Daytona 500 Qualifying: Testing Ban Signals a Sign of Things to Come

Mike VorndranContributor IFebruary 9, 2009

The first wild weekend of speedweeks has come and gone.

There were several big stories.

Bill Elliot making the show in the Wood Brothers 21 is a big story for several reasons.

First and foremost, Elliot and the Wood Brothers are legends in NASCAR, but both have been a minor blip on the radar for the last five or so years. 

Another reason this is a big story is because it points out how the new no-testing rule will effect this season.

This lack of testing is going to put teams on a level playing ground and, as the season progresses, it will help smaller teams with good drivers rise to the top. Just wait until we get to Las Vegas and we will see a whole new NASCAR. 

If you watched the Bud Shootout is was apparent that the cars were not handling very well. From the drop of the green flag you could see the drivers who had car control and those who did not.

Watching Jeff Gordon and Denny Hamlin was a pleasure as they figured out their cars and moved toward the front. And it was laughable to watch the likes of Michael Waltrip and Greg Biffle struggle with everything. Biffle spun at least four times before finally taking out David Stremme in the process.

Without the testing, drivers are going to have to get to a track with a car they think will work and then talk their crews through the changes. As the season progresses you will watch drivers like Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton, Kevin Harvick, Mark Martin, Jamie McMurray and a few others rise to the top because they understand what makes a car work and can communicate it to their crews. 

And you will watch people like Kyle Busch and Robby Gordon sink to the bottom if they start with a bad car. Neither of them has the patience to explain to their crews what a car needs to get better.  

After watching the Bud Shootout I think these cars will be in the top 10 at the end of the Daytona 500: Brian Vickers, Jeff Gordon, Jamie McMurray, Kevin Harvick, Mark Martin, Tony Stewart, Bill Elliot, Matt Kenesth, Jeff Burton and Ryan Newman. 

Even though Stewart-Haas will do well in the 500, don't expect much out of them until next season. The Haas cars have always been good on the super speedways, struggled on the 1.5, and done okay on the short tracks depending on who was driving the car.

If Stewart wins a race this year it will either be on a super-speedway or a short track.  Yes, Stewart is one of the most talented racers out there, but he has always had great cars. This will be the season where we all get to see just how good Stewart is at driving a race car.