NASCAR to hold 13 open team tests during 2015 season

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NASCAR may have banned all private team testing, but there will still be plenty of test sessions this coming season.

In addition to a total of 14 Goodyear tire tests in 2015, teams will be able to take part in 13 one-day open tests. 12 of those open tests will take place following the Goodyear sessions.

The only Goodyear sessions that won’t have an open team test date afterwards are next month’s tire test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and a March 2-3 tire test at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

A full testing plan has been revealed in the 2015 NASCAR rule book. Per the Charlotte Observer, the testing schedule looks like this (keep in mind that tire tests usually involve four teams only):

Goodyear tire tests – Jan. 19, Las Vegas; March 2-3, Atlanta; March 10, Charlotte; Apr. 7, Richmond; Apr. 13-14, Kentucky; Apr. 27-28, Indianapolis; May 11-12, Dover; June 9-10, Darlington; July 13-14, Chicagoland; July 28-29, Bristol; Aug. 24-25, Homestead; Sept. 14-15, Kansas; Oct. 12-13, Phoenix; Oct. 27-28, Fontana.

Open team tests – Feb. 26, Atlanta; March 11, Charlotte; Apr. 8, Richmond; Apr. 15, Kentucky; Apr. 29, Indianapolis; May 13, Dover; June 11, Darlington; July 15, Chicagoland; July 30, Bristol; Aug. 26, Homestead; Sept. 16, Kansas; Oct. 14, Phoenix; Oct. 29, Fontana.

The open team test on Feb. 26 at Atlanta will effectively start the NASCAR weekend there a day early. Atlanta will host the first Sprint Cup race following the season-opening Daytona 500.

Bob Pockrass of the Sporting News also notes that all organizations will be allowed one driver each at the open team tests; if that driver is working a Goodyear test, he or she has to work the organization’s open team test as well.

March 28 in Motorsports History: Adrian Fernandez wins Motegi’s first race

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While auto racing is an international sport, oval racing remains uniquely American. 

That almost always has remained the case since the inception of the sport, but in 1998, the citizens of Japan got their first taste of American oval racing.

Having opened the previous year, Twin Ring Motegi was built by Honda in an effort to bring Indy-style racing to the Land of the Rising Sun. 

Adrian Fernandez was the first driver to win at the facility, taking the checkered flag in CART’s inaugural race after shaking off flu earlier that day.

Fernandez held off a hard-charging Al Unser Jr to win by 1.086 seconds. The victory was the second of his career and his first since Toronto in 1996.

Adrian Fernandez celebrates with Al Unser Jr and Gil de Ferran after winning the inaugural race at Motegi. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

The race was also memorable for a violent crash involving Bobby Rahal.

Running third with 15 laps remaining, Rahal’s right front suspension broke in Turn 2, causing his car to hit the outside wall and flip down the backstretch.

Luckily, Rahal walked away from the accident without a scratch.

“The car was on rails through (turns) 1 and 2, and all of a sudden it just got up into the marbles, and it was gone,” Rahal said. “Thank God we’ve got such safe cars.”

The following season, Fernadez went back-to-back and won again at Motegi. The track remained on the CART schedule until 2002.

In 2003, Honda switched their alliance to the Indy Racing Leauge, and Motegi followed suit.

The track continued to host IndyCar racing until 2011 with the final race being held on the facility’s 2.98-mile road course, as the oval sustained damage in the Tōhoku earthquake earlier that year.

Also on this date:

1976: Clay Regazzoni won the United States Grand Prix – West, Formula One’s first race on the Long Beach street circuit. The Grand Prix would become an IndyCar event following the 1983 edition of the race.

1993: Ayrton Senna won his home race, the Grand Prix of Brazil, for the second and final time of his career. The victory was also the 100th in F1 for McLaren.

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