DAYTONA BEACH -- The development of the new car for the NASCAR Nationwide Series took another important step on Tuesday at Daytona International Speedway.
More than 20 drivers kicked off a two-day NASCAR Nationwide Series test with the new car that will make its competition debut in the Subway Jalapeno 250 Powered By Coca-Cola on Friday night, July 2, part of the Coke Zero 400 Weekend Powered By Coca-Cola.
"The key point is that this is the same chassis, center section of the car, that is used in the (Sprint) Cup Series," said Brett Bodine, director of competition, NASCAR R&D. "We have all seen the on-track testaments to how safe that car is. Certainly bringing it to the Nationwide Series with a different look is an exciting thing to the race fans.
"With the different name plates that are being used and the overall styling of the car and look of the car certainly gives the Nationwide car its own identity. I think the race fans are really going to embrace it when they get an eyeful of it here in July."
Drivers did single-lap runs during the morning session and were able to participate in drafting sessions in the afternoon.
"It's pretty basic testing here at Daytona," said Nationwide Series points leader Brad Keselowski during the lunch break. "The cars seem to drive OK. The true test is when we get them in a pack. That's what we get when we race and that's what the fans expect when we race and love to see. Early indications say that we'll be fine by that. We're lacking some speed compared to some of our competitors. We're going to work on that. All and all, (it's) about what you'd expect."
Fastest in the morning session of the test was 2007 Daytona 500 champion Kevin Harvick, who toured the 2.5-mile tri-oval with a lap of 181.598 mph. Rounding out the top five were Trevor Bayne (180.076), Michael Annett (179.932), Reed Sorenson (179.651) and Scott Wimmer (179.644).
In the afternoon session, Joe Gibbs Racing's Kyle Busch topped the speed charts with a lap of 185.395 mph. Roush Fenway's Colin Braun was second fastest with a speed of 185.117 mph followed by Keselowski (184.809), Steve Wallace (184.801) and Paul Menard (184.559).
Testing continues on Wednesday: The test with the new car for the NASCAR Nationwide Series, which will wrap up on Wednesday, is free and open to the public with access to a section of the Oldfield Grandstands through the lobby of Daytona 500 Experience. In addition, a tram-tour only ticket will be available to transport race fans into the Sprint FANZONE to view all the testing action for $15.
If race fans have already purchased a Subway Jalapeno 250 Powered By Coca-Cola ticket, check-in at the Guest Services counter inside the Daytona 500 Experience for
free admission to the tram tour.
* Greg Sacks, who won the 1985 Independence Day holiday classic in what many believe was the greatest upset in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history, announced that he will return to the driver's seat in a JR Motorsports Chevrolet in the Subway Jalapeno 250 Powered By Coca-Cola, kicking off a brand new partnership between JR Motorsports and Grand Touring Vodka.
Sacks will drive the No. 88 Grand Touring Vodka Chevrolet in the Subway Jalapeno 250, joining a JR Motorsports stable that will include Steve Arpin in the No. 7 Chevrolet and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in a special tribute No. 3 Wrangler Chevrolet for the Daytona event.
* Penske Racing's Justin Allgaier and NASCAR Nationwide Series Director Joe Balash participated in a fan forum during the Tuesday's lunch break . . .Harvick sported a Philadelphia Flyers hat in support of Tuesday night's playoff game.
For tickets to the Subway Jalapeno 250 Powered By Coca-Cola or any of the Coke Zero 400 Weekend Powered By Coca-Cola events, visit www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or call 1-800-PITSHOP.