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Thunder Testing at Daytona Update

Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR

As we get closer to the start of the NASCAR season, more news starts rolling in. This week we have news from our NASCAR reporter Blake Smith on this week’s testing at Daytona:

Thirty-Five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams have arrived in Daytona for Pre-Season Thunder Testing in Daytona. Teams will test at the 2.5 mile speedway through Saturday in preparation for the 55th Annual Great American Cup Series cars.

With the exception of the 3 Joe Gibbs cars and the #55 Toyota, most teams focused on single car runs during Thursday’s practice sessions. The 4 Toyotas mentioned above all made practice runs to practice in the draft. Hamlin was the fastest of the 4 car pack at 195.712 MPH. Hamlin was eager to get out and practice in the draft as he left only after one day of testing, to be home for the birth of his daughter.

It was announced that Owensboro’s Michael Waltrip will attempt the Daytona 500. Waltrip will be piloting the #30 Swan Racing Toyota. Waltrip will be reunited with some old friends as he joins crew chief Tony Eury Jr. and competition director Steve Hmiel. Waltrip previously worked with Eury and Hmiel at Dale Earnhardt Incorporated. David Stremme will race the rest of the schedule for the team.

Fans may remember last season’s Daytona 500 was postponed to Monday due to rain on the scheduled date of Sunday. Brian France announced that NASCAR has developed a new track drying system that will make the track drying up to 80% faster. France hopes to be able to dry Daytona International Speedway in 30 minutes rather than 2 hours. In the past, the tracks were dried with jet dryer technology.

KLN Family Brands announced a new partnership with NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr. KLN and Earnhardt formed Dale Jr. Foods which will launch 4 flavors of potato chips: Crispy Original, Carolina Barbeque, Creole and Green Onion and Zesty Jalapeno. The chips will be packaged in different sizes and available in grocery stores in February.

If you were listening to Tuesday night’s NASCAR Live on WBKR, you may have heard a familiar voice. The show took a bizarre turn when suspended driver and Owensboro native, Jeremy Mayfield called the show to confront NASCAR CEO, Brian France.  Mayfield , who said he was considering a plea deal this week over multiple felony charges, got his call put through to France and host Eli Gold, who welcomed him to the show. The following is a transcript from MRN Radio:

“I thought I would just call in and see how you guys were doing, Brian, Eli,” Mayfield said. “Haven’t been around much to talk to you guys lately, and just wanted to ask Brian if he’s willing to accept the fact I’d like to come back racing and if we could sit down and talk about it and figure out what we need to do to make that work.” “Well, Jeremy, you know the path back for you  it’s the path back for anybody,” [France] said. “I’ve always hoped you would choose the right path and not litigation and a bunch of other things, but that’s up to you and you have a welcome mat out anytime you want. There’s a stated process that AJ Allmendinger just went through and we welcomed him back, and it’s terrific. That’s up to you.”Mayfield quickly got off the air after France’s response. “OK, well, I appreciate that,” Mayfield said. “I didn’t mean to bother you on the show, but it’s the only way I could get ahold of you and I figured it would be a great opportunity to do that.” Mayfield was suspended from NASCAR competition in 2009 when he tested positive for methamphetamine.

Check back next week for a complete wrap up of Daytona testing and a preview of Charlotte testing next week.

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