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Drivers get a rush from new race car


March 16. 2013 10:06PM
The Associated Press

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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 except 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.




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