Cars were on track at Atlanta Motor Speedway today, just one day after the Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500. With five race teams' participation, NASCAR tested the Car of Tomorrow in a day-long test session.
Yesterday's race winner Carl Edwards was among the drivers testing. Joining him were Jeff Burton, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Petty and Brian Vickers, all testing cars from their own teams and Brett Bodine driving NASCAR's representative car.
"Safety tops the list of things that are different about this car," Gary Nelson, vice president of research and development for NASCAR said. "We have done a lot of things in the last four years to improve safety that are car of tomorrow items, but we put them on the car of today if they would fit. You can't just fit a bigger roll-cage, a different frame or different exhaust. The average race fan is going to see a taller, wider car that has been designed to enhance competition on the track."
Drivers said they could tell a difference between the cars they drove yesterday and the Car of Tomorrow they drove today.
"These drive a lot more like my Busch car," said 2004 Busch Series Champion Martin Truex Jr. "They have a lot more air on the back of them. They are real stable getting into the corner compared to a Cup car."
Truex addressed NASCAR's emphasis on safety.
"You're always happy when they try and make things safer," said Truex. "It doesn't feel good when you hit the wall. They have done a good job with safety over the last two years. I haven't really seen anybody get hurt in the last couple years, so they've come a long way."
Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet doesn't think the racing will change a lot from the fans perspective.
"As far as racing goes, we are all going to have the same thing, everybody is still going to try and find advantages like they do now, so I don't see if being much different."