By admin | January 20, 2011
By Richard Allen
The first day of the three day testing session at the Daytona International Speedway showed that the track will be incredibly smooth and sticky for this year’s Daytona 500. With that in mind, two things stuck out for me in watching the internet broadcast on SpeedTV.com.
First, the new surface brought back memories of how the track raced in 1979. That year was the last time the facility had been repaved and grip was in abundance. Cars could pass just about anywhere, including on the apron through the tri-oval section of the speedway as cars stuck so well they did not even need the banking to negotiate the dogleg turn.
With that said, one thing that could very well play a role in the Daytona 500 is the yellow line around the inside of the track. NASCAR deems that line out-of-bounds and forbids drivers from dropping below it to make a pass. Late in the race it will be very tempting to cross the line and use the grip to get around a fellow competitor.
NASCAR will have to be mindful and alert because there will no doubt be at least a few attempts to get away with an illegal pass to win the biggest race in the sport.
Another thing that became apparent was the fact that two cars drafting closely together can get out to a big lead. The few cars from the Toyota camp who worked on drafting demonstrated this on Thursday. This strategy has been used often at Talladega but has not been seen as much at Daytona because the track’s rough surface had not allowed for such close racing. Now, the smooth asphalt will let drivers run in a tight nose-to-tail formation.
Such a maneuver will allow for a big lead that will last for a short time until the pack catches back up. But made at the right time, a two car breakaway could prove to be a race winning move.
Certainly, more will be learned over the next couple of days of testing and then during Speed Weeks itself. But on this first day of testing at the ‘World’s Center of Racing’ those are a couple of things I have seen that will be worth watching for one month from now.
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