Preseason Thunder Spurs Anticipation for 2014 NASCAR Season

DAYTONAPreSeasonThunder14_4CIs it time for the 2014 NASCAR season to start yet? A lot of fans get antsy for the new racing season when the calendar page turns over for another year and the Preseason Thunder at Daytona International Speedway did nothing but whet the appetite of the fans.

The cars have a slightly different look to them as changes were made to the design, but the biggest change is the look of the trucks for the new season. They are looking more like the street version and are blistering fast with the changes.

In preseason testing, Jeb Burton and Ben Kennedy drafted their way to post the fastest speeds during the two-day event. Burton posted a 191.144 mph run while Kennedy flew to 190.925. Both drivers were driving the next generation Chevrolet Silverados for Turner Scott Motorsports.

They were among 20 drivers who took part in the testing session. John Wes Townley, Matt Crafton and Darrell Wallace, Jr. were among the top five fastest drivers during the event.

NASCAR officials were happy with what they saw from all three manufacturers: Chevrolet Silverado, Ford F-150 and Toyota Tundra.

New cooling systems were designed to eliminate tandem drafting in the Nationwide Series. Driver Trevor Bayne stated that drivers are going to have to have more strategy to get to the front more quickly.

“I don’t think you can wait until five laps to go and hook up to somebody and go barreling to the front,” he stated.

It was Dylan Kwasniewski who posted the fastest speed out of the Nationwide drivers topping out at 190.022 mph. Chase Elliott had the second highest speed with 189. 950 mph, while James Buescher, Bill Elliott and Brendan Gaughan had the top five quickest machines.

Teams tested a new rear spring package and 4.5-inch spoiler which is designed to give the cars more stability in the pack.

You read right. Bill Elliott tested during the event along with his rookie son, Chase. Chase narrowly squeaked by his father to claim the second highest speed during the test session. They drove cars for JR Motorsports.

Their pairing wasn’t the only unique story to come out of Preseason Thunder. Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace climbed back into the driver’s seat in the famed No. 2 Miller Lite machine for Team Penske. The car’s regular driver, Brad Keselowski relinquished the seat to allow the former pilot a chance to take a test run of the updated Gen-6 car. Wallace was given a throwback firesuit and Keselowski surprised him with a custom helmet that quoted, “one last round” with a depiction of a bucket of cold Miller Lite bottles nestled neatly around the bottom of the safety device.

Rain caused havoc for testing and caused the cancellation of the first day. That caused a pressure situation for drivers and engineering teams to gather as much intel as possible in one, eight-hour testing session to improve the race car for Speedweeks.

Austin Dillon, now behind the wheel of the famed No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, drove it to the top of the speed charts logging a blistering 195.109 mph in a single car run. Brian Scott had the second fastest speed of 194.582 and Matt Crafton rounded out the top three with a 194.342. Crafton was subbing for Paul Menard in the No. 27 Chevrolet. Aric Almirola and rookie Kyle Larson were also in the top five.

Of the teams involved, 33 of the 41 drivers turned laps topping 190 mph. The Gen-6 Chevrolets, Fords and Toyotas are sporting a new 4.5-inch spoiler which is designed to add more rear downforce for stability. According to officials, the new aero package proved to perform well in traffic.

The 2014 season should be a great one!