With all private team testing now banned in NASCAR, any chance to get extra track time means that much more to teams and drivers.
For Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch, and A.J. Allmendinger, being able to turn laps in a Goodyear tire test today at Las Vegas Motor Speedway could prove important for them when the series hits Sin City in early March.
And especially so for Kenseth, who along with his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates will be driving an all-new Toyota Camry this season.
“I think any track time you get is really important with the new testing rules, banning all off-season testing, which I think we all like, but you’ve really got to take advantage of the tests when you get them and try to gather as much information as you can – hopefully useful information that you can use down the road,” Kenseth said today at LVMS according to a track release.
“For us, we didn’t run particularly well last year and we’ve got a new nose on the Camry this year and new rules changes and aero package and all that stuff, so we’re just trying to get it sorted out and try to find a baseline and hopefully find something that drives good so we’ve got something decent when we come back here.”
Keselowski, who will enter Vegas as its defending race champion after outlasting Dale Earnhardt Jr. last year, also seeks to make the most out of every moment in tests like this.
But with new members on his No. 2 Team Penske crew, he noted that it was an opportunity to build a rapport and get them some experience.
“More so than the changes to the car, the testing ban makes every test you do have that much more critical because you have so much less,” he said. “In that light, a lot of what testing is isn’t always developing the car, but you’re developing your people, developing your techniques.
“We added two or three more people to our team so we’re trying to develop them and get them up to speed, so it’s really a great time for us as a team to have a test.”
As for Goodyear, they were able to get more impressions today on how their tires will fare with the new 2015 aero package on an intermediate oval.
The company held a two-day tire test back in December at another intermediate, Charlotte Motor Speedway, with drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Paul Menard, and Sam Hornish Jr.
Keselowski’s crew chief, Paul Wolfe, believes that Goodyear “got what they needed” in today’s session. But he’s not sure how all of the changes stand to impact him and the No. 2 team.
“It’s still hard to tell,” he said. “It’ll take some different style tracks and different style tires, because that’s one of the big factors for us in how our car handles. There are certain tracks and tire combinations that favor us and that we run really well with and there are others where you could say we’re not as strong.
“It’s hard to say, just based off this one test, if we feel like we’re where we need to be.”