NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

 
             === New Sprint Cup car gets track time at Daytona ===
 
 Daytona  Beach,FL (Sports Network) - Thirty-four Sprint Cup Series teams began
 a three-day test session on Thursday at Daytona International Speedway.
 
 Teams  are familiarizing themselves with the new sixth generation or "G6" race
 cars  for  the upcoming  season. It's the  first time the  car has turned laps
 around   this  2.5-mile  superspeedway.  The  season-opening  Daytona  500  is
 scheduled for February 24.
 
 The  most recent  test with  the new  Sprint Cup  car occurred  last month  at
 Charlotte  Motor  Speedway. Several teams  did not participate in that two-day
 test  session there.  Michael Waltrip Racing driver Clint Bowyer, who finished
 second  in the championship Chase point standings this past season, turned his
 first laps in the car.
 
 "Everybody  is  super excited  about this race  car and what  it brings to our
 sport  and the  identity that it brings  back to the passenger cars you see on
 the  roads," Bowyer said.  "This is my first time I've been in it. I didn't do
 the  Charlotte  test, so it was  fun to get out  there and see what it was all
 about. They're certainly cool looking to see everybody's cars down here and be
 back to racing."
 
 Matt Kenseth, who is now the driver of the No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing,
 was fastest in the morning session with a lap at 192.757 mph. Kenseth won last
 year's Daytona 500 in his final season with Roush Fenway Racing.
 
 Marcos  Ambrose, in  his  No. 9  Richard Petty  Motorsports  Ford, was  second
 quickest  at  192.736 mph, followed  by Danica Patrick,  who is running a full
 schedule in Sprint Cup this season after a partial schedule in the series last
 year. Patrick's top lap in her No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet came in at
 192.583  mph.  Richard Childress Racing  teammates Jeff Burton and Paul Menard
 rounded out the top-five.
 
 Reigning series champion Brad Keselowski was 31st on the speed chart.
 
 Most  drivers  did single-car  runs while  some did  two-car drafts during the
 session.
 
 Driver/owner  Tony Stewart  said he was impressed with the car after his first
 time in it.
 
 "We  have a  lot of work to do to  get all three teams ready for the year with
 the  new body  changes, so far so  good," Stewart said. "The big thing is just
 getting  here  and seeing the  new look  of the cars.  I think it really looks
 good. It's nice to see."
 
 Patrick  confirmed  during a press conference  on Thursday at Daytona that she
 will  not compete  in the  Indianapolis  500 for  the  second year  in a  row.
 Scheduled for May 26, the Indy 500 takes place on the same day as the 600-mile
 Sprint Cup race at Charlotte.
 
 "I  can confirm  to you today that I  will not be doing the Indy 500," Patrick
 said.  "I am just going to do the Coke 600. The team and I decided to focus on
 Cup.  It's going to be plenty of work as it is. It's going to be important for
 me  running  for the championship full-time  for the first time to really keep
 myself  focused with  the Cup car. But if  I do the Indy 500 moving forward it
 will be with (sponsor) GoDaddy."
 
 While  Patrick is  expected to compete in Sprint Cup full-time, she is working
 on  plans to run a partial schedule in the Nationwide Series this season. Last
 year,  she finished 10th in Nationwide points, driving the No. 7 Chevrolet for
 JR Motorsports. There has been recent speculation that Patrick will compete in
 select races for Turner Motorsports.
 
 "I  know  there have  been some reports  that have come  out about running for
 Turner,"  she said. "We are definitely talking to them trying to figure it out
 and  we are definitely working on that, but there has been nothing signed yet.
 The  exact dates,  the races and the  sponsor have yet to be confirmed for all
 that."
 
 The  afternoon session  featured more multi-car packs. JGR driver Denny Hamlin
 had  the fastest lap of the day at 195.712 mph, followed by Kenseth (195.385),
 Kyle  Busch (195.329)  and Mark Martin (195.063). All four Toyota drivers were
 hooked up in a draft during the closing minutes of the session.
 
 NASCAR officials were pleased with the outcome of day one at Daytona.
 
 "It  was a  pretty smooth  day," NASCAR  vice president  of competition  Robin
 Pemberton  said. "I think  as many single-car runs were going on out there, it
 was  more  important for  the teams to  just get time.  But you know, actually
 really   looking  forward  to  getting  some  drafting  practice  on  (Friday)
 afternoon. But today was relatively uneventful.
 
 "I think that we anticipated the speeds to be as good as they were, probably a
 little bit quicker than what we were the first practice down here last year on
 the test, and everything looks like it's fine."
 
 Sprint Cup teams resume testing at Daytona on Friday and conclude on Saturday.
 
 01/10 21:53:26 ET

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