NASCAR “Preseason Thunder” testing to expand in 2014

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All three NASCAR national touring series – Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Camping World Truck – will take part in an expanded version of “Preseason Thunder” testing at Daytona International Speedway in January of 2014.

The Thunder sessions will begin with two days of work for the Sprint Cup contingent (four sessions overall) on Thursday and Friday, Jan. 9-10. Nationwide drivers and teams will follow on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 11-12, and then the Trucks will hit the track on Monday and Tuesday, Jan. 13-14. All sessions will run from 9 a.m. to Noon ET and again from 1-5 p.m. ET.

“Races at Daytona International Speedway are unique to NASCAR competition, and Preseason Thunder will not only give all three of our national series an opportunity to test, but will allow us to settle upon a rules package that will benefit our teams and provide the best on-track action for our fans,” NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said in a statement.

Daytona president Joie Chitwood III also chimed in, saying his track was happy to host all three national series.

“Having the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series teams join the stars of the Sprint Cup Series in testing the high banks will ignite plenty of excitement for the start of the new NASCAR season,” he said in his own statement.

Additionally, NASCAR and DIS have announced two “Fan Fests” for those attending the Thunder sessions, complete with autograph sessions and question-and-answer opportunities with drivers.

The Sprint Cup Fan Fest will go off on Thursday, Jan. 9, and the Nationwide Series will have theirs on Saturday, Jan. 11. For those planning to be in the area, the tests will be free and open to the public with seating in the Oldfield Grandstands on the DIS frontstretch.

IndyCar Grand Prix of Alabama final practice report

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Will Power posted the fastest lap in the third practice session for the Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala. with a speed of 122.953 mph.

Rookie Robert Wickens (122.552 mph) was second fast, foretelling a continuation of his incredible rookie season.

Scott Dixon (122.237), Ryan Hunter-Reay (122.231) and Alexander Rossi (122.106) rounded out the top five.

The practice was interrupted several times for incidents. 

Ed Jones spun off track in turn five after locking up his brakes with 30 minutes remaining in practice three. He was able to drive back to the pits under his own power.

With 20 minutes still on the clock, Jordan King took a trip into the fence after posting a fastest lap of 121.753 mph. He sustained substantial left side damage to his car and came back to the pits on the hook.

“I’m annoyed really,” King said afterward on the live stream at IndyCar.com. “I slightly locked the inside front, then just stayed off onto the grass and that was it. But I wasn’t really even pushing that hard.”

With two minutes remaining, Charlie Kimball lost power and pulled off the track, bringing an end to the practice session.

Dixon also had an off-road excursion.