The four drivers participating this week in Goodyear’s tire test at Charlotte Motor Speedwaycouldn’t be much more different. They drive for different teams and different manufacturers. They have different driving styles and different personalities on and off the track. But one thing Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Sam Hornish and Paul Menard all have in common is a strong desire to get a points race win at the legendary Charlotte Motor Speedway.
With new rules limiting testing opportunities, all four drivers know that every practice lap is a chance to get a leg up on the competition before the 10 Greatest Days in Racing in May.
Edwards, who will drive for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2015, said that while it’s hard to get good data for May’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and Coca-Cola 600, the test is a good chance for his new team to get some practice under their belts.
“Conditions are really cool. There’s not a lot of rubber on the racetrack. We’re basically in the lower downforce 2016 trim,” Edwards said of the conditions and setup for this week’s test. “The biggest thing this test is helping me out with is to get used to this car, the new seat, (crew chief) Darian (Grubb) and the guys and how they do things here. It’s been very good for me from that perspective.”
Earnhardt said the test is a good chance to establish a winning chemistry with his new crew chief, Greg Ives, but also to keep his driving acumen sharp during the off season.
“We’re definitely going to take advantage of every little bit of track time we can get because the testing rules are a little tighter this year,” Earnhardt said. “It’s good for me and Greg to get to work together – to get a little rapport going – so when we take off and go to Atlanta, Vegas and Phoenix, we’re communicating really well.
“When I go back to the track for the first time after a long layoff, I feel like I have a little rust to kick off. It’s good to get out and exercise your legs a little bit.”
While both Earnhardt (2000) and Edwards (2011) have scored NASCAR Sprint All-Star wins at the historic 1.5-mile superspeedway, neither has visited Winner’s Circle after a points race at Charlotte. In 16 career starts, Menard’s best points finish is eighth, while Hornish has a career-best 13th place finish in seven starts.
Fans will have to wait and see if the work at this week’s test pays off with a win in May.
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