NASCAR Roars into a New Sprint Cup Season with a Thundering Litmus Test

David DeNennoContributor IIIJanuary 12, 2012

DOVER, DE - OCTOBER 02:  Kasey Kahne, driver of the #4 Red Bull Toyota, leads Kurt Busch, driver of the #22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway on October 2, 2011 in Dover, Delaware.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The NASCAR Sprint Cup season will set sail this week with the first testing sessions of 2012 in Daytona.

Though it will not make for the most exciting television (they will be broadcast on the SPEED channel), this is the first official opportunity for teams, new and seasoned, to make the necessary adjustments to win both the Daytona 500 and, ultimately, the 2012 Sprint Cup title.

Similar to years prior, one wrinkle will be on the minds of all racing teams: tandem drafting.

The wrinkle is nothing new to any participants from last year: In 2011, testing sessions were focused on a newly paved track and a completely new approach to the points-style racing.

That is all old news.

The new monster on the market this year is how the teams will to adapt to NASCAR's attempts to restrict the tandem drafting that has plagued superspeedway racing for the past several races.

Despite NASCAR mandating a change in the size of the radiator and the placement of the rear bumper to curtail the two-car symphony, do not be fooled: Drivers will still be playing the market to find a solid partner.

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Although the viewer will not see the cars looking like flying insects trying to mate while flying in a circle for the entire event, the drafting style will ensue in a truncated fashion...

Thus the practice sessions will most likely resemble those of 2011.

LONG POND, PA - JULY 30:  Brad Keselowski (L), driver of the #12 Penske Dodge, talks to A.J. Allmendinger, driver of the #43 Insignia HDTV Ford, on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Rac
Al Bello/Getty Images

However, as in any NASCAR season, the personnel have changed to such an extent that great interest should be taken on how new partners and teammates will be able to work together.

A.J. Allmendinger and Brad Keselowski will probably attempt drafting together for the first time in their lives. 'Dinger has little, if any, experience driving a Dodge automobile.

After his release from Penske Dodge, Kurt Busch will be without a solid team partner for the first time in a few years.

Kasey Kahne is lucky to have veteran four-time champ Jeff Gordon as his new drafting partner when firing the engine up for his first laps for Hendrick Motorsports.

Consequently, he will also need to syncopate quickly with Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. if he is to prove his full worth to the organization.Β 

In a sense, the season is about to kick off.

Here comes the prelude to the Daytona 500, take one.

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