The 2014 season officially kicks off this week when testing begins at Daytona on Thursday.
Daytona testing may not mean much in terms of on-track racing but it proves to be an important first step for new teams and new driver/crew chief pairings. This season, there are multiple changes in the garage that will benefit greatly from the on-track time and by Saturday, we could have a glimpse of who might be in favor of the pole position for the first race of the season.
For drivers like Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, and Martin Truex Jr., the on-track time is crucial for team chemistry and driver development. Moving to a new organization with new teammates and new guys on the wall can be a challenge to some but forging that bond early can prove to be a benefit later on.
Take Matt Kenseth for example, Moving from the No.17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford in 2012 to the No.20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in 2013 could have made for a mediocre year for the veteran driver. Instead, Kenseth and his new team forged a bond early in the 2013 season that led to one of the most impressive seasons Kenseth has ever had. Finishing runner-up in the Championship to now six-time Champion Jimmie Johnson, Kenseth and his team had nothing to hang their heads about.
A team’s bond is one of the most important keys to success and that bond, whether new or one that has been in place for years, starts at Daytona. Daytona is the first real chance for teams to knock off the rust and get back into the swing of racing.
Although teams never send their best cars to Daytona to test, the behind-the-scenes bonds formed over three days will prove to be priceless.
Preseason Thunder will be held at Daytona International Speedway Thursday, January 9th through Tuesday, January 14th.
Sprint Cup Series: Jan. 9 and Jan 10
Nationwide Series: Jan 11 and Jan 12
Camping World Truck Series: Jan 13 and Jan 14