DRIVERS ADJUSTING TO SPOILER

CHARLOTTE _ Preparing for the transition from the rear wing to the spoiler, nearly every Sprint Cup Series team spent this Tuesday and Wednesday testing at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

While the spoiler will be implemented beginning with this weekend’s race in Martinsville, teams had limited time with the newest change to the car. A previous test at Talladega Superspeedway saw only 24 teams try out the rear spoiler, but this week close to 50 teams took to the track.



Each team used the two-day session to get acclimated with the new spoiler, but for many that did not take long. Teams seemed to adjust to the change quickly and were able to move on to other adjustments.

“I think the good thing is that there’s nothing large or big jumping out at us saying the spoiler is a lot different,” Jimmie Johnson said. “We’ve just been kind of working on our race car and working as if this was just a normal test and there was no change at the back of the car with a wing versus a spoiler.”

For others, however, the addition of the rear spoiler threw them a bit of a curve ball. For example, Carl Edwards described his test session as “lousy.”

“We’re very slow and it’s frustrating,” Edwards said. “We worked very hard all day [Tuesday] and we’ve worked hard this morning. I would love to be able to say that we’re really fast and it’s going well, but we’re learning all the things aren’t working.”

Edwards followed that comment by saying the move to the rear spoiler was “great” and that it did not seem to affect the feel of the car.

Richard Petty Motorsports’ Kasey Kahne disagreed, but did not rule out the new tire combination as a major factor.

“The spoiler, to me, feel’s a bit different,” said Kahne. “This is the first time I’ve driven it, so down the straightaways it’s a little dragier. The cars feel pretty stuck in the corners, but the tires are a little bit different this year also, so that probably changes that somewhat.”

For many, the return to the spoiler marks a new chance at leveling the competition. With a restriction on testing, teams do not have the luxury they had when the CoT was first introduced. Instead of testing week-in and week-out, everyone will be forced to adapt on the fly starting with this weekend’s race in Martinsville.

“I look at things like this as a new challenge and a clean sheet of paper for everybody,” Jimmy Elledge, crew chief for Scott Speed said. “No one really has any experience with this year and the quicker you adapt and learn to it, maybe you can get the jump on everyone.”

Even with everyone essentially on the same page with this rear spoiler, some feel the No. 48 team of Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus are the ones that will adapt the quickest. No matter what rule change or competition tweak NASCAR implements, the four-time defending champions seem to be a step ahead of the competition.

“Those guys probably feel like they’re on top of the world right anyway and I’m sure they got a lot of confidence, but I don’t think there’s any confidence lost on the other guys that have a lot of confidence in their teams,” said driver David Reutimann. “They may not say it outward, but I feel like this is a new opportunity to maybe gain some ground, where before some other teams had an advantage on you.  Now, you got something that’s completely new and it’s kind of a clean sheet of paper for almost everybody.  It’s just going to see who can adapt the quickest, I guegss.”

Throughout the two day test the cars hit the track for a total of four sessions. Jeff Burton posted the fastest time of the test on Wednesday morning with a lap of 28.539 seconds at a speed of 189.215 mph.

The rear spoiler will make its return this weekend in Martinsville, Va., but many feel the first true test will come on April 18 when the series heads to the Texas Motor Speedway – a mile-and-a-half speedway much like the Charlotte track on which they tested this week.


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