NASCAR AMERICA: Sprint Cup teams take part in critical test (VIDEO)

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Today at Michigan International Speedway, 10 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams tested six different rules configurations as the sanctioning body looked to nail down a rules package to give to teams ahead of the 2015 Cup season.

“Our main goal is to harvest data today to help refine the 2015 package,” NASCAR VP of innovation and racing development Gene Stefanyshyn said in a statement. “We are listening to our fans – they have said they like a lot of passing, side-by-side racing and lead changes. That is what we are aiming to accomplish with these tests.”

NASCAR reports that each team turned more than 160 laps on MIS’ two-mile oval during the session. USA Today writer and NBCSN contributor Nate Ryan was on hand for the proceedings, and he gave a full report during today’s episode of NASCAR AMERICA.

You can watch that report, as well as Jeff Burton and Kyle Petty’s own thoughts on where NASCAR needs to go with the 2015 package, in the clip above.

April 5 in Motorsports History: Alex Zanardi’s amazing Long Beach rally

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Alex Zanardi entered the Long Beach Grand Prix on April 5, 1998 as the race’s defending champion and the series’ defending champion.

But the Italian didn’t seem a serious contender for much of the 105-lap event. Zanardi started 11th position and lost a lap early when he was involved in a multicar spin in the hairpin.

Alex Zanardi celebrates after winning the 1998 Grand Prix of Long Beach. Photo: Getty Images

But the race was still young, and despite emerging from the incident in 18th place, Zanardi slowly progressed through the field while battling radio problems that made communication difficult with his team.

With five laps remaining, Zanardi passed Dario Franchitti on the backstretch for second place and then focused in on leader Bryan Herta.

With two laps remaining, Zanardi made his move, making a daring pass on the inside of Herta in the Queen’s Hairpin (which no longer exists as the track layout was changed the following year).

The move was reminiscent of Zanardi’s famous last-lap move on the inside of Laguna Seca’s famed Corkscrew in 1996, which deprived Herta of his first CART victory.

Franchitti passed Herta as well, and Zanardi went on to clinch his first victory of the season.

“On a day when everything went wrong, we came back and won,” Zanardi said following the race. “I can’t explain it. It wasn’t until I saw Bryan ahead of me that I ever thought I had a shot at winning. It was amazing. I have no words to describe it.”

Following Long Beach, Zanadri won six more times in 1998 en route to his second and final CART championship.

Also on this date:

1992: Bobby Rahal led from start to finish to win the Valvoline 200 at Phoenix International Raceway. The win was the first of four victories for Rahal during his championship season.

2009: Ryan Briscoe won the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the first of three victories for the Aussie in 2009. The race was also the first IndyCar Series on Versus, which was rebranded as NBC Sports Network in 2012.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter @michaele1994