- Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 January 2009 16:11
- Published on Wednesday, 14 January 2009 16:11
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With NASCAR’s mandate to eliminate testing at NASCAR sanctioned tracks for the 2009 season, last week's Goodyear tire test at Texas Motor Speedway marked the first opportunity for any of the teams to log some track time.
Two-time Texas Motor Speedway winner Jeff Burton, 2004 Sprint Cup Series Champion Kurt Busch, Yates Racing’s Travis Kvapil, and David Reutimann from Michael Waltip Racing participated. The lineup gave Goodyear a representative from each vehicle manufacturer in the Cup series.
While Goodyear was gathering data on the tire it plans to use this season at Texas, the four drivers were not only assisting the tire manufacturer but also collecting data that could be valuable to their team’s fortunes for the Samsung 500, set for Sunday April 5th.
“I had to tap my computer screen a few times because I could not believe it was 72 degrees here today, and that was perfect because it emulates the temperature we will probably see here in April,” Busch said. “Testing days are limited and with us being able to get on a track that we race on with the potential tire that we will use in April makes it a vital day. Track time is one of the things you put on the top of your list. These days are few and far between, and we are very happy to be here.”
For Reutimann, he has been limited to testing his dirt track car. “The opportunity to get back to the track and prepare for the upcoming season was long overdue,” he said. “It seems like a long time since I’ve been in a car. It’s good to get back.”
The new testing policy provides an opportunity for smaller teams like Yates Racing to gain ground on the competition. Kvapil said the new testing procedures will help close the gap between the smaller and larger teams. “In years past, the larger teams continued to spend money on testing, but the new rules will help level the playing field. Our group is pretty pleased with the new rule,” Kvapik said. “The other teams that did all the testing last year are not going to get those big steps ahead of us.”
Kvapil said the information from this past week's test session will go a long way in improving the team. “It’s very important to take home all the information we can,” Kvapil said. “It gives us a chance to try a few things, try a few ideas. To come to a place like Texas where it’s fast and you really have to be up on the wheel is exciting.”
Shocked by the large number of empty seats on race day last season, and conscious of the bleak economic forecast for the coming racing season, many of the tracks have announced substantial price decreases for some sections of their grandstands for the 2009 season.
For the first time in memory even Bristol Motor Speedway, the toughest ticket in NASCAR, has tickets available for their Cup races this season. With the new low price policy you can buy tickets for the upcoming Daytona 500 for as little as $55. It’s their lowest ticket price since 1995.
Daytona International Speedway president Robin Braig made the announcement saying, “A limited number of tickets to select areas on the famed Superstretch for the 51st annual Daytona 500 will be rolled back from $95 to $55. The roll back of ticket prices in select areas for the Daytona 500 is a significant and important step for race fans,” Braig said. “These are challenging times for everyone and we hope that these adjustments in ticket prices will make it more affordable for race fans to witness the excitement and pageantry of the Daytona 500 in person.”
Locally, Richmond International Raceway announced a ticket restructuring for the Henrico Grandstand for the 2009 season. More than 18,000 Sprint Cup Series tickets will be affected in the restructuring.
Tickets currently on sale for the May 2nd Crown Royal Sprint Cup Race and for the foreseeable future will be affected. Rows 1-5 of the Henrico Grandstand are now just $40, and rows 6-15 are now $55. This represents 50% and 25% decease respectively. from the May 2008 price.
“We have the best, most loyal fans in sports,” said RIR president Doug Fritz. “We recognize that times are tough and we want to offer our fans a lower entry point to be able to continue to enjoy the thrill of live NASCAR Racing.”