As we told you yesterday, four Sprint Cup drivers are out at Auto Club Speedway in California testing for Goodyear in advance of the 2015 season.
But one of those drivers, Michael Waltrip Racing’s Brian Vickers, isn’t just testing tires. He’s also getting in laps with Toyota’s newest version of the Camry, which broke cover a few weeks ago at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
NASCAR’s ban on private testing following this year’s Championship Race at Homestead-Miami Speedway means that the Toyota camp doesn’t have much more time to have its new Camry get on the track. Of course, that makes Vickers’ work at Fontana important.
Even if it’s a bit of a bore from his perspective.
“I don’t know if you have ever been to a test, but it isn’t very exciting for a race car driver,” Vickers said. “I drive for a couple of laps, tell them what I feel, then the engineers will pour over the data, make some changes and back I go out on the track. We just repeat that throughout the day.
“It might not be as fun as racing but testing is where we learn what the Goodyear tires, our car and engine like and don’t like. I enjoy the science behind testing. The more you learn in testing, the better you will be in the race.
“With the reduction in testing planned for next season, days like this are very valuable. So far, I love what I see with the new Camry. It looks good, and drives good.”
Toyota will be the first of NASCAR’s three Cup manufacturers to update its race car in the current Generation-6 Era. Vickers’ teammate, Clint Bowyer, is hoping that they will have a much more competitive machine out of the box in 2015.
“It’s quite obvious that we missed the mark on this car for this year,” he said. “The best thing that I can see is the light at the end of the tunnel is a completely different animal — starting from scratch again next year with a new car and new rules and everything else.
“Hopefully, we can be a lot better to the punch line at the beginning of the year than we were and not have to play catch up all season long like we’ve been.”