Everyone in NASCAR has been particularly busy this offseason from series executives to fabricators preparing for the new Sprint Cup Series season with debut of a new model car.
With the first Cup practice at Daytona International Speedway a month away, a lot of work remains for teams in preparation for the Feb. 24 Daytona 500.
NASCARs vice president of competition, Robin Pemberton, took some time during the recent test at Daytona to address some of the issues.
Q. Two hundred miles per hour, is that OK for Speedweeks? If it gets over that significantly, is that problematic for you guys?
Pemberton: No. We're in the ballpark. We know the teams will go back and they'll work, they'll bring a little bit better this, better that. So we feel comfortable with that. The race track is coming to us a little bit. Speeds will fluctuate a lot. They'll be better on new tires. It will drop off as it goes. But we're right in the ballpark. We don't foresee any changes.
Q. Teams have talked about having a lack of car inventory. Did they address that with you? Are they griping to you?
Pemberton: No, it's just a fact that there's a lack of inventory. We know where we're at. It's on everybody's part as far as delivery dates on sheet metal, whether it's deck lids or hoods from every manufacturer. When you look at the delivery dates on things, we should be in pretty good shape by the time we get through Speedweeks and into the first regular season race.
Q. How do you balance trying to figure out or predict how much teams are going to gain on speed vs. whether to make a plate change for when you come back in February?
Pemberton: When you just look at the history, when you're down here with a large group 34 cars over the couple days it all looks and feels the same. You know that they'll go back, they'll bring back a little bit better with the engines, they'll bring back different cars, they'll tune on them a little bit. We're comfortable with that. The days of coming back with plus 10 miles an hour have been long gone for a long time. We work with the teams pretty closely. So, we got a good handle on that.
Q. As far as your expectations for the other tracks, could you talk a little bit about that?
Pemberton: We've put a lot of work into the mile-and-a-half, the two-mile, the unrestricted race tracks. We've worked on the cars in areas that we have not worked on in the past for those open race tracks. There's more opportunity for downforce to be created down low in the splitter area with underbody work that is cleaner air. Hopefully, that will tend to allow the cars to behave better around other cars.
If there are things that we find along the way that are better for the overall competitor and the group as they race, we'll implement those as we go forward.
Q. Is there any chance that we'll hear any bickering among the different makes, be it from the crew chiefs or car owners, saying Ford is apparently in better shape than Chevy or Toyota?
Pemberton: There's always that opportunity. But last year Roush, they dominated the restrictor plate races. People were complaining about that. So it's not anything new.
If somebody didn't complain about something, I would be in shock, to be honest with you. So it's coming. We just don't know from what area.