|Kahne fastest in both Weds. test sessions (Getty)|
CONCORD, N.C. — Drivers left Charlotte Motor Speedway on Wednesday with as many questions as answers from the two-day Sprint Cup test at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
What they know is that the new 2013 car, in its current configuration, is fast.
The 2013 Sprint Cup car features new body styles, less weight, more rear camber, a bigger rear spoiler and new rear suspension rules that include the elimination of the rear sway bar.
The result is a car that had incredible grip and increased downforce at the 1.5-mile track.
Kasey Kahne posted a top speed of 193.771 mph, and he figures he could have run faster than 200 mph. The track qualifying record was set by Greg Biffle at 193.708 mph in October.
“I was happy with it,” Kahne said. “The track has a lot of grip because of the temperatures and the time of the year. So that has made for pretty fast laps.
“The car drives good, so it’s pretty easy to go fast right now and it’s like you’re qualifying each lap. … The back of the car is way more comfortable than it has ever been.
“I wish it was warmer out so we would have a direct comparison to the conditions we would race in.”
But whether the cars will run that fast when teams return to Charlotte in January for another test session remains to be seen. Goodyear still hasn’t selected the tire for the 2013 races at the track, and NASCAR has toyed with the idea of decreasing horsepower by 200 although no changes are expected for the start of 2013.
The test Tuesday and Wednesday attracted 16 teams, and about 10 of them participated in a 15-lap session Tuesday at normal horsepower and then a 15-lap session at reduced horsepower. The teams tested for about four hours Wednesday before the session ended two hours early because of rain.
“My initial thought when I jumped in the car with the horsepower was it was like a Nationwide car on steroids,” Penske Racing driver Joey Logano said. “And then when they took the horsepower away I said, ‘Oh, it’s like a Nationwide car.’
“It was kind of what I expected. Personally, I’m more for the horsepower. I think most drivers would probably say that.”
Kahne said he passed four or five cars in each session and it was much easier with more horsepower.
“More horsepower, in the corner, you’re able to maneuver your car a little more (and with) the throttle, you can put yourself in a better position to get a run on the car in front of you,” Kahne said.
“With less power, that car in front of you could defend more like some of our other series.”
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Charlotte Day 2 early test speeds:
2) Matt Kenseth 193.050
3) Kevin Harvick 192.458
4) Juan Pablo Montoya 192.020
5) Regan Smith 191.435 (driving No. 24)
Charlotte Day 2 afternoon test speeds (shortened due to rain):
1) Kasey Kahne 193.112
2) Matt Kenseth 191.993
3) Regan Smith 191.510
4) Austin Dillon 191.442
5) Kevin Harvick 190.981
|Matt Kenseth was second fastest in his new No. 20 JGR Toyota; kind of weird seeing him in new colors (Getty)|