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Thursday, January 22, 2009

No Daytona testing? No problem ... Keep ban permanent

For as long as I can remember, it was always the big start to the new year in NASCAR. Over several weeks in January, teams would bring their unpainted cars out to the track at Daytona and get some practice in as Daytona Speedweeks loomed in the distance.

Endless hours of cars circling the sport’s most famous track would be provided, but one question always loomed. Did it mean anything?

Let me just go on record as saying there has never been a point to the extensive Daytona testing, and the elimination of it this year is one of the best things to come from the new testing ban. Daytona is not won individually, it’s won in the draft. So there is absolutely no point to having a bunch of cars drive around the track alone. The speeds will not improve significantly. And beyond that, there was always the issue of “sandbagging,” where some teams were accused of not showing their true speed in an effort to fool the competition and then show up much faster at race time. It was a bunch of pointless head games.

Now, all that is out of the window. Most of the teams will get some practice on the track in the Bud Shootout, where the field seems to grow with every rule change. And the rest will have plenty of practice sessions to take part in during the week leading up to the 500.

As Carl Edwards said earlier this year, there is plenty of practice time at the track each week, and anyone who needs more practice probably shouldn’t be driving a racecar in the top series of NASCAR.

I suppose there may be a scenario where I could be wrong … and that this lack of testing could somehow hurt some teams, perhaps newer teams without as much time on the track in previous years. But I’m pretty confident that everyone will be just fine at Daytona this year without the endless January testing.

The testing ban was put in place as a cost-cutting measure, and I think eventually some testing should be reinstated. But forget about Daytona, as the testing there serves no purpose.


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