NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams will assemble on Tuesday, March 16 for an important early season test at Talladega Superspeedway. Approximately 24 teams are expected to participate in the one-day session, which will target a number of mechanical options in advance of the Aaron's 499 at the track on Sunday, April 25.
NASCAR officials will analyze the data gleaned – along with teams' input – and later make several key decisions for the race. Teams also will test spoilers, which are slated to replace the current wings on the backs of cars. No timetable has been set for the wing-to-spoiler move.
"It's a confirmation test for restrictor plates and gearing, and an opportunity for teams to work on their handling packages as we transition to the spoiler," said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition.
Rule changes, announced on Jan. 21, are the impetus behind the test. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams used larger carburetor restrictor-plate openings in the 2010 Daytona 500 and larger plate openings are expected for the Aaron's 499 at Talladega.
At 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway, NASCAR mandated openings of 63/64-inch – the largest since the one-inch mandate in 1988, the first year the horsepower-reducing plates were used in NASCAR Sprint Cup competition at Daytona. Each plate contains four openings, which restrict air flow to the engine, thus slowing stock cars. Larger openings mean more air, and more horsepower.
The wing replaced the traditional stock-car spoiler on NASCAR's new car, now in its third full-time season. Returning to the spoiler means on-track testing, and another series test – Tuesday, March 23 and Wednesday, March 24 at Charlotte Motor Speedway – will be devoted solely to spoiler work.
Both the Charlotte and Talladega tests are exceptions to the current testing policy. Normally, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series teams may not test at facilities that host series events. This year, teams may test at tracks that host regional touring series events, but not national series events.
Next Tuesday's Talladega session begins at 9 a.m. and runs until 5 p.m. local time. Fans are welcome to attend, with free admission.