Wednesday, February 2, 2011
NASCAR Drivers Expect 'Wild' and 'Spectacular' Daytona 500
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- If a few hours of testing the new pavement on the high banks of Daytona International Speedway is any indication, NASCAR drivers say fans can expect an even more action-packed, unpredictable Daytona 500 than usual. And that's saying a lot.
The prevailing opinion during Thursday's first test session was that the spanking-new, $20 million paving job is going to create one of the most wide-open 500s in recent history. Drivers praised the smoothness of the circuit and say it has created an even playing field between the veterans who knew all of the nuances and the new drivers not afraid to lift in a four-wide draft through the corners.
"It's just going to be wild,'' said Carl Edwards, who was 22nd fastest of the 40 drivers in town for the three-day test session. "The track is so smooth and has so much grip that there's no telling what people will try. You know the last lap is going to be insane.''
Michael Waltrip Racing drivers David Reutimann and Martin Truex Jr. led four Toyotas (pictured above) at the top of Thursday's speed chart. Reutimann's top speed was clocked at 195.780 mph and Truex was just a tick off at 195.776 mph.
Red Bull Racing teammates Brian Vickers and Kasey Kahne were next fastest. This was Vickers' first official test since being sidelined most of last season with a blood clot. Kahne, who moves to Red Bull this season, is coming off double-knee surgery in the off-season.
Tony Stewart turned in the fifth-fastest lap in his Chevrolet, followed by the Chevys of Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer and defending 500 winner Jamie McMurray.