NASCAR decided to allow an open testing session on Tuesday, December 11 and today, Wednesday December 12 at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Sprint Cup Series and the new Sixth Generation Car. It was an opportunity that some drivers and teams took while others like Roush-Fenway Racing and driver Carl Edwards did not. Motorsports 101 debates whether Carl Edwards should have been at the test.
After a Bad 2012 Season the Answer is Yes – By Clayton Caldwell
Carl Edwards not showing up to the test was really surprising. I understand that Roush-Fenway Racing makes the chassis and engines on both Richard Petty Motorsports and the Wood Brothers Racing team, but that doesn’t mean Edwards and company should skip out on the test just because they don’t feel like going.
We know Roush-Fenway Racing has the money to go to the test. Their race shop is the closest geographically to Charlotte Motor Speedway, so traveling isn’t an issue. It’s even a bigger deal because we have a new racecar. Again, I understand that Roush shares info with two teams at the test, but how can we be sure if those teams discover something, they are going to be 100% truthful with Roush. It’s a new car and it makes no sense to let your opponents get an upper hand.
Edwards will also have a new crew chief and team next season. Matt Kenseth’s #17 team from 2012 will move over to Edwards’ #99 team for 2013, including crew chief Jimmy Fennig. Time with the new team and new crew chief is precious and yet Edwards and company skipped out on the test. With the year Edwards had last year, I started wondering if Edwards’ focus was 100% where it needed to be throughout the 2012 season. You would think the team and the driver would make sure their 2013 season would be better and make sure they do everything possible to compete for a championship and win races. To me, by not showing up to this test, it is not doing everything possible to compete in 2013.
Then comes the fact that you are now sharing engines with Penske Racing, a team that won the Championship last season. That means you can no longer beat Penske by just having more horsepower or outrunning them. You’re going to have to handle better and use better pit strategy to beat those guys on a weekly basis. Can Edwards do that? With a new crew chief it may take him awhile to do it.
NASCAR has let these teams test and if you have a new crew chief and new team I would think you should take as much time as needed to work out the kinks and get ready for a strong 2013 season. For whatever reason, Carl Edwards and the 99 team didn’t do that. We’ll see if it will cost them.
New Car Shakedown Should Have Been a Priority – By Mark Eddinger
Sixteen different drivers and 10 race organizations took to the track on Tuesday to test the new Sixth Generation Car at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The teams included Hendrick Motorsports (3 cars), Richard Childress Racing (3 cars), Penske Racing (2 cars), Joe Gibbs Racing (2 cars), Stewart-Hass Racing (1 car), Richard Petty Motorsports (1 car), Germain Racing (1 car), Earnhardt Ganassi Racing (1 car), JTG/Daugherty Racing (1 car), and Wood Brothers Racing (1 car).
So where was Roush-Fenway Racing? Carl Edwards finished 15th in the final points and was a non-factor in almost every race in 2012. Greg Biffle and rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr. also were not at the new car test. The 2013 season will be a very important one for Roush-Fenway Racing as a whole and especially Carl Edwards so it is surprising that they didn’t send even one car to the test.
NASCAR made the test session an open session that will not count against the testing limitations that will be in affect during the season. During those tests race organizations can only send one car to a test at a track. But for this first test session for the new car NASCAR allowed race organizations to send as many cars as they liked. Since Edwards is coming off a terrible season and will be working with new crew chief Jimmy Fennig it would have made sense for them to get the seat time in the new car.
With that said Edwards was not the only big name driver that did not come to the test. Kyle Busch, who also missed the Chase like Edwards in 2012, was not at the test. Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer, Tony Stewart, and Martin Truex Jr. were also not present. Also Roush-Fenway Racing was not the only organization to not send any cars. Joining them was Michael Waltrip Racing, Furniture Row Racing, BK Racing, and Front Row Motorsports.
It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense that any driver or team would want to skip out on any testing session that is available to them with the Sixth Generation Car. But there is a session at Daytona International Speedway on January 10-12 and a second test at Charlotte Motor Speedway on January 17 and 18. Maybe the teams thought there wasn’t a lot to be learned at this first test. Expect more drivers and teams to get their feet wet with the new car at those tests.
Check out other great articles at Sports Media 101.