Preseason Thunder gets underway at Daytona International Speedway on Thursday, January 10. It is a chance to test the latest tweaks on NASCAR's newest generation of the race car that replaces the COT for the 2013 season.
There have been several tests with the new car, known as the G-6 or Gen-6, that included use of the restrictor plate at Talladega.
This will be the final test at Daytona for the teams prior to the Sprint Unlimited, which is the first official race of Speedweeks on February 16, culminating with the 55th running of the Daytona 500 on February 24.
There will be one more test session at Charlotte January 17-18. Teams will be able to test whatever they need to, but this is the last chance on a superspeedway.
Hopes are high for this new car that will have many of the physical characteristics of a car fans might see on the street or at the local car dealership. Bringing brand identity back to NASCAR is a big deal.
The new car has all the safety features of the much maligned COT, but is somewhat lighter and sleeker. It is expected to be less aero-dependent, which puts handling more under the control of the driver.
The goal of the changes is not just to put a product on the track that fans can more easily relate to, but to have a race car that drivers can move around on the track more easily with the end result of better racing.
Mechanical grip has been added to the rear camber with large margins that will allow teams to work on their cars to find the grip they need at any given track. A taller spoiler will also keep downforce more even with the three manufacturers.
For Daytona, the plate size is expected to remain the same as last year at 29/32". The Daytona rules package also includes a 4-by-53-inch spoiler, a spoiler angle of 70 degrees, a front grille that is 1-3/4" high and 23" wide, and a radiator relief valve of 32 psi.
Drivers are scheduled to make appearances in two sessions beginning at 5:30 p.m.on January 10. The sessions always provide insight on the drivers and great fun for the fans with entertaining banter.
Fans will also be able to use social media following the close of testing at 5:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. by submitting questions for Twitter chats using #DaytonaTesting and the driver's official Twitter handle.
Fans will be able to participate in driver chats via Facebook by visiting this link for Daytona International Speedway.
Speed TV will host streaming of the morning test sessions from 9 a.m.-noon each day on SPEEDTV.com and live broadcasts from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. each of the three days.
The season can't get started soon enough for those fans who have waited out the offseason, and drivers will be anxious to see how the new car does on the high banks of Daytona.
The 2013 season is only weeks away, but if you are ready for an appetizer, then Preseason Thunder at Daytona International Speedway is sure to whet your appetite.