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.

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