Fans are getting antsy for the season opener.
MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL
MILWAUKEE -- The real opener is more than a month away but unofficially, at least, the NASCAR season begins this week with the first round of testing for the 47th Daytona 500.
Tuesday through Thursday are reserved for teams that finished in odd positions in the 2004 Nextel Cup owners' standings, so champion Kurt Busch, four-time champion Jeff Gordon and defending 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. are among the competitors scheduled to get back on track in Daytona Beach, Fla.
The session for the remaining Cup teams is set for Jan. 18-20. Testing for Craftsman Truck Series competitors is scheduled for Saturday-Monday and for Busch Series teams from Jan. 22-24.
For the top teams, of course, much of the hardest work for Daytona has already been done.
Superspeedway racing is so dependent upon aerodynamics that the most learning is accomplished in the wind tunnel. So Busch's team, for example, has a good idea already of what shock absorbers and springs will be on his car for the race. They'll try a few different combinations, do some fuel-mileage runs and let their driver play in traffic.
The other oddity about Daytona testing is that although it garners all the attention, it really doesn't tell people much about the season. New aerodynamic specifications are coming after the 500 -- most noticeably shorter rear spoilers -- so teams that expect to contend for the championship will have considerable work awaiting them on intermediate and short tracks.
But, hey, it has been almost two months, and the fans are getting antsy for some action.