By admin | December 10, 2012
By Richard Allen
During 2012, NASCAR announced it would allow for more official off-season testing to take place than has been the case in recent years. While teams have often gone to tracks that are not part of the NASCAR schedule to unofficially work on improving their cars, these increased opportunities for more testing on tracks that are actually part of the circuit on tires similar to those intended for use on those tracks will greatly benefit teams as they prepare for the 2013 schedule.
Among those who will benefit most from this week’s test(Tuesday and Wednesday) at the Charlotte Motor Speedway will be Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano. These two drivers are among those who will enter the coming season with new organizations preparing their racing machines.
Both drivers are leaving teams for which they have driven throughout the course of their entire careers.
Kenseth left Roush Fenway Racing at the end of the most recently completed season after having first driven for them on a full time basis at the Sprint Cup level in 2000. In that time he compiled 24 race wins, including two Daytona 500s, and claimed the 2003 Winston Cup(now Sprint Cup) championship.
Kenseth has now moved over to Joe Gibbs Racing where he will become the third(Tony Stewart and Logano) full time driver of the #20 Toyota.
Logano drove Sprint Cup cars for JGR from 2009 to 2012. In that time, he won two Sprint Cup races but never qualified for the Chase for the Championship playoff. This in a car that had previously won two championships with Stewart driving. However, in his time at JGR, Logano scored 18 Nationwide Series wins, including nine this past year.
After being released by JGR the 22-year-old Logano was signed on to drive the #22 Ford for Penske Racing. Roger Penske no doubt hopes the young driver will bring the talent that has shown such promise in the Nationwide Series to the Sprint Cup level in his machine. Also, that particular car and team are in need of stability after having experienced the removal of Kurt Busch, the suspension of A.J. Allmendinger and the part-time status of Sam Hornish all within one year’s time.
NASCAR will conduct two scheduled tests in Charlotte during this off-season as well as one test in Daytona. In recent years, very few official practice sessions have been allowed by the sanctioning body during the off-season which forced teams to seek locations not on the schedules of any of the sport’s top divisions.
What this additional seat time will allow is for drivers and teams to work together on tracks where they will actually race. New drivers will be able to get the feel for cars prepared by organizations they have not previously driven for. But perhaps more importantly, pilots such as Kenseth and Logano will be communicating with their new crew members which will allow each to get used to the other’s vernacular and preferences.
With Sprint Cup racing being so competitive, it can be difficult for new driver/team combinations to have to adjust ‘on the fly’, or during the course of the actual season. This additional testing will no doubt help all teams but those of Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano stand to gain the most from the extra time together.
Upcoming Sprint Cup Test Sessions:
December 11-12 at Charlotte Motor Speedway
January 10-12 at Daytona International Speedway
January 17-18 at Charlotte Motor Speedway
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