I was lucky enough to spend the last couple days watching the Cup Cars test at RIR and came back with some observations. First off, the cars are much faster than they were with the previous ‘car of tomorrow.’ The way the drivers drive the track is so much different than they did before.
Back in the day with Dale Jarrett and others won Richmond, the favorite line on the scanners was ‘float her in’ and ‘watch your brakes.’ Now, they dive deep into the turns. Although some do drive the track different.
Here’s my observations on the various makes:
When you start with the BowTie brigade, you have to start with Jimmie Johnson foremost. And since Hendrick Motorsports was the only Chevy team there, I only have my observations on the teams.
Jimmie? Well, Jimmie is Jimmie. Car looks smooth, bad ass fast, and has a different engine sound than the other three HMS cars. Not sure if it’s from the headers or a combination. However, what I did notice is he eats folks up getting into the turn because he backs it up…and then gets back on the gas earlier. Chad and the boys have it down to a science in getting the car the way Jimmie wants it.
Jr and Kasey Kahne I can lump together. Both had moments where they looked fast and other times they looked ho hum. Of the two, JR’s car looked faster but without a stopwatch I can’t prove it. I think they’ll run okay in 3 weeks.
Jeff Gordon…he looked the worst of the four. Even when he said ‘make no changes to the car’ he didn’t look fast. Very slow getting onto the gas off turn 2 and at RIR turn 2 makes or breaks your lap. Mess up 2 and your toast for that lap.
So I’d rank it 48-88-5-24 in that order.
No offense to Bad Brad, but I think Joey just flat out was running better. Now, maybe the blackish blue primer made 2 seem slower but I just never got the feel that his car was as fast as Joey’s.
Not to say that Joey’s didn’t have its ho-hum moments. It did when I got to the track around 4pmish. However, the longer the day went on, the faster it got. At one point he was visually faster than any other car on the track and was ‘handling down the backstretch’ equal to Jimmie.
Brad had his moments too when he was bad fast too.
Casey Mears’ team tested but it never seemed like they got going well. At first, they were geared too low and not handling. Then it seemed they changed gear and got fast…and then switched back at night and took a major step backwards.
There was a Fusion there in pure primer so I couldn’t tell who owned it (Penske or Germaine) but I can tell you this: it was bad fast when on the track. You could look at it and tell it was fast because the Hendrick cars were in same color primer so it was easy to compare against. JR had to hurry to get out of the way a couple times because the car was that fast.
So, ranking the Ford Guys: Primer Car, 22, 2, 13
Michael Waltrip Racing (Toyota)
Of the Toyota boys, both Truex Jr. and Bowyer were fast at times too. During a 30 lap simulated race, he pulled away from JJ and the boys (even though Logano came out late and ran everyone down but 56 by the end. 22 passed everyone including JJ having started a straightaway behind)until deciding it was time to hit the garage. So, he ran good.
Bowyer’s car looked smooth off turn 2 a bit more than 56 but both were running good.
Almendinger in 55. Never seemed that fast, but in his defense, he had to hop into a car on short notice and run a test with a team he’s not familiar with. I’m not going to knock him for that. If Vickers had been in the car, I might’ve been able to get a better feel.
Ranking: 56, 15, 55
We’ll have to wait for race weekend to see who will win, but I think 48, 22, 2, 5, 88, 56, 15 have to be considered at the top of the list. Gordon might surprise me but I’m not expecting much and JR? He can be hit or miss. Given the need for a Chase spot, I’m guessing he and Steve Letarte are going to ‘hit’ more than ‘miss.’
I hope everyone has fun at the race. J
Fans Invited to Attend Free Event; Grandstands Open at 5:00 p.m. Each Night
Fans are invited to watch NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stars running laps at Richmond International Raceway August 19-21, in advance of next month’s Federated Auto Parts 400 – “One Last Race to Make The Chase” – at America’s Premier Short Track. RIR’s grandstands will be open free to the public from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. each night.
Drivers will get precious track time “under the lights” in preparation for one of the most anticipated races of the season. Only the top 10 drivers in the point standings and two Wild Cards (drivers who are in positions 11-20 with the most wins) will earn a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The way things are shaping up, there could be more than 10 drivers on the proverbial “bubble.”
Participating in the upcoming tests:
Monday, August 19 and Tuesday, August 20
- Brad Keselowski (8th in the point standings; 0 wins)
- Joey Logano (16th in the point standings; 0 wins)
- Casey Mears (24th in the point standings; 0 wins)
Tuesday, August 20 and Wednesday, August 21
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. (6th in the point standings; 0 wins)
- Jeff Gordon (13th in the point standings; 0 wins)
- Jimmie Johnson (1st in the point standings; 4 wins; locked in to the Chase)
- Kasey Kahne (12th in the point standings; 2 wins: #1 Wild Card driver)
- Martin Truex Jr. (10th in the point standings; 1 win)
- Clint Bowyer (2nd in the point standings; 0 wins)
- Mark Martin (29th in the point standings; 0 wins)
Fans may enter Richmond International Raceway through the Main Gate, located at the corner of Laburnum Avenue and Meadowbridge Rd. Parking will be on the Midway, outside of Gate 70. A concessions stand will be open with food and beverages, and fans are allowed to bring in their own food and beverage (no glass allowed).
Now I’ll explain later why this was a pure smokescreen for something that NASCAR did behind the scenes. Now, when I explain it, keep an open mind and realize I’m speaking business wise, ok? Even sports associations have business plans.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — NASCAR announced on Wednesday there will be no penalties for the 31 teams caught with altered roof-flap spacers last weekend at Daytona International Speedway.
NASCAR confiscated the roof flaps, designed to keep cars on the ground during wrecks at high speeds, from 16 Sprint Cup teams and 15 Nationwide Series teams before Thursday’s practices.
Officials said the roof-flap spacers had been machined down to reduce weight in the roof of the car.
Teams and manufacturers, according to the NASCAR rulebook, must be installed as specified in the instruction sheet supplied with the hinged air deflector kit. Teams were allowed to replace the spacers that attach to the hinge of the roof flaps to meet specifications.
Because the governing body frowns on alterations to parts, particularly when they apply to safety devices, many teams expected penalties.
“We examined this from every aspect we possibly could and determined that there would be no penalties involved,” NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said in a statement. “Based upon our inspection and subsequent review it was our determination that the functionality and safety aspects of the roof flaps were not compromised and the on-track competition would not be impacted.
“Moving forward we will work with the roof flap manufacturer and the race teams to evaluate and optimize the associated installation hardware, review the process in its totality and communicate in a timely manner to the garage area any revisions that we determine need to be made.”
The Cup drivers whose cars had the altered spacers were: Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr.,Michael Waltrip, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Trevor Bayne, Casey Mears, Jamie McMurray, Marcos Ambrose and Aric Almirola.
Jimmie Johnson won the race in a Hendrick Motorsports car, none of which were found to have the spacers.