NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

 
            === New Sprint Cup car gets track time at Charlotte ===
 
 Concord,  NC (Sports  Network) - NASCAR's new Sprint Cup Series car is getting
 rave  reviews following  the first day of open testing on Tuesday at Charlotte
 Motor Speedway.
 
 Sixteen  teams representing  all  three auto  manufacturers  currently in  the
 series  -- Chevrolet,  Ford and  Toyota --  are participating  in the  two-day
 session  to familiarize themselves with the sixth generation or "G6" race cars
 for  the 2013  season. Several teams did  not have opportunity to test the car
 prior to the end of the season.
 
 "Late  in the season, there was a number of teams that either didn't have cars
 or  parts and pieces or they were pretty deep in the Chase (for the Sprint Cup
 championship),  so  in fairness  to them, we  thought that it  would be a good
 opportunity  to  get in a  couple of  days out here  for those teams that were
 concentrating  on  their season,"  NASCAR vice  president of competition Robin
 Pemberton said.
 
 Dale  Earnhardt  Jr., who was  recently voted as  the "most popular driver" in
 NASCAR's  premier  series for the  10th consecutive  season, gave the car high
 marks after driving it for the first time.
 
 "It's  the  first time  that I've  driven the car,  and I'm really impressed,"
 Earnhardt  Jr. said. "I  really like the balance of the car, and the downforce
 seems  to be relatively  good. The car has driven well for us today, and we'll
 just  move through the  next couple of days here. We'll keep tuning it and see
 what it likes and doesn't like."
 
 Making  his  debut with  Joe Gibbs  Racing, Matt Kenseth  also had a favorable
 impression  of  the car. He will  drive the No.  20 Toyota for JGR next season
 following  his  past 13 years with  Roush Fenway Racing. Kenseth's No. 20 team
 was forced to make an engine change after he over-revved the engine during the
 morning session.
 
 "I'll be honest, that was probably the first time I was nervous in a race car,
 getting  in there and  going out there for the first time, in as long as I can
 remember,"  Kenseth  said. "It's always  exciting, but you're a little anxious
 when you do something different. It's been fun so far."
 
 Just  three  weeks after  winning  his  first  Sprint Cup  championship,  Brad
 Keselowski  is  getting prep time  in a Ford.  Penske Racing has switched from
 Dodge to Ford for the upcoming season.
 
 "It's hard to get a great read on the whole manufacturing change, because it's
 a  different car,"  Keselowski said. "I think  all the signs are there that we
 have  the  potential to be just  as strong if  not stronger than we were (this
 past season), which is very, very encouraging."
 
 Keselowski  also spent time with his new teammate, Joey Logano, who will drive
 the No. 22 Ford for Penske.
 
 "It's  been  a lot of  fun on the  first day today  working with Joey, which I
 think  has been  probably more  of an  adjusting process  than the  actual car
 itself,"  Keselowski added.  "I'm curious  to see  over time  how we  can work
 together and push each other to be the best that we can be."
 
 Jeff  Burton topped the  speed charts in the morning with a lap at 190.833 mph
 in his No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. Regan Smith, who was driving
 Jeff  Gordon's No.  24 Hendrick  Motorsports Chevrolet,  had the  quickest lap
 during  the  afternoon session  at 190.215  mph. Smith  is running a full-time
 schedule for Earnhardt Jr.'s Nationwide Series team next year.
 
 Testing at Charlotte concludes on Wednesday.
 
 More  testing of  the car  is  scheduled for  Jan.  10-12 at  Daytona and  the
 following  week at  Charlotte. NASCAR has also  made plans for an extra day of
 testing  before the  spring races  at Las  Vegas and  Texas as  well as  extra
 practice time for the March event in Fontana, Calif.
 
 "It's been said already there are a some things that we still continue to work
 on,  but they  are all  in  a positive  note," Pemberton  said. "We're  taking
 feedback  (from teams) on the downforce and how the cars drive. So the bulk of
 the work is done, with spoiler sizes and splitters and things like that."
 
 12/11 18:02:54 ET

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