NASCAR still tweaking 2013 car after Charlotte test
|By Diego Mejia||Thursday, December 13th 2012, 10:41 GMT|
NASCAR officials will continue to tweak the new 2013 Sprint Cup series car following a two-day test with a number of outfits at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Sixteen teams took to the 1.5-mile venue this week in order to assess the new car and its handling characteristics under the current rules package, which is not definitive yet.
Most drivers were able to lap the North Carolina track at averages that broke the 190 mph barrier.
Hendrick Motorsports' Kasey Kahne topped the charts with a lap of 193.771 mph, unofficially faster than the existing track record, although cool temperatures meant conditions were ideal.
Drivers praised the handling of the new generation car. NASCAR has aimed to increase brand identity for the three manufacturers by creating clearer style differences between each model.
"This car really gives me a lot of sensations that are similar to the old car that we ran," said Hendrick Motorsports' Dale Earnhardt Jr.
"It's still early. I'm trying not to get too excited or form too big an opinion or too solid an opinion of the car. We have got a lot of things to learn about it.
"There are still some rules and things to be finalised and still a lot to learn. I think it's important for us as the drivers and the teams to try and help NASCAR as much as we can."
During the two-day test NASCAR experimented with cars running in a pack to simulate race conditions and generate data for rules tweaks aimed at improving overtaking.
Teams also tested with varying levels of horsepower. Drivers felt corner speeds were up thanks to the new bodies' increased downforce levels.
"It felt fast and I knew where my throttle was, so I knew it was as fast as I have ever been around this track," said Kahne. "I just think this car goes around the corner quicker."
New suspension settings, including adding negative camber to the right rear wheel, where also tested by teams as officials attempt to get rid of some of the set-ups that leading squads were using last year in order to induce yaw in the cars and improve cornering speeds.
"You've got a lot more downforce, but these cars have more drag, so you don't really feel like you're accelerating that much down the straightaway," said Penske's Joey Logano.
NASCAR vice president for competition Robin Pemberton said that the new car remains a work in progress as there may still be technical changes implemented before the season starts in February.
"There's still work that we are doing, there's things that we have discovered," said Pemberton.
"There's things we may implement before the start of the year and those are the things that help the cars run in traffic, not being in as much of a deficit when they're at the back of the pack.
"We are continuing to work on that and we won't quit."
Further tests for the 2013 Cup car will take place in January at Daytona and Charlotte.