Published October 04, 2012
New cars built for the 2013 Sprint Cup season turned laps in excess of 200 miles per hour Wednesday in a six-hour test at Talladega Superspeedway, site of this weekend’s fourth race in the Chase.
Seven drivers – Kasey Kahne, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Juan Pablo Montoya, Brian Vickers, Sam Hornish Jr., Joey Logano and Jeff Burton – turned laps in the 2013 cars. Hornish, driving for Penske Racing, tested in a Ford because the team is switching to the Blue Oval from Dodge for next season.
Kahne’s top speed was clocked at around 204 mph.
“We had five or six of us out there, and it was actually pretty dicey and pretty exciting,” Kahne said. “We're definitely going in the right direction, and that's great from a driver standpoint because we're going to be able to race and pass more, and it’s awesome from a fan standpoint because they're going to get a much better show all the time.”
The cars are designed to provide the car manufacturers with more design identity, and the differences in shape between the competing models is likely to make two-car drafting more difficult at Talladega and Daytona, the series’ other restrictor-plate track.
One of NASCAR’s key goals in recent plate races has been the elimination of race-long tandem drafting.
NASCAR vice president Robin Pemberton said the test went well.
“With a different car, we'll look at what it's going to take for [restrictor] plate size and some other things, but the main concern is how the cars draft, how they react in the draft, and obviously to get more one-on-one racing,” he said. “All of the input that we have from the drivers and the teams so far has been pretty good.”
The cars will race in competition for the first time at Daytona International Speedway in February.
Stenhouse, who is scheduled to run the Sprint Cup Series full time for Roush Fenway Racing next year after success in the Nationwide Series, said the new car has a different feel from this year’s Sprint Cup model.
“The way the front windshield is slanted a little different – it has got more angle in it and is laid back some,” he said. “The car does feel longer. It seems like it is a little bit wider. I have no idea what the dimensions are compared to the one we have now, but it just feels like that.
“With the A posts the way they are, there are a few more blind spots in different areas. These are things we will have to get used to. Any time you change up something, it is different at first, and you might not like it, but you adapt to it and get the feel for it. That is another reason I think it was nice being here today.”
Two practice sessions for Sunday’s Sprint Cup race are scheduled at Talladega Friday.
Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEED.com and has been covering motorsports for 30 years. He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.