The original schedule called for two days of testing, but Mother Nature stepped in and shortened it to one. Seven hours of precious track time with the new Gen-6 race car at Charlotte Motor Speedway disappeared because of rain and as a consequence NASCAR officials had to revise Friday’s schedule.
Overnight the rain changed to sleet and snow, depending on where you were, then temperatures took a nosedive below freezing yet there was optimism because the sun was expected to melt away any concerns teams might have had for day two.
So much for the best laid plans.
Cars were supposed to hit the track by 9:00 a.m. with the morning session running three and a half hours. Greg Biffle got the honor of being the first one out when he steered his grey No. 16 Ford off pit row, unfortunately it was 12:45 p.m. when it actually happened.
Before Biffle came out of the garage area, NASCAR once again adjusted their times although the start time was listed as “When the track is ready” and run through 7:30 p.m. if teams decided to take advantage of the late finish. Once the track was green-flagged there was a flurry of activity as if trying to make up for lost time.
One of the drivers that needed the seat time with the Gen-6 was Jeff Burton who is looking to have a comeback year after finishing a disappointing 19th in the points in 2012.
“I think that by anybody’s measurements we didn’t have a good year through the company last year,” Burton said. “We went almost the whole year without winning a race. I think it is easier to start over than it is taking an existing vehicle and starting over. It gives us a chance to stop and say ‘okay what is the best way to develop a car’ and through that, build a program that works for that. I think the timing of that is good for RCR [Richard Childress Racing] in general. Whether that will yield results or not, we will see. I think the timing of it is good for us.”
Speeds during Daytona testing hovered around the 200 mph mark and on Friday at CMS Aric Almirola was quickest 194.021 mph.
The Gen-6 car is the biggest change in NASCAR entering the 2013 season, but there is another change fans will notice when they see the No. 7 for the first time. Tommy Baldwin Racing will now run that number in the Sprint Cup series as a tribute to Tommy Baldwin’s late father who drove the number 7NY as a NASCAR Modified driver.
“It is a very special moment to announce the number 7 on our Chevrolet SS,” Baldwin said. “The number has been in the Baldwin family for a long time and it is going to be pretty special to carry on that legacy in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.”
Dave Blaney will drive the wheel of the No. 7NY, the number formerly used by Robbie Gordon.