NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Car Of Tomorrow Test Driver Quotes
JACQUE VILLENUEVE, Bill Davis Racing:
What are your initial thoughts of Talladega Superspeedway?
"It's very nice to finally drive around this track -- I've heard a lot about it and it is a very special race track. It drives different than any other track I have been on because you can drive wide-open all the way around. You just have to be smooth and be careful not to use too much power so you can roll and get an extra tenth just by driving smoothly."
What have you been told to expect from drafting practice?
"I've been told that I will be wondering what this bunch of lunatics is doing out there running so close to each other the whole time -- just like kids I suppose, but it should be fun. I am probably going to stay in the back and watch what happens."
What were your thoughts on the laps you took this morning?
"We got going very late this morning and only got a couple runs in -- we haven't been able to work on set-up at all yet. I was just getting used to running the fast laps out there as far as staying up to the top of the race track as long as possible before coming back down. I'm still working to figure everything out, but we will get more time this afternoon."
What have your two testing experiences been like in the NASCAR truck and
"The two tracks that I have tested on so far have both been mile-and-a-half tracks with one being smooth and the other was bumpy. It is difficult to compare those two tracks to this track, but I also think the Bill Davis Racing team has had more experience on those tracks in the trucks rather than the COTs. From the word 'go' the truck was very nicely balanced and when we tested the COT, it took us until the end of the day to get it to respond in a nice way. Both were fun, but the truck was faster in the corners -- maybe that's just because we were at Chicagoland."
How much communication have you had with your Bill Davis Racing teammates
and with other drivers in the garage?
"When we are not in the cars -- we have been able to talk quite a bit and they are a big help. Really all of the drivers in the garage have been very friendly and I'm not used to that. I was used to everyone minding their own business and kicking everyone down so this is a nice change."
DAVE BLANEY, No. 22 Caterpillar Toyota Camry:
How has your test session been this morning?
"These cars drive really good around here -- they'll control our speeds with the restrictor plate so that's not really an issue. They're nice and solid and I really think it will be a lot of fun out there in drafting. I think you'll be able to suck-up to people a lot faster that we could before. We haven't been able to make too many runs, but we got faster every time. I don't know what kind of speed differences we are seeing yet between the COT (Car of Tomorrow) at the other car, but I know there is a bigger plate in this car because it has so much more drag. NASCAR will make the speeds in these cars whatever they want it to be -- they could go 210 (miles per hour) or they can go 180."
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Chevrolet Impala:
"Our morning was relatively uneventful. We were bottoming out, really throwing a lot of sparks out. So we kind of aborted our very first run. That's basically all we were going to do here today, to assess what kind of height we were going to have on the car running it here. So we ground off most of the bottom side of the car and went back out there and ran, and our lap time looked very competitive to everyone else.
"It's tough to say how the drivers are going to take it, but the way the cars are set up and the big hole they punch in the air, it should be way wilder than anything we've ever seen here. I'd say it's going to be a lot like
the Truck races where they talk about how big the closing rate is. I really don't see that the cars are going to be pulling apart very much. We'll see when we get to drafting this afternoon. But I think these cars are going to punch such a big hole in the air that we're really going to be stuck together like glue."
(compare the CoT car here to the old car) "I really didn't notice that much difference, not really as much as I thought. You feel a lot of wind buffering in this car versus the other car. It's just a huge hole that it punches in the air. Other than that, the way it actually steers and everything is not that much different. We have a little bit more steering-wheel angle in this car than what we had in the previous car, because the other car we had just fine-tuned to pretty much drive itself around the race track. Really, it's not a whole lot of difference in the driver's seat.
"The only issue I think we're going to have with having kind of that old slingshot pass is we're running so many RPMs right now, even by ourselves. Most of these motors are making max power probably between 7,500 and 8,000 RPMs. By ourselves we're running close to 8,400, so we know we're going to be upwards of 9,000 in the pack. What that does is it just takes away a lot of throttle response. You're not going to be able to just lift off the gas and get back on it and really have that extra power, because you're already so far past your power band. The problem with that is we're stuck to this gear, so we can't go down a gear to kind of compensate for it. And if we did go down a gear, it would just make the speeds so ridiculously fast that they'd have to slow them down some other kind of way. So really we're kind of stuck with what we have, but I still think you're going to have a lot of passing.
"I think you can have the absolutely slowest car in qualifying here, and you'll be able to just slingshot yourself right to the lead with no problem. Really, there's not a whole lot of speed you're going to try to find out here today and tomorrow to make your car better, because a guy (without the fastest car) will still be able to win.
"The stronger Car of Tomorrow programs were the ones that made their cars turn. I think Hendrick and Gibbs were the first ones to really get their cars turning good. Now with setup being kind of out of the issue (at Talladega), you're allowing the whole field to catch back up. And with the huge hole in the air, it's just going to make everyone in a tight pack. I don't see anyone really being off the pace here when it comes to the race.
"They're not going to speed the cars up, because the speeds are already relatively fast. We have a 1-inch wicker on the back now. They're probably going to go to somewhere around an inch-and-a-eighth, inch-and-a-quarter, so to slow them down. We're able to change our wing angle from 14 or 15 degrees to 10 here, so we're laying it back, but yet we're using a bigger wicker. That's going to slow the cars down, however that's just going to punch a bigger hole in the air for the guy behind. So if they do that, you're definitely going to have more of a closing rate than you did before."
"You're going to see a very similar race to what the Truck races are. And everyone would argue that the Truck races are probably the best superspeedway races, simply because guys can really just pull out and pass at will. I think you're not going to have as big a deal with side drafting as you did with the old car, since the wings are a little bit up off the trunk. I think you're going to have more front and back drafting than you will side drafting, which is what you have with the Trucks. Really, it's tough to say until we get out there what we're going to have, but I think it's going to be pretty exciting."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet Impala:
"The amount of cars that we have here for a test session makes it real tough to get out for single-car practice. I think I did four laps all morning long, so it's been quite boring to me. I'm looking forward to drafting practice and actually having some fun.
"I was part of the test session last year here. We found packages that would really let the cars suck up well and create a lot of passing. The problem was it pushed that threshold for the speed up too high, and then we had to come down on the restrictor plate and other things to get the cars back where they needed to be speed-wise. When we had the cars at the right speed for safety, it took out some of the passing. So I'm hopeful that after a year, NASCAR has been able to find a little bit better drafting package as a whole here where we can still have passing but keep the speeds down where they need to be.
"The (CoT) cars line up better and you can get away with a lot more pushing and shoving. The cars have a lot of downforce and they're real comfortable to drive, so I think that will lead to a little bit more aggressive driving. The potential is there for more rough driving than in the past."
KEVIN HARVICK, No. 29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet Impala:
There are just a lot of unknowns that you otherwise wouldn't have coming here. But you have to transition to the car at some point to make it all work for the teams. So I think there are just a lot more unknowns than typically coming here, just with how the car is going to race.
"So far the car drives really well and everything seems to be fine. It's just a matter of not having 500 miles with the engine and the car, basically having nothing on the race track for that period of time. You can do all the testing that you want, but you can't ever put it in race conditions."
DALE JARRETT, No. 44 UPS Toyota Camry
What are some of the initial differences you are seeing in the COT here
versus the other car?
"The biggest difference is seeing the change in RPM -- by the time you come around, after you come out of the pits and some back around to the start/finish line, you have reached your maximum RPM. We have more throttle response and the cars drive fine here because the track is so smooth. We'll have to wait until we get out in traffic to really see what happens."
What are you expecting to see in drafting practice with the COT?
"The only thing I have heard about these cars in drafting trim has been from few guys that were here for the tire test and that was that the cars get loose. But we'll have to see what happens because I would expect that with the big hole these cars punch in the air -- drafting should come into play a little more than we have been used to."