After a week of celebration in Las Vegas, four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers are heading back to work this week at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup contenders Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Carl Edwards, along with Sam Hornish Jr. and Paul Menard, will take part in a Goodyear tire test this Tuesday and Wednesday on the 1.5-mile oval.
The session will mark the first on-track sessions for Edwards and Hornish with their respective new teams (Edwards with Joe Gibbs Racing, Hornish with Richard Petty Motorsports). All three of the Sprint Cup manufacturers – Chevy (Earnhardt/Menard), Ford (Hornish), and Toyota (Edwards) – will be represented.
Testing will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET on both days. Fans are welcome to view the session from the track’s fifth-floor clubhouse seating; they can access the area by entering the second-floor ticket office and taking the elevator up to the fifth floor.
According to a NASCAR.com article from last week, Goodyear officials are seeking a baseline on how the 2015 rules package on intermediate tracks impacts tire wear.
During the Chase weekend back in October at Charlotte, Goodyear had to warn teams about increased speeds possibly having an adverse effect on the right-front tire during the lead-up to the Bank of America 500.
The warning came one week after Earnhardt, Brad Keselowski and others suffered tire failures at Kansas, another intermediate, 1.5-mile oval.
However, no major tire-related incidents occurred during the Charlotte Chase race, which was won by eventual Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick.
Tire tests like these are sure to take on added importance during the off-season, as NASCAR has now implemented its 2015 ban on all private testing.
The Red Bull Racing pit crew may have already made headlines last weekend when it completed the fastest pit stop in Formula One history, changing Max Verstappen’s tires in 1.82 seconds, but the team’s most recent stunt took their skills to new heights – quite literally.
With the help of the Russian Space agency Roscomos, a group of the team’s mechanics completed the world’s first zero-gravity pit stop, on-board a IIyushin II-76K cosmonaut training plane.
Using a 2005 BR1, the team filmed the viral video over the course of a week, enduring seven flights and about 80 parabolas – periods in which the plane climbs 45 degrees before falling again at a ballistic arch of 45 degrees, creating a period of weightlessness for approximately 22 seconds.
With such a short time frame between weightlessness periods, the car and equipment had to be both quickly and safely secured before gravity once again took effect. Each filming lasted roughly 15 seconds, and the stunt was the most physically and technically demanding activity the live demo team had ever undertaken.
“It pushed us harder than I thought it would,” said Red Bull Support Team Mechanic Joe Robinson. “You realize how much you rely on gravity when you don’t have any!
“It challenges you to think and operate in a different way – and that was brilliant. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and honestly, I could have stayed and done it all month. It was amazing. I think it’s the coolest, most fun thing the Live Demo team has ever done with a show car.”
Though Red Bull was the first team to perform a pit stop in zero gravity, surprisingly Red Bull was not the first team to put a car through zero gravity. In 1999, McLaren driver David Coulthard and his car experienced zero gravity as part of a promotion for then-sponsor West Cigarettes.
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