NASCAR & Auto Racing

Cup test indicates Talladega potential

Nextel Cup teams opened a two-day test in the car of tomorrow at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway on Monday to prepare for the first restrictor-plate race using the car.

"It should be way wilder than anything we've ever seen here," driver Denny Hamlin said of the UAW-Ford 500 on Oct. 7 at the 2.66-mile track.

Hamlin said he thinks the Cup race will look a lot like NASCAR Truck Series races have at Daytona Beach, Fla., and Talladega.

"The way the cars are set up and the big hole they punch in the air, I think it's going to be like Truck races where they talk about how big the closing rate is. I think these cars are going to punch such a big hole in the air that we're really going to be stuck together like glue."

Teams made single-car runs until mid-afternoon, then began drafting with each other. Johnny Sauter's lap at 196.165 mph topped the chart during the drafting session, with Martin Truex Jr. running 195.964 mph and 16 others -- including Jacque Villeneuve in his first laps at Talladega -- topping 194 mph.

Nextel Cup cars are using 1-inch holes in their carburetor restrictor plates for this test. Teams used seven-eighths-inch plates for the spring race at Talladega. NASCAR said it could wait to make a final determination on plate size until the end of the practices on Oct. 5.

Jimmie Johnson said he thinks the car of tomorrow could make for rougher racing at Talladega.

"These cars line up better and you can get away with a lot more pushing and shoving," he said. "The cars have a lot of downforce and they're real comfortable to drive, so I think the potential is there for more rough driving than in the past."

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