On Thursday, March 6, forty-eight drivers from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series turned laps at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to further build upon the 2014 intermediate-track rules package that was formalized late last year. As the first official NASCAR test with the new 2014 rules package in place, the four-hour session gave teams a chance to prepare for Sunday’s Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway; the series’ first visit to a 1.5-mile track in 2014.
“There’s a bit of a learning curve,” said Gene Stefanyshyn, NASCAR vice president of innovation and racing development. “The package we put together is going to be used on all the tracks except the superspeedways, so at Phoenix we began to see a glimpse, but obviously since that’s only a mile track, the speeds are a lot lower. They could probably only harvest maybe 30 to 40 percent of the capability of the package, so really this will be the first race where we get to see they can fully exploit the aerodynamic and chassis changes.”
Included in the new intermediate track rules package are various physical changes to the car that were determined after much collaboration between NASCAR, the teams and the manufacturers. Following two test sessions at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October and December, NASCAR implemented chassis and aerodynamic adjustments into the setup specifications to encourage more green-flag passing and side-by-side racing, including statically setting the race car ride height, a square leading edge on the splitter, side skirt and rear fascia adjustments, a 43-inch by 13-inch radiator pan, and an eight-inch rear spoiler.
Phoenix race winner Kevin Harvick was at the top of the speed charts at the conclusion of the test session., logging a total of 42 laps with a top speed of 190.148 mph.
“We were three or four tenths off [at the start of the test] and had to kind of abort on what we were doing and go a different route,” said Harvick. “The next route was not as good and the third route finally wound up being good. I think those are good things that are, for us, important because it gives us direction when we go to other mile and a half race tracks so we don’t have to do like we did today. We can get to what has been working for us and just go straight from there to progress that package to make it even better.”
Racing action will continue for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with the Kobalt 400 on Sunday, March 9 at 3 p.m. ET. Live coverage will air on FOX, Performance Racing Network Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, with additional coverage on NASCAR.com.
RacingLive! on ESPN.com is a live blog where fans can engage in debate and discussion with ESPN.com writers and editors during the NASCAR Sprint Cup races. On Sunday, March 9, RacingLive! Las Vegas will coincide with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where fans can join ESPN.com’s NASCAR experts in dissecting every aspect of the race live.
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