As NASCAR officials continue to try to produce a more exciting product on the race track with the Generation-6 race car that recently completed its first season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the test was used to gather information that will help to that end. Unlike an earlier test at CMS in which only six cars were on the track at a time, a total of 16 teams and 30 cars participated in a series of runs designed to simulate a real race during Wednesday's test.
That was vital, according to Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition and racing development.
"One of the things we learned and the reason we're back here with so many cars is that it is different when you have 25 of 30 cars out there versus the six," Pemberton said. "So it was important for us to come back here with the number of cars that we did. It's giving us a different view on some of the answers. It's pointed us in some different directions."
Gene Stefanyshyn, NASCAR's vice president of innovation and racing development, said that the goals for such tests are straightforward and simple. But he added that they aren't typically reached overnight.
"Really what we're attempting to do here is to get closer competition and more passing, the cars running closer in the pack, passing more with an eye for the fans," Stefanyshyn said. "That's basically what we're doing.
"We're using different metrics to look at that, like the firstto- fifth (place) time differentials, the time differentials between the 10 fastest laps, those types of things. Those are the types of metrics that we're looking at."
Among the four different test car configurations on which data was accumulated and will be sorted through over the coming hours and days were:
Stefanyshyn admitted that the amount of information gathered during such a test can be enormous. And even after sifting through it, it's unlikely that everyone will agree on which directions NASCAR should decide to go with upcoming rules changes, he added.
"It's not a perfect science," Stefanyshyn said. "But we try to take all these inputs and utilize them in the triangulations to find the right answer. You will never get 100 percent agreement on everything. So really you're kind of looking for the 70 percent answer here that kind of leads you in the right direction."
Pemberton said that he expects the 2014 rules package for NASCAR Sprint Cup to be signed off by the beginning of next week. Meanwhile, Stefanyshyn said he could not stress enough how getting 30 cars on the track for a test session like Tuesday's trumps everything else that NASCAR or individual teams can discover on their own in smaller test sessions or computer simulations or even wind-tunnel testing.
"When it's all said and done, there is no wind tunnel where you can put 30 cars in, or (a computer model) where you can do that," he said. "We do all that to get our best hypothesis or answer. But then really what it comes down to is 30 cars running around the track and seeing how it all works and measuring that. That's kind of the nature of the work."
Iowa Speedway welcomes new track president
It’s the beginning of a new era for Iowa Speedway, and they now have the person in place to lead the way – Jimmy Small.
When NASCAR announced that it had purchased the speedway just outside Newton, one of the big questions was who would be tapped as the new president. That question was answered on Thursday, Dec. 12, at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, when Small was appointed in an event that was attended by several of the sport’s top executives along with state and local dignitaries.
"NASCAR and the state of Iowa share great histories and traditions in racing," Small, 28, said. "That has been truly evident with the support we’ve seen at Iowa Speedway since its inception. We wholeheartedly accept the responsibility to put on a fun and entertaining product that will make fans happy and make sure they keep coming back."
Small, a native of suburban Detroit, spent the last six years working for the sanctioning body in various capacities, most recently as senior manager for team marketing services within the NASCAR Industry Services department. He served as the business and marketing liaison with teams and drivers in all three national series.
Before that, he coordinated NASCAR event weekends with tracks, television partners and teams.
In addition, he played an integral role in implementing the NASCAR Industry Action Plan, where he worked on several key initiatives in the areas of Event Management and Entertainment, Youth and Gen-Y Marketing and Driver Star Power.
He brings a wealth of experience in identifying and creating fan-experience improvements and defining best practices that are designed to help strengthen sponsor relations and ticket sales. Small will be called upon to do all of this as well as help establish the speedway as a premier entertainment venue in Iowa.
"I’ve had the distinct pleasure of working with the staff members here at Iowa Speedway in various capacities over the past six years – more intensely over the last three months," Small said. "I can’t say enough about the individuals at Iowa Speedway. They are tough; they are hard-working; they’re intelligent; they care. That’s what’s most important here; they care. The bond they share is truly remarkable. It’s a bond I truly hope to join and ultimately strengthen.
"As a team, I am confident that we will achieve success here in the state of Iowa."
Small, who recently relocated to Iowa from Charlotte, N.C., is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame where he earned a degree in economics. He was named as a member of Sports Pro Magazine’s The 10 NEXT Class of 2012, an honor recognizing 10 sports executives under the age of 30.
The 2014 slate of NASCAR race weekends at Iowa Speedway has already been set and does not include a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. This will not change, and the possibility of the Speedway being added to the premier series’ schedule in 2015 is slim as Small and his staff focus on providing the best at-track experience and putting on the best show for fans of NASCAR’s other national series – the NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Iowa Speedway’s season opens Saturday, May 17 with the first of two NASCAR K&N Pro Series East versus West Challenges. The following day, Sunday, May 18, the track hosts a 250-lap NASCAR Nationwide Series event. Two months later, on July 11-12, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series arrives in town with the IndyCar Series. The truck series will hit the track first Friday night, followed by the open-wheel event Saturday. The second NASCAR K&N Pro Series East versus West Challenge hits the 0.875- mile paved track on Friday, Aug. 1, followed by a second 250-lap NASCAR Nationwide event the following evening.