It’s difficult to take what happens in a 3-day test session at a super-speedway track and determine how a full 36-race season is going to go based on what you learned in that short period.
What went down over those 72 hours may be completely irrelevant. There’s a chance that what little we saw there(those of us who watch the streaming coverage on Speedtv.com) will have no impact on the season.
However, we did see some things over those three days that are worth noting. And those things may be able to give us a little preview as to how the 2011 season is going to go.
If nothing else, we at least have some notes to keep an eye on for Speedweeks, and pre-season speculation is always fun.
So without further adeu, here are 5 things we learned from the Daytona test session:
1. Come February 20th, remember these words: Penske Racing. Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch spanked everybody in the final session of the test, running laps at an average speed of over 198.5 mph. Think that’s impressive? Brad and Kurt each ran over 100 laps apiece on the third day alone. They soaked up a load of information, and if they can keep up the good teamwork, Daytona may not be the only place where the words “Penske Racing” and “fast” are mentioned in the same sentence.
2. Brian Vickers and Kasey Kahne will get along famously. In Kahne’s lone year at Team Red Bull, he will likely get along better with his teammate than he did in any of his previous 7 years at RPM. Vickers said in a press conference during the test, “I don’t see how we’re not going to get along as teammates.” He said later, “We got along as enemies, so I don’t think we’ll have a problem getting along as brothers.” The teamwork between the two drivers was obvious during the test, as the duo teamed up in the draft in all but 2 of the weekend’s 5 sessions.
3. Speaking of Vickers, he won’t have a problem rebounding from his blood clots. Brian Vickers is going to come out guns blazing in 2011. He showed during the test that he isn’t afraid to mix it up a little bit, and he told Foxsports.com’s Rea White that his first question to doctors when he was hospitalized wasn’t, “Am I going to live?”, but rather, “Will I be able to race again?” Now that he’s back behind the wheel, Vickers isn’t going to back down for anything. And let’s remember that the last time Vickers raced a full season, he made the Chase. It could happen again in 2011.
4. He may be old, racing a part-time schedule, and racing in underfunded equipment. But Bill Elliott plans on being competitive. Elliott showed up to the test with a newly-announced schedule for 2011; he will race the #09 for Phoenix Racing in 18 races this season. Awesome Bill showed some speed in the single-car runs(he never made a run in the draft), and told Bob Dilner after testing concluded that he felt like the team was going to be very competitive in the events they had planned. Phoenix Racing plans on running a full season, but does not have their driver lineup set up yet. Will they be competitive enough for Elliott to decide to go full-time again? We shall see.
5. Jamie McMurray is fast. Very fast. J-Mac showed more speed than anybody else in single-car runs during the test, which doesn’t bold well for the rest of the competition seeing as he’s the defending Daytona 500 winner. McMurray’s main goal following his Cinderella season is to make the Chase. If the Daytona test is any indication, he’ll have no problem reaching that goal. And if he can find some consistency, as well as Victory Lane in races other than the big ones, McMurray could be a serious threat to not only make the Chase in 2011, but contend for the title as well.