Posted By Pete Pistone
CONCORD, N.C. - The biggest news to come from the final day of Preseason Thunder testing at Daytona was speed. The lap times have steadily been creeping up as the three day session wore on and on Saturday Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch hooked up in a two car draft to tickle the 198 mph mark.
Whether or not that's enough to make NASCAR officials hand out smaller restrictor plates when teams return for "Speedweeks" next month remains to be seen but it appears the sanctioning body is still comfortable with the speeds.
Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Burton, David Reutimann and Clint Bowyer were among the names who skipped out of Saturday's final day of testing. Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman - who hooked up in a two-car draft to top 197 mph - left after the morning session.
The biggest news to come out of Saturday's time at "The World Center of Racing" was the possibility NASCAR may set qualifying for the coming season based on practice times. Rather than draw randomly for position as has been the policy in the past, the final practice before time trials would set the order for the qualifying round. It's a practice that the Camping World Truck Series employed last year and may at least give a little boost of interest to Cup qualifying if put into play in 2011.
All teams will head out of Daytona tonight and head back to the Charlotte hub, where I have set up shop for the next few days. Tonight the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) will honor Waddell Wilson, Dale Jarrett and former Charlotte Observer NASCAR reporter Tom Higgins. Tomorrow is a full day of meetings and an awards dinner Sunday night before the 2011 NASCAR Preseason Media Tour kicks off on Monday.