THREE DAYTONA TESTING LESSONS


Daytona, how we’ve missed you.

The 2012 season took its first visible steps with testing this past weekend. Normally, testing developments are minor…at best.

But when there’s snow outside the yard, sunshine in Florida and a clock ticking down to the 500, it’s more than reasonable to examine three intriguing developments coming from this past weekend.

Hendrick looks angry

Saturday, four of the top five speeds belonged to Hendrick cars. And that’s with Chad Knaus skipping the testing session for a vacation.

Granted, Hendrick teams drafted. Not everyone took the risk. But for a team that licked wounds in 2011, 2012 could be a monster year, especially if Kasey Kahne continues his late season success.

NASCAR looks confused

NASCAR wants to eliminate tandem drafting. It made a laundry list of car changes longer than my wife’s weekend chore list.

Much like that list, drivers ignored the objective of NASCAR’s list. In addition to tandem drafting, fans also saw speeds top 205 miles per hour.

So now NASCAR has speeds higher than they want, drivers using the same techniques they don’t want and some real world deadline to fix the problems. Get some coffee or energy drinks boys.

AJ Allmendinger might be my sleeper pick to win the 500

Allmendinger doesn’t own a Sprint Cup victory.  But his best finish was third at Daytona in 2009. And for a guy who should feel pressure being with an elite team, Allmendinger was all chuckles in front of the Speed cameras. Compare that to Kurt Busch last year.

Happy teams are better teams. Allmendinger had his best year as a driver in 2011, got a better ride in 2012 and will tandem draft with Brad Keselowski, who has a good history at big tracks.  When do the Daytona odds come out again?

Who knew a few days of testing could produce so many possibilities? The Great American Race is still more than a month away. Time can’t fly fast enough.