Entry list for Sprint Cup Preseason Thunder testing

0 Comments

The Sprint Cup Series opens up this week’s Preseason Thunder at Daytona International Speedway with two days of testing on the 2.5-mile oval tomorrow and Friday.

Four Cup teams will not be taking part in the Thunder sessions. Most notably absent is 2013 Chase team Furniture Row Racing, which features Martin Truex Jr. as its new driver this upcoming season. Also not taking part are JTG Daugherty Racing, Front Row Motorsports, and Phil Parsons Racing.

Mark Martin will test the No. 14 Stewart Haas Racing Chevrolet for Tony Stewart, who is still recovering from the broken right leg he sustained last summer. Also subbing in is Jeff Burton, who will test Michael Waltrip Racing’s No. 56 Toyota in place of Brian Vickers. Vickers had his 2013 season cut short due to a blood clot in his right leg.

Here’s the full entry list for Thursday and Friday’s tests:

NSCS DAYTONA TEST      JANUARY 9-10, 2014
Car # Team Driver
1 Ganassi Jamie McMurray
2 Penske Brad Keselowski, Rusty Wallace
3 RCR Austin Dillon
4 SHR Kevin Harvick
5 HMS Kasey Kahne
7 TBR Michael Annett
9 RPM Marcos Ambrose
10 SHR Danica Patrick
11 JGR Denny Hamlin
13 Germain Casey Mears
14 SHR Mark Martin
15 MWR Clint Bowyer
16 RFR Greg Biffle
17 RFR Ricky Stenhouse
18 JGR Kyle Busch
20 JGR Matt Kenseth
21 WBR Trevor Bayne
22 Penske Joey Logano
24 HMS Jeff Gordon
26 Swan Cole Whitt
27 RCR Paul Menard
30 Swan Parker Kligerman
31 RCR Ryan Newman
32 FAS Reed Sorenson
33 RCR Brian Scott
40 Hillman Landon Cassill
41 SHR Kurt Busch
42 Ganassi Kyle Larson
43 RPM Aric Almirola
48 HMS Jimmie Johnson
51 Phoenix Justin Allgaier
52 Phoenix Bobby Labonte
55 MWR Michael Waltrip
56 MWR Jeff Burton
83 BKR Alex Bowman
87 Nemco Joe Nemechek
88 HMS Dale Earnhardt, Jr
93 BKR Ryan Truex
95 Leavine Michael McDowell
99 RFR Carl Edwards
152 in 2013 B Keselowski Brian Keselowski
47 JTG – not testing
78 Furniture Row – not testing
34, 35, 36, 38 Front Row – not testing
98 Phil Parsons – not testing

Cadillac, Acura battle for top speed as cars back on track for Rolex 24 at Daytona practice

0 Comments

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The new hybrid prototypes of Cadillac and Acura battled atop the speed chart as practice resumed Thursday for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Chip Ganassi Racing driver Richard Westbrook was fastest Thursday afternoon in the No. 02 Cadillac V-LMDh with a 1-minute, 35.185-second lap around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway.

That pace topped Ricky Taylor’s 1:35.366 lap that topped the Thursday morning session that marked the first time the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was back on track since qualifying Sunday afternoon that concluded the four-day Roar Before The Rolex 24 test.

In a final session Thursday night, Matt Campbell was fastest (1:35.802) in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsports Porsche 963 but still was off the times set by Westbrook and Taylor.

Punctuated by Tom Blomqvist’s pole position for defending race winner Meyer Shank Racing, the Acura ARX-06s had been fastest for much of the Roar and led four consecutive practice sessions.

DETAILS FOR THE 61ST ROLEX 24How to watch, entry lists, schedules for the IMSA season opener

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN GTPRolex 24 at Daytona kicks off new golden era for sports cars

But the times have been extremely tight in the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) category that has brought hybrid engines to IMSA’s premier class. Only 0.9 seconds separated the nine LMDh cars in GTP in qualifying, and though the spread slightly widened to 1.378 seconds in Thursday’s practices with teams on varying strategies and preparation, Westbrook still pooh-poohed the importance of speeds.

“It’s always nice to be at the top, but I don’t think it means too much or read too much into it” Westbrook said. “Big fuel tanks in the GTP class this year, so you have no idea what fuel levels people are running. We had a good run, and the car is really enjoyable to drive now. I definitely wasn’t saying that a month ago.

“It really does feel good now. We are working on performance and definitely unlocking some potential, and it just gives us more confidence going into the race. It’s going to be super tight. Everyone’s got the same power, everyone has the same downforce, everyone has the same drag levels and let’s just go race.”

Because teams have put such a premium on reliability, handling mostly has suffered in the GTPs, but Westbrook said the tide had turned Thursday.

“These cars are so competitive, and you were just running it for the sake of running it in the beginning, and there’s so much going on, you don’t really have time to work on performance,” he said. “A lot of emphasis was on durability in the beginning, and rightly so, but now finally we can work on performance, and that’s the same for other manufacturers as well. But we’re worrying about ourselves and improving every run, and I think everybody’s pretty happy with their Cadillac right now.”

Mike Shank, co-owner of Blomqvist’s No. 60 on the pole, said his team still was facing reliability problems despite its speed.

“We address them literally every hour,” Shank said. “We’re addressing some little thing we’re doing better to try to make it last. And also we’re talking about how we race the race, which will be different from years past.

“Just think about every system in the car, I’m not going to say which ones we’re working on, but there are systems in the car that ORECA and HPD are continually trying to improve. By the way, sometimes we put them on the car and take them off before it even goes out on the track because something didn’t work with electronics. There’s so much programming. So many departments have to talk to each other. That bridge gets broken from a code not being totally correct, and the car won’t run. Or the power steering turns off.”

Former Rolex 24 winner Renger van der Zande of Ganassi said it still is a waiting game until the 24-hour race begins Saturday shortly after 1:30 p.m.

“I think the performance of the car is good,” van der Zande said. “No drama. We’re chipping away on setup step by step and the team is in control. It’s crazy out there what people do on the track at the moment. It’s about staying cool and peak at the right moment, and it’s not the right moment yet for that. We’ll keep digging.”


PRACTICE RESULTS:

Click here for Session I (by class)

Click here for Session II (by class)

Click here for Session III (by class)

Combined speeds