Jeff Gordon Pepsi Max Test Drive Two

Many in the Motorsports News world yelled “shenanigans!” when Jeff Gordon was featured in “Test Drive,” a Pepsi MAX spot shot in Concord NC went viral. They proclaimed the video was a fake and that a stunt man, not Gordon, was behind the wheel, going on to point out the use of a brand new Chevy Camaro, not the used 2010 model that was presented in the commercial.

One of those critics, blogger Travis Okulski from Jalopnik, still isn’t sure if Gordon drove in that video, but he’s certain the pro racer was in the driver seat during the latest video. Okulski was the person featured in the latest “Test Drive” video as Gordon played an ex-convict taxi driver not ready to be stopped by the police car that began following him.

Preseason Thunder: The Big One Sends Many Home After Drafting During Daytona Test

481390_10151345448202422_619578988_nThis pretty much says it all.

After teams voluntarily made single car runs an exclusive in the morning practice session, a familiar sight at Daytona came back. Drafting. Teams were hesitant to form a pack during the course of the test, mostly due to a lack of components and cars needed to repair and replace mangled or damaged equipment.

The drafting started with drivers minding their manners and taking it easy. Well, as easy as you can at 199.000 mph on a super speedway. Then, about an hour into the practice session, the big one. Twelve cars tangled after Dale Earnhardt Jr. bumped Marcos Ambrose, sending Ambrose spinning and the field in chaos.

“We were going around one and two I thought Marcos was backing up to me,” Earnhardt said to Speed’s Bob Dillner. “It looked like he was laying off the leader a little bit, looking to get a run on the back straightaway. We came down off of two and I was trying to push him a little bit and had a hard time getting our bumpers to line up. There is a roll bar on the front of my car and his car. Thats the first time I had pushed him forward and his car sit up on top of that roll bar and then I was kinda wheel barreling him around a little bit and ended up getting him turned I guess. I was hoping I didn’t’ start it, I don’t know if I did.”

Earnhardt did, in fact, “start” the big one, and Marcos Ambrose agrees with Earnhardt that the shape of the cars is what really started the crash.

“I guess I just got caught on the edge of his bumper there,” Ambrose said. “The shape of the nose and the tires just spun me out. It was hardly even a bump. It was just enough at the wrong angle, wrong time and I just went for a spin.”

2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Brad Keselowski also attributes the overall change in the cars. He said that drivers need to take a look back to the way they used to race before the days of the Car of Tomorrow.

“The sport is rewinding,” said Keselowski. “That’s an important thing to say, because the sport advanced to where got to the two car tandem about three or four years ago and there were certain things you could do then that you could never do in the past without wrecking. Now the rules package has been changed back to where it was in the early 2000s. I think the fans and everyone else enjoyed the racing a little bit better [referring to racing in a pack versus tandems], so as drivers we have to rewind back to how we used drive those cars and this is how you do it. You learn and make mistakes.”

Following the crash, single car runs filled the remainder of the day and possibly will be the order of things tomorrow.

Several teams loaded up their mangled machines to return home while others are doing so without any damage at all. The Michael Watrip Racing trio of Mark Martin, Martin Truex Jr., and Clint Bowyer will not participate in tomorrow’s sessions. Neither will Scott Speed in the 95 car. The only teams involved in today’s accident that will return tomorrow are Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch, and Carl Edwards.

Earnhardt’s car wasn’t damaged by the nudge that sparked the crash. Busch’s car received repairable damage to the left rear and Carl Edwards is driving for the only team that has a backup car to use.

Timing and Scoring from the afternoon practice session:

NASCAR Preseason Thunder at Daytona – Day 2 – Practice Session 2 – Afternoon


Preseason Thunder: Second Day Morning at Daytona Goes to Childress

BAVpF6BCIAARWxz.jpg-largeDay two of NASCAR Preseason Thunder at Daytona International Speedway got off to a fast start. The Richard Childress Racing group topped the speed charts as single car runs once again dominated the session.

Jeff Burton was fastest with a speed of 194.805 mph, teammate Kevin Harvick followed suit with a speed of 193.557 mph. Matt Kenseth separated Paul Menard from his teammates with Menard running the fourth best speed. Rookie Austin Dillon, in a fourth RCR machine is testing various engine packages for the team today but still pulled out the 10th fastest time in single car runs during the morning session.

The first incident on track with the Gen 6 car featured Dave Blaney. Blaney’s Tommy Baldwin Racing number 36 broke loose coming off of turn two and slapped the outside wall with the right front. Damage continued along the right side of the car and rear quarter panels and bumper. Unfortunately for Blaney and TBR, the team does not have a backup nor replacement parts. The damage put an end to their Daytona test.

The team posted this on their official Facebook Page, “After a bit of bad luck, our Daytona testing is done. Dave made contact with the wall off of Turn 2. We don’t have a backup, so we will go back to the shop and fix this car to get it ready for the Daytona 500.”

For the stat lovers out there, here is the official timing and scoring from the morning practice session.

NASCAR Preseason Thunder at Daytona – Day 2 – Practice Session 1 – Morning

PRESEASON THUNDER: Joe Gibbs Racing Leads Day 1 at Daytona

318029_10151346478574222_1918388885_nFor the first time in 2013, cars rolled onto the track at Daytona International Speedway as NASCAR Preseason Thunder, the testing sessions that kick-off each NASCAR season, began under sunny Florida skies and a warm sun.

Matt Kenseth led the speed charts for most of the day as teams were skiddish of drafing with new Gen 6 cars. Kenseth and Denny Hamlin were the first and only cars to draft in the morning session. Most teams are still in the process of building new fleets of cars, so parts are in high demand and preserving the cars that have been built is a priority at the moment.

Single car runs were the order of the day. After the noon lunch break, Jeff Burton found his way to the top of heap and held fast until the late moments of the session when the Joe Gibbs Racing trio of Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Kenseth, plus Mark Martin in the Michael Waltrip number 55, took to drafting on the speedway in group for the first time. On their first lap as a group, the four car draft jumped to fastest.

One, and perhaps the primary, reason that the JGR team were the only cars to draft in a pack was to benefit driver Denny Hamlin. Hamlin and girlfriend Jordan are expecting a baby anytime now, so JGR planned for a one day test and wanted to ensure that Hamlin received time in the draft.

Most see that times during a test that has zero technical inspections… on a super speedway where a driver can “sniff” a distant car thus giving a false high speed on the chart. There are, however, plenty that will analyze every aspect of every lap possible. For those people, here are the speeds from Day 1 of NASCAR Preseason Thunder.

NASCAR Preseason Thunder – Day 1 – Practice Session 1 – Morning

NASCAR Preseason Thunder – Day 1 – Practice Session 2 – Afternoon

Michael Waltrip Will Drive Daytona 500 for Swan Racing

Michael-WaltripMichael Waltrip will team up with former crew chief Tony Eury Jr., and Swan Racing to compete in the 2013 Daytona 500. The one-race deal allows Waltrip another chance to compete in “The Great American Race” without detracting from the resources of his own Michael Waltrip Racing. The deal also allows Swan Racing an opportunity to gain knowledge and experience from working with a Daytona 500 winner in their Sprint Cup Series debut.

“I am thrilled to drive the No. 30 Toyota for Swan Racing and the chance to win a third Daytona 500,” said Waltrip about the one-race deal. “Reuniting with Tony Jr. and Steve Hmiel brings back a lot of good memories and is going to create new ones.”

“Swan Racing is here to compete and to build a championship contender,” said Swan Racing owner Brandon Davis. “This one-race partnership with Michael puts a two-time champion behind the wheel and the No. 30 in the mix at the Daytona 500.”

Crew chief Tony Eury Jr. looks to benefit from past experience of working with Waltrip.

“Michael is a familiar face for a lot of us here at Swan Racing,” said Eury. “We know each other’s habits, wants and needs on the track.  We’re going to Daytona to compete and hopefully we’ll make a mark for Swan Racing.”

For the remainder of the 2013 season, David Stremme is slated to drive the number 30 Swan Racing Toyota. For the Daytona 500, Stremme gladly steps aside to benefit the team.

“This is a great move for Swan Racing,” said Stremme. “Michael and I have been friends for a long time.  We got to talking last year and from my perspective I thought this would help to further our relationship with Toyota and be a good building block for Swan Racing.”

In the first day of testing in Daytona, Michael Waltrip kept is owner’s hat on, working with Michael Waltrip Racing and not Swan Racing.