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.

Gabby Chaves to sub for Joao Barbosa at Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen

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Gabby Chaves is set to return to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Watkins Glen International later this month.

The Columbian-American driver, who last competed in IMSA in 2016 – with the DeltaWing outfit – will sub for the injured Joao Barbosa – he hurt his wrist in a cycling accident earlier in June – in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.

Chaves will partner Filipe Albuquerque and Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Cadillac.

Chaves expressed gratitude for being asked to fill in, but kept his enthusiasm muted, noting that he is getting the opportunity ultimately because another driver got hurt.

“The first thing is of course that you never want to have an opportunity because someone got hurt, so this is an unfortunate circumstance with Joao having his injury,”said Chaves. “But I appreciate the opportunity to join the championship-leading team. Mustang Sampling Racing has had a strong start this year and hopefully I can help the team continue to have those kinds of results.”

Chaves added, “I love Watkins Glen, it is a great track and I am looking forward to racing the Cadillac Prototype there. I’m excited to be going back to endurance racing. With different classes all racing at the same time, there is a lot for the driver to deal with as you work through traffic. So I am looking forward to racing at the Glen again, and I really appreciate this opportunity with Mustang Sampling Racing.”

Chaves’ most recent IMSA event was the 2016 Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, when he finished seventh in the Prototype class.

The No. 5 Action Express Cadillac currently sits tied with the sister No. 31 Whelen Engineer Racing Cadillac of Eric Curran and Felipe Nasr atop the IMSA standings, though Barbosa’s hopes of a driver’s championship are set to take an enormous hit with him missing Watkins Glen.

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