Nascar Weekly News and Notes – 1/31/08

Nascar News and Notes 1/31/08
by Virginia Vroom of

As we approach the last days of testing for teams in the Cup series, we
are seeing more and more carnage on the racetrack. I am not sure if it
has to do with drivers getting too excited before the start of another
great season or if there are still a few more kinks to work out with the
new cars and their chassis, but either way, it’s quite clear that there
were some critically injured egos and machines out there in Las Vegas
this week.

That’s right! This week was the beginning of testing in Las Vegas.
It’s important to note that this is the first time that this new car has
seen this track. In particular, it’s the first time that this car has
really seen this KIND of track. Without a lot of track time on these
configurations, it’s no surprise that there were some issues to start
off the practice. There were mechanical issues and some unknown issues,
whether it be regarding the actual new car or the manufacturer (like
Toyota in Tony Stewart’s case).

Leave it to Tony Stewart to make a complaint about the car or really
about anything for that matter. Although a talented driver, Stewart
again felt the need to chime in with his expertise on the problems with
his car this week. Reportedly, he has an issue with Toyota, not the
track or the actual COT setup. In his coy attitude, Stewart clearly
indicated that it was a Toyota part, specifically the load cell, that
inadvertently caused him to crash.

Despite Stewart’s normal track attitude, the other drivers seem to be in
good spirits despite their setbacks. Regan Smith, Sam Hornish Jr.,
Dario Franchitti, David Ragan and Mark Martin also had their troubles on
the track. These were more or less driver errors rather than mechanical
issues. Jeff Gordon saw his share of issues as well with a faulty oil
line. This actually ended the practice session as there was too much
oil on the track to clean up before the night set in. Jeff Burton
chalked his problems up to right front suspension issues that dropped
the car to the asphalt and swung him into the wall.

With so many problems, some teams are scrambling to keep on schedule
with all of the upcoming practice sessions. Teams are going from Las
Vegas to California for more practice, but the destruction of some of
these cars is changing some plans. Some teams were not adequately
prepared for a ‘death’ of their practice cars as these were the same
ones that were to move on to California. Others are set for California
but are already building a new car to replace the carnage left behind at
Las Vegas. Regardless of the logistics, it seems as though all drivers
and teams remain excited about the upcoming season. The attitude,
despite a few bruised egos, seems to be to just get on with it, stay on
track, and continue to put out fast cars

Here are the results from practice speeds in Las Vegas:

1 99B Carl Edwards Ford 29.307 184.256
2 00B David Reutimann Toyota 29.350 183.986
3 18 Kyle Busch Toyota 29.365 183.892
4 17B Matt Kenseth Ford 29.375 183.830
5 20A Tony Stewart Toyota 29.397 183.692
6 83B Brian Vickers Toyota 29.404 183.648
7 12B Ryan Newman Dodge 29.434 183.461
8 24A Jeff Gordon Chevy 29.456 183.324
9 16A Greg Biffle Ford 29.460 183.299
10 18B Kyle Busch Toyota 29.470 183.237

Let’s make a note that five of the top ten spots are owned by Toyota
with only one Chevy showing muscle during this last practice session.
Other sessions showed Toyota domination again with Kyle Busch at the top
of the standings. I think that we are in for an interesting mix with
Toyota being more and more competitive this year with Gibbs running the
cars. It’s definitely shaping up to be even more exciting than last
year in my opinion. While there’s not so many more rule changes as
there were last year, there’s definitely a lot of changes in the garage
with team changes, driver changes, and car changes. There’s a full
season with the “Car Of Today” and many tracks that the car has never
seen. Get ready, y’all. There’s only nine days until we hear thunder
back on the track!