- NASCAR's new racecars get their first Daytona test today through Saturday.
- The cars are based on the 2013 Ford Fusion, Toyota Camry and the prototype 2013 Chevrolet SS, which will be sold as a 2014 model.
- As many as 35 cars are expected to take part in Preseason Thunder Fan Fest.
DAYTONA BEACH, Florida — Three days of testing get underway today at Daytona International Speedway, as NASCAR teams work with the new 2013 racecars and officials make final adjustments in rules regulating the new cars. The cars are based on the 2013 Ford Fusion, Toyota Camry and the 2013 prototype Chevrolet SS, which will be sold as a 2014 model.
Preseason Thunder Fan Fest will be the first testing of the new cars at the 2.5-mile speedway, site of the Daytona 500, which opens the Sprint Cup Series season on February 24. Speed will provide TV coverage from 1-5 p.m. EST all three days.
Seven cars and drivers took part in a test in October on Daytona's sister track, the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. That gave drivers, crew chiefs and officials the first hint of how the new cars will behave in high-speed drafting, but results could be skewed by the small number of cars on track.
The new cars, referred to as Generation 6 or Gen 6, have been crafted with a primary intent of bringing back brand identity. The previous generation cars had nearly identical bodies on them with minor styling cues such as the shape of window openings and decals designed to resemble the front grille and rear taillight designs of the street-model cars.
As many as 35 cars are anticipated to be on hand for this test. The cars will be prepared to specifications of a rules package teams received earlier this week, stipulating the size of the openings in horsepower-restricting plates placed between the fuel injection throttle body and intake manifold.
The plates have been a part of racing at Daytona and Talladega ever since 1987, when speeds had soared above 210 mph at Daytona and 212 at Talladega. A car driven by Bobby Allison became airborne and came close to sailing into the packed grandstand at Talladega, and NASCAR has labored to keep speeds below 200 mph ever since.
Another issue of concern is cooling, which has been problematic as drivers have run in close nose-to-tail formation in recent years on the two restrictor-plate tracks. Aerodynamics of the new cars have been tweaked to minimize the advantage of two-car tandem drafting.
Another two-day session is scheduled next week at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina, a 1.5-mile track.
Activities begin in earnest for the new season next month, when two weeks of practice, qualifying and preliminary races will culminate in the season opener.
Edmunds says: Daytona performance of the new cars will be critical. NASCAR needs a competitive, racy debut of the new cars in its showcase event.