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Down in Daytona 2008: Drafting Practice Begins on Day 2

Editor’s Note: Mike Lovecchio will be covering testing in a variety of ways for us this January at Daytona. For his Day 1 report, click here.

Mark Martin wasn’t shy with his comments about single-car runs following the first day of Winter Testing in Daytona, going as far as to call the session a “waste of his time” and “idiotic.” Well, Martin and each of the 26 drivers on hand for Session 1 got their wish Tuesday afternoon, when NASCAR allowed the teams to participate in drafting practice one day earlier than expected.

After Jimmie Johnson topped the charts for the second day in an AM session that allowed only single-car runs, teams took the CoT into packs for the first time at Daytona – and it was JJ Yeley who was fastest, with a lap of 187.359 mph. This is Yeley’s first official test for the No. 96 Hall of Fame Racing team, as well as HOF’s first official test with a Toyota as a satellite team to Joe Gibbs Racing – Yeley’s former employer for the 2006-07 seasons.

Surprisingly, drafting speeds jumped up only three mph from single-car runs, but much of that can be attributed to minimal-sized packs and early handling issues for most of the drivers. Speeds should increase on the final day of testing, and again when the second group of Sprint Cup drivers return January 14th, with notes gathered from the first session.

After the conclusion of the day’s events, fans gathered for the annual Fan Forum that allowed fans the opportunity to ask drivers both technical or personal questions.

Of course, the popular topic of the day concerned the drivers’ thoughts of the CoT. The common answer was that the car doesn’t look good or drive good, but – as Kurt Busch put it – “They’re still giving out points and it’s our job to go get them.”

Not exactly a ringing endorsement thus far…

Notes from Daytona – Session 1, Day 2

  • Johnson topped single-car testing in the morning for the third consecutive session.
  • Casey Mears and Reed Sorenson both ran into minor incidents in the afternoon session – both drivers were unhurt and their cars suffered only minor damage.
  • A number of drivers complained of blistering tires just 20 laps into a run – far short of a full fuel load.

Top-Three AM Speeds (single-car runs)

  1. Jimmie Johnson – 184.763 mph
  2. Jacques Villenueve – 184.456
  3. Travis Kvapil – 184.143

Top-Three PM Speeds (drafting)

  1. JJ Yeley – 187.359 mph
  2. Kurt Busch – 187.317
  3. Kyle Busch – 187.149

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