Jimmie Johnson, Others Speak On NASCAR Testing Ban

Jen PrestonSenior Analyst INovember 14, 2008

NASCAR drivers, owners, general managers and crew members- and just about everyone else- are speaking out today as the sanctioning body announced this morning that testing for the 2009 season has been "suspended", effective January first.

“I think it's a mistake,” points leader Jimmie Johnson said. “I think teams need a chance to work on their cars and improve their programs to put on a better show.  At the end of the day, speed equals dollars.

“If we had this rule last year with all the work we needed to do, I don't think we'd be where we are today.  I feel a compromise would have been to allow teams to run data acquisitions on Fridays (at tracks).  We still have to test. We cannot sit still and we won't... When I heard the news this morning, I was shocked.

The announcement comes just days after NASCAR Chairman Brian France stated in a teleconference that he didn't want to "waste" time looking for a solution to NASCAR's current economic struggles.

Nice job, Brian. Let's not waste our time looking for answers to problems, when we can just count the ever dwindling amount of money in our bank accounts. Brilliant, sir.

President Mike Helton has said they are looking for alternative ideas and hopes "it’s a temporary situation."

Surprisingly, many others in the sport are siding with NASCAR on this issue.

"I think it's great overall for the sport because it creates an equal playing field," James Frye, General Manager of Red Bull Racing, said. "I compare it to a major league baseball. On the playing field can you tell which of the guys took batting practice or not. If everybody the same, then It won't affect the product.

"For what's going on in the world right now, it's the right decision. We're all in this together—the sponsors, the teams and NASCAR. We're in a difficult position right now. It's not going to affect what happens on Sunday. Who knows, it might make it better."

Denny Hamlin agrees, but also agrees with Johnson when talking about teams getting around the rule.

"I think you're still going to see testing get done. One way or another, it's going to get done, whether Goodyear calls for it or whatnot. But them cutting out the big tests, Daytona and whatnot, you're there for three days for not a whole lot of reason. We go to these racetracks and don't learn a whole lot, because the rubber's not put down on the racetrack. So we really don't learn anything until race weekend anyway.

"We get a lot of practice," he said. "We get almost three hours of practice every weekend. That's a lot. If we can't learn it by then, we shouldn't be in the sport."

Jeff Burton is on the fence about the issue.

"There are a lot of unknowns," Burton said. "I've never been a part of the sport when testing was banned, so I'm not sure of the consequences of that. I do believe that testing is a way for a struggling team to improve. But I also believe we're in severe times, and we need to have severe actions."

This move could save teams anywhere from $700,000 to one million per driver per test, which Helton estimates to be "in the range of tens of millions (of dollars)."

The move won't have as big of an impact on drivers who have experience in the Car of Tomorrow. Joey Logano, though he has tested a COT for Joe Gibbs Racing, has only started three races this season, and only one came in a JGR Toyota.

"Really, testing at the right track with the right tire is the cheapest R&D," Greg Zipadelli, Logano's future crew chief, said.

Teams can only hope that the ban- and these tough economic times- don't stick around much longer.

Thanks to the Winston-Salem Journal, NASCAR.com, The Sports Network, FOX Sports, USA Today and Motorsports.com for the quotes used in this piece.