As our video (above) shows, Penske’s Joey Logano and Austin Cindric – along with Cup rookie Harrison Burton for Wood Bros Racing – got a taste of multi-car drafting with their Ford Mustangs which are built to the new rules.
Logano told NASCAR’s livestream reporter: “It’s so much fun, it’s a new car and there is low-hanging fruit, easy wins to grab to make your car better now.
“With the old car, we had it for years, so making gains is kinda hard to come by, we had it figured out. Now, we don’t have anything figured out!
“It’s about the draft, getting the car more stable on the straightaway, taking pushes – those are probably the biggest things we need to work on. From what I saw, that’s the same throughout the field. All of us need to work on that.”
NBC sports analyst Steve Letarte also spoke about the challenge facing teams as they gear up to the new season with an all-new car.
“Talking to the teams, they’re doing different things,” said Letarte. “We see some cars by themselves, and you can learn a little bit by doing that, but in the end you’re going to go two, maybe three seconds faster in just a four- or five-car pack when the speed picks up.
“Driving by themselves is one thing, how they drive in a group is another. We saw some small packs but the true test is the big pack to find out what teams haven’t figured out, or more importantly, what questions you still have to answer.”
Letarte, a former Cup winning crew chief, visited his old driver Dale Earnhardt Jr to get his read on the new machinery around Daytona’s high banks, and reported: “I went and talked to Dale Jr, driving the #5 for Hendrick Motorsports, and they have a camera instead of a mirror – which he thinks is cheating! He said: ‘this is the best view I’ve ever had out of the back of my car!’
“What makes the Daytona 500 so special is not only that it’s the most prestigious race of the year, but it’s perhaps the most difficult track to prepare for, because nothing will prepare you for the last two laps, the last five miles, with everything on the line.”