Testing 1-2-3 starts at Daytona today
TAKING A BREAK FROM BASKETBALL TO CATCH UP ON THE RACING BEAT:
One of the sure indications that NASCAR’s Sprint Cup season is just around the corner starts today when three consecutive days of winter testing for the Daytona 500 begins at Daytona International Speedway.
The session is more critical this year than usual because it will be the only practice teams will get at the 2.5-mile track with the redesigned Cup car before Speedweeks, which begins on Feb. 16 and ends on Feb. 24.
It is so critical that every team from every top Cup organization are among the 35 listed by NASCAR as participating and some drivers who have skipped testing in the past, such as Tony Stewart, will be there.
The sanctioning body also announced the session will begin with a rule package that includes a fuel-air mixture restrictor plate with holes of 29/32 of an inch in diameter, the same as last season.
In addition to the testing, the speedway will host driver autograph sessions and other activities for spectators today. Afternoon test sessions will be shown on the SPEED channel each day from 1-5 p.m.
CLOSER TO HOME
Racing action in the area isn’t too far away, either.
Caraway Speedway’s season will begin on March 10, with an open practice on March 2, according to the schedule on the track’s website. The opener will feature all nine of the track’s divisions but will not include one of the five NASCAR Southern Modified Tour races on the docket.
The first of the Modified events come the following Saturday, which is also the weekend of the ACC men’s basketball tournament in Greensboro.
One of the biggest changes is putting the Rusty Harpe Memorial race for Late Model Stocks with a Southern Modified Tour race on the Friday of July 4 week. Previously, the two events had headlined separate shows, with the Rusty Harpe event on Wednesday of that week and the Modified race on Friday. The track retains a Wednesday event but it will now feature the Late Model Truck class.
The Late Model Stock class will race 14 times and after being part of the first three meets will alternate weeks with events headlined by the Late Model Truck division for most of the season. After the opening three weeks, Late Model Stock races are scheduled on consecutive weekends just once – on Sept. 8 and 14.
Other special events include a PASS Super Late Model race on Friday, May 24; UARA late model races on July 27 and Sept. 21; and the Mid-Atlantic Classic featuring late models on Oct. 13 and the North-South Shootout on Nov. 9.
Sprint will sponsor the race which has been known as the Shootout at Daytona, an exhibition that is the first race of the season for the Cup Division on the first weekend of Speedweeks at Daytona. The event, which this time will be for last season’s pole winners and former winners, will now be known as the Sprint Unlimited. ... Speaking of the UARA, it will honor High Point’s Travis Swaim as its 2012 champion at a banquet Saturday night in Hickory. ... Caraway’s award banquet is slated Jan. 19 at the AVS Banquet Center in Asheboro. ... DirecTV announced it is stopping its “Hot Pass” broadcasts which provided viewers four channels of in-car audio and video from each Sprint Cup race.