Cumberland Times-News

Local Sports

February 6, 2013

Edwards gives new car thumbs-up after Darlington test

DARLINGTON, S.C. — Carl Edwards and several other Sprint Cup stars gave the new, faster Gen-6 race car a thumbs-up after a Goodyear tire test Tuesday at Darlington Raceway.

Edwards said the digital speedometer on his Ford Fusion hit 193 mph right before entering turn three, a typically unheard of speed at the ultra-tricky track.

"Each time down, you want to watch and see what you're doing," he said. "But the fastest point is the point where the track needs your attention and your eyes are not supposed to be on that monitor. I saw 193 or something, but I can't look at it any longer before I have to look into the corner."

Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Paul Menard and Juan Pablo Montoya were also at Darlington for the daylong session. NASCAR teams have previously tested the car at Daytona International Speedway and Charlotte Motorspeedway.

Edwards found the new machine to be faster and racers should expect better handling and tighter racing when the circuit returns to NASCAR's oldest superspeedway for the Southern 500 on May 11.

A few laps around the track "Too Tough To Tame" in the new car and Truex was confident someone would shatter Darlington's record qualifying speed of 181.254 mph set by Kasey Kahne at the 2011 race.

"We were faster in race trim than we qualified last year and I think we qualified sixth or something," Truex said.

Then again, Darlington may not be the place for higher speeds. The track has a reputation as one of the most fearsome layouts in NASCAR. Its misshapen corners — think of an egg's oval shape — and narrow straightaways make it treacherous with every pass.

The past two races here ended in melees with Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch tangling after the cooldown lap in 2011 and crews for Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman went at it at the end of the 2012 event.

Edwards said the newly designed car should only add to the excitement here and improve the product for fans. The car has shown more ability to grip the surface, meaning drivers can stick it into places not generally accessible expect to the most fearless pilots at Darlington.

"We can always have more exciting racing. The more those cars are sliding sideways and drivers are manhandling around the racetrack, the better off we are," Edwards said. "Hopefully, this car gets us to that place."

The Gen-6 car has been faster at each place it's been tested. What remains to be seen is how it'll perform with a full field ripping through the corners and jostling for the top.

"This thing's quite a bit different than what we're used to," Truex said. "There's going to a lot of things to learn for the teams and for the drivers so we're glad to get out there and get some laps."

Goodyear expects to use the information from this test to formulate the type of tire they'll bring back here in May. If history is any guide, the tire company should bring plenty of rubber. Darlington is known for its abrasive, tire-chewing surface that has shown itself more and more since a 2008 repavement.

"It's a two-lane highway with a speed limit of 190 mph," joked Brett Bodine, the former racer who works as NASCAR's competition director for research and development.

Edwards was happy for the lap time and has been pleased with the Gen-6 car's performance so far. He expects a lot of thrills when the season kicks off with the Daytona 500 later this month.

"It seems like NASCAR is putting as much effort as humanly possible in making the cars perform as we all want them to on the race track," Edwards said.

He is planning for additional chances when engineers from the teams and NASCAR see what the car does in competition. In the end, Edwards is confident any adjustments will improve things on the track, even one as difficult as Darlington.

"For me, this test is one I really looked forward to," he said. "I get to work with a new car, a new team, new tires at a track I love. The weather's nice. This is a great way to spend a Tuesday."

 

1
Text Only
Local Sports
  • Leydig lifts Casselman Valley over Moose, 6-5

    Lance Leydig scored on a bases loaded suicide squeeze attempt in the bottom of the eighth inning to give Casselman Valley the early advantage over the Moose by winning game one of the best-of-three series 6-5 Monday evening.

    July 22, 2014

  • Sports Calendar - 07/23/2014

    July 22, 2014

  • CEO: Rivers to quit Clippers if Sterling stays CEO: Rivers to quit Clippers if Sterling stays

    The interim CEO of the Los Angeles Clippers testified Tuesday that coach Doc Rivers told him he will quit if Donald Sterling remains the owner of the team.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rory McIlroy is poised to be golf’s next big thing Rory McIlroy is poised to be golf’s next big thing

    Golf has been looking for the next big star the last five years, and Rory McIlroy is the most obvious candidate.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pyrenees please Nibali, Rogers in Tour Stage 16 Pyrenees please Nibali, Rogers in Tour Stage 16

    The Pyrenees on Tuesday lived up to their reputation for causing ups and downs at the Tour de France: A French rider climbed in the standings, an American went down, and an Australian rebounding from an ordeal of doping suspicions won Stage 16 in a downhill breakaway.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sam excited about next phase of career Sam excited about next phase of career

    Now it starts to get intense for Michael Sam and the rest of the St. Louis Rams rookies.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lohr helps Cork’s Cars to 4-0 win

    Broc Lohr allowed one hit on the mound and had his team’s only hit at the plate as Cork’s Cars scrapped together four runs to shut out Madigan’s Auto Parts 4-0 on Monday at the Hot Stove Complex.

    July 22, 2014

  • Northside blanks Hite in opener

    Evan Rodeheaver tossed five innings of two-hit, shutout ball to allow the Northside Diamond Dogs to gain a 1-0 lead in its opening round playoff series by beating Hite Roofing 10-0 Monday at Northern High School.

    July 22, 2014

  • Titans sweep on shutouts

    Cody Ellsworth and Jacob Foreman both pitched complete-game shutouts to keep the Tri-State Titans undefeated in the Pen-Mar-WV League after sweeping the Cumberland Orioles Sunday afternoon at Bel Air Field.

    July 22, 2014

  • Sports Roundup - 07/22/2014

    July 21, 2014