Preseason Thunder Test Report - Friday
DAYTONA, Fla. – Michael Waltrip Racing completed the second and, for the team, final day of Preseason Thunder testing Friday at Daytona International Speedway. The test is in preparation for the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season-opening Daytona 500 on Feb. 24.
MWR drivers Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer and Mark Martin spent the morning session practicing single-lap qualifying runs. In the afternoon session, all three MWR drivers joined in a full-fledged drafting session that previewed just some of the excitement expected at next month’s “Great American Race.”
With limited parts and few if any back-up cars at Daytona, crews held their breaths as the new-look Gen 6 cars raced inches apart. The cars lined-up nose-to-tail, two abreast, about nine rows deep, as they drafted as a pack on the 2.5-mile high banks of Daytona.
The pack’s fastest speed topped at 199.650 mph.
While there might be new cars on the track, it was still the same old Daytona. As the 18-car pack raced on the backstretch two cars touched triggering a 12-car wreck. Several cars suffered serious damage, but no drivers were hurt.
The MWR Toyotas snuck through the melee without damage.
“It was carnage,” reported No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr.
“The 88 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) and the 9 (Marcos Ambrose) kind of got together a little bit and the 9 got turned into the wall on the back stretch. I missed the 9 by about an eighth of an inch so I was pretty happy.”
No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota driver had a ring-side seat for first multicar accident involving the Gen-6 cars.
“I was very close to being in it,” Martin said. “I was the first car back from Junior when it all started out in the front of Junior’s car. It’s a Daytona thing. That’s Daytona. That doesn’t have anything to do with the new cars or anything else. That’s just normal Daytona stuff.”
Bowyer said despite Friday afternoon’s drama he feels good about the progress all MWR Toyotas made this week.
“The 5-hour ENERGY Toyota has good speed down here – I’m happy about that. I think we have plenty of stuff to work on and improve on by ourselves. We will find some speed in the car. We learn a little about what we had as far as the draft goes and how the car sucked up. As far as I’m concerned we learned what we needed to learn while we were here. We are lucky we weren’t in a wreck and we have three cars capable of going home, working on, massaging so we can come back here and win.”
The 80-degree weather and significant drafting time enabled the MWR teams to complete their work early and return to its Cornelius, N.C. race shop on Friday after the accident. The team will begin to prepare for the test at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Jan. 17-18.
NAME: Clint Bowyer
HOMETOWN: Emporia, KS
RESIDENCE: Clemmons, NC
NAME: Mark Martin
HOMETOWN: Batesville, AR
RESIDENCE: Daytona Beach, FL
NAME: Martin Truex Jr.
HOMETOWN: Mayetta, NJ
RESIDENCE: Mooresville, NC