The first day of Pre-Season Thunder or Daytona Testing was fairly calm on the track but lots of news stories swirled off the track as more information was released regarding the upcoming days of testing, the Daytona 500 and the season to come. Denny Hamlin was fastest on the chart following the afternoon session and his new Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth was fastest in the morning session. Toyota power with the new cars is already showing through and that has to be a warning sign for all other teams.
Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Mark Martin and Clint Bowyer were among the only group that had a small drafting segment at the end of the afternoon session. Teams got lots of single car data today and most teams expect more drafting in tomorrow and Saturday’s tests.
Danica Patrick fighting cold, No Indy 500
Danica Patrick was bit under the weather during day one of Daytona testing, she told SPEED that she was fighting a cold but would test throughout the day. Patrick also said that she won’t be doing the Memorial Day double of the Coca Cola 600 and the Indianapolis 500. Since Patrick came over from Indy Car she has considered doing the Memorial Day double but she said she won’t be doing it this year. Patrick didn’t rule out the possibility of doing the double in years to come. The last driver to do the Memorial Day double was Tony Stewart back in 1999.
Waltrip to Run Daytona 500 for Swan Racing
Two-time Daytona 500 champion Michael Waltrip will be running the Daytona 500 for Swan Racing (No.30 car) with a Toyota Racing Development engine. Waltrip said it would be too difficult to run the 500 out of his own stable so he shopped around for a ride and ended up at Swan Racing. Waltrip will only run this race for Swan in 2013.
Waltrip will teamup with two former friends, Steve Hmiel and Tony Eury Jr, by driving the No.30 car for the Daytona 500. Waltrip worked with both Hmiel and Eury Jr during his days at DEI when he won both of his Daytona 500’s. Eury Jr will be crew chief for Waltrip and Hmiel will assist the team from his position of competition director.
Hamlin Only To Participate in Day 1 of Testing
With Baby Hamlin expected anytime, Denny Hamlin decided to pack up from Daytona after day one of testing. Hamlin’s girlfriend Jordan Fish is expecting the couple’s first child any day now. Hamlin and team did some single car work along with some drafting and decided to pack up and head back to Charlotte. The No.11 team hopes his teammates can bring back some useful information for the whole No.11 team.
Carl Edwards Predicts Unpredictable Daytona 500
Carl Edwards told members of the media that the Daytona 500 could be more unpredictable than expected due to the suspension of the new G6 car. Here is the quote Edwards used when he made this statement. (Via FOX News)
“The rear end of the car is really unhooked when you go into the corner,” Edwards said Thursday morning after a run in his No. 99 RFR Ford Fusion. “… When I turn into the corner, I can kind of feel the rear of the car moving a little bit more, so I think it’s going to be a pretty wild race. If we get the cars sliding around like that, a hot, sunny day, it’s going to be crazy.”
Keselowski Returns to Track as Champion
This was Brad Keselowski’s first trip to Daytona as a champion and below he describes how his off-season as champion went.
“I am slowly soaking it in so I don’t have a great answer for you but to me it has been a lot of fun just seeing some of the doors that open up. It is really a vague way of putting it but some of the doors that open up, whether it is people showing you more respect or opportunities to do different events you may never have had before. To me that is the most fun and more honoring moments of being a champion. I am really looking forward to seeing how those open up. The great thing that separates winning a championship from winning a race is that you are a champion for a whole year. I feel like I won a race but you get to celebrate it for a whole year. That is a really good feeling.”
By Jason Schultz