Next-gen Nationwide cars make strides

NASCAR Nationwide teams worked diligently to the find the sweet spot on the new generation cars during the second day of testing at Daytona International Speedway on Wednesday.

Following complaints of loose racecars on Tuesday, Kevin Harvick said his No. 33 Chevrolet Impala felt "drastically different" in the morning test and posted the third fastest lap with a speed of 186.170 mph.

"It's driving pretty good," Harvick said. "Still a little bit on the loose side, but that's probably a good thing here. No tire issues. We just kind of knew where we needed to go over night and now they're running pretty good."

Joey Logano ran the fast lap of the morning at 186.227mph, followed by Landon Cassill, who tested the No. 5 Chevrolet which will be re-packaged for Dale Earnhardt Jr. as the No. 3 Wrangler Chevrolet.

"I haven't talked to Junior about it but I probably should just so he knows the car isn't going to drive like the old one," said Cassill, who turned a lap of 186.216 mph. "It's going to have a completely different feel and it will take time for him to figure it out."

Reed Sorenson topped the afternoon test session with a lap of 187.817 mph. Braun Racing crew chief Stewart Cooper said the organization put a lot of effort into the cars prior to the test. But most off all, Cooper was proud that one of the Braun cars was the class of the field among the mega teams at the test.

"All of our cars were really good," Cooper said of the Nos. 11, 32 and 38 Toyotas. "We were there among the Hendricks' and the Penske's and Harvick's of the world, so that says a lot. It was better than what we expected. We put a lot of work going into it and everything turned out all right.

"The cars are still very unstable in traffic but we kept working on it. It gave us a good direction for when we come back."

Sorenson, who has made tremendous gains under the Braun Racing banner, will attempt to qualify for both the All-Star and Coca-Cola 600 Sprint Cup events at Charlotte Motor Speedway this month.


Erik Darnell warmed up the No. 60 Ford Mustang on Tuesday before Carl Edwards arrived for the Nationwide test on Wednesday.

Edwards, who enjoys racing a loose car, posted the seventh fastest lap (185.693 mph) in the morning. The Roush Fenway racer was impressed with the look of the new cars and NASCAR's ability to listen to the concerns in the build of the model between design characteristics and the delaying the initial roll out.

"The Mustang looks great," Edwards said. "I am proud to be driving one. Out there on the racetrack, they took all the things we complain about like the nose flying off the corners, not enough grip, things being tight and they fixed it because these things are screaming loose.

"It's exciting. It is really difficult right now to race very close and keep your car going the way you want it to go. If we can get the balance a little better...hopefully they'll be a little more predictable."

Edwards shared the overall consensus that teams will have to tune the cars to get an advantage on the racetrack since NASCAR has eliminated the ability for teams to tweak on the cars aerodynamically. Teams will also receive an extra day of testing when they return for the July 2nd Subway 250.

"We have to go to extremes mechanically to tighten the car up," Edwards said. "We will end up with a new baseline which is far tighter than what was expected."


While Danica Patrick is tied up for the month of May at the Brickyard with her day job -- as an IndyCar driver of the Andretti AutoSport team -- she will soon be testing with JR Motorsports again.

Crew chief Tony Eury Jr. says Patrick will test with the team June 14 and 15 at the Milwaukee Mile in preparation for New Hampshire. The team will then move on to Road America where the series has an open test on July 17th before the debut of the Bucyrus 200 on June 19th.


According to Nationwide Series director Joe Balash: 115 NNS cars have been presented for inspection at the NASCAR Research and Development Center. Out of the 115 cars, 85 have been certified to race and of those chassis, 62-percent were previously Sprint Cup cars which have been modified to Nationwide specifications.


Tony "Pops" Eury Sr.'s impression of the new race car: You never drove your mama's station wagon to a drag race.