemingly is behind and scrambling to put cars together and get to Daytona, and they are, there are reasons for it to make sure we have brand identity, which was the method to the madness in this project and to keep that level playing field, said former Cup crew chief and Speed Channel analyst Larry McReynolds.
I know people hate that saying, but as a crew chief, I lived through the years of rolling into a new season, of rolling into Daytona, and getting our butts kicked because another manufacturer was superior.
Building more brand identity was the top priority of the new car, but NASCAR also must keep one manufacturer from having an advantage.
This new car will be the biggest challenge teams have faced in probably six or seven years because of the way the car will be set up, said Darrell Waltrip, a retired former Cup champion. Its a totally different body style.