We got a taste of some NASCAR last week as pre-season testing was held at Daytona International Speedway with four drivers topping the 200 mph mark.
A couple rules changes were put in place this season to try to deter drivers from the tandem racing we saw in the four restrictor-plate races last season, but based on the way they ran in testing, don’t expect too much to change.
Some of the changes NASCAR mandated was a smaller radiator, electronic fuel injection and no radio communication between teams. The smaller radiator is in place with hopes cars will overheat faster if not having clean air while pushing a car. This didn’t stop anyone from doing what they need to do to be fastest during the testing.
The electronic fuel injection now makes NASCAR more like Formula-1 where crew chiefs can tune their cars through their computer. It’s kind of surprising NASCAR hadn’t done this sooner. We should expect to see far less engine malfunctions during a race because the crew chiefs will know exactly what’s going on inside the engine now. It will also help better forecast fuel mileage.
As for cutting off radio communications between drivers, this was a no brainer. It should have been put into place immediately last season. Although it may be safer to have drivers knowing what others are planning, the only communication the driver has now is with his crew.
Kasey Kahne and new teammate Jeff Gordon were the fastest of the three day session with a top speed of 201.545 mph. Kahne takes over the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy formerly driven by Mark Martin. If you’re thinking about getting a jump on the Daytona 500 odds at the LVH Super Book, they’re already way ahead of the game. Kahne and Gordon are both listed as co-favorites at 12-1 with six other drivers.
A.J. Allmendinger and new teammate Brad Keselowski had the next best set of times. Allmendinger takes over the No. 22 Penske Dodge this season and could present some nice value at 30-1 to win the Daytona 500. Keselwoski is listed at 20-1.
One of the pleasant surprises of the test session was how fast Kurt Busch was in his new No. 51 James Finch Chevy. Busch got the axe at Penske for his tirade in the season finale which was caught by a fan and posted on YouTube.
There weren’t a lot of opportunities for Busch and the No. 51 was the only one calling. While their season should see lots of struggles, the plate races present a great chance for greatness. Keselowski won in a Finch car at Talladega three seasons ago. Busch is listed at 20-1.
All of Joe Gibbs cars looked fast with Kyle Busch and Joey Logano partnering most of the time. Denny Hamlin got to team with each of them at different times and had the fastest times of them all.
The Toyotas of Martin Truex Jr, Clint Bowyer and Mark Martin all look like they’re going to be fast for Michael Waltrip giving them a great shot at winning the Daytona 500.
Danica Patrick is listed at 100-1 to win the Daytona 500, but she didn’t mix it up too much in practice. For whatever reason, she only ran by herself and didn’t play in the draft with the other drivers. She had the 37th fastest time overall.
The Daytona 500 is scheduled for February 19 and we’ll have more information the week prior along with a Bud Shootout preview.