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Speeds up for drivers at Darlington tire test
“Each time down, you want to watch and see what you’re doing,” he said. “But the fastest point is the point where the track needs your attention and your eyes are not supposed to be on that monitor. I saw 193 or something, but I can’t look at it any longer before I have to look into the corner.”
Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Paul Menard and Juan Pablo Montoya were also at Darlington for the daylong session. NASCAR teams have previously tested the car at Daytona International Speedway and Charlotte Motorspeedway.
“We were faster in race trim than we qualified last year and I think we qualified sixth or something,” Truex said.
Then again, Darlington may not be the place for higher speeds. The track has a reputation as one of the most fearsome layouts in NASCAR. Its misshapen corners _ think of an egg’s oval shape _ and narrow straightaways make it treacherous with every pass.
Edwards said the newly designed car should only add to the excitement here and improve the product for fans. The car has shown more ability to grip the surface, meaning drivers can stick it into places not generally accessible expect to the most fearless pilots at Darlington.
“We can always have more exciting racing. The more those cars are sliding sideways and drivers are manhandling around the racetrack, the better off we are,” Edwards said. “Hopefully, this car gets us to that place.”
The Gen-6 car has been faster at each place it’s been tested. What remains to be seen is how it’ll perform with a full field ripping through the corners and jostling for the top.
“This thing’s quite a bit different than what we’re used to,” Truex said. “There’s going to a lot of things to learn for the teams and for the drivers so we’re glad to get out there and get some laps.”
Goodyear expects to use the information from this test to formulate the type of tire they’ll bring back here in May. If history is any guide, the tire company should bring plenty of rubber. Darlington is known for its abrasive, tire-chewing surface that has shown itself more and more since a 2008 repavement.
“It’s a two-lane highway with a speed limit of 190 mph,” joked Brett Bodine, the former racer who works as NASCAR’s competition director for research and development.
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