Wednesday, January 11, 2012

2012 NASCAR Season Ready To Get Underway

The dust has officially settled on the 2012 NASCAR off-season as drivers, teams and media outlets make their way to Daytona Beach, Fla. for this weekend's preseason testing for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Hitting the track for an official test for the first time since the dramatic season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, teams will be testing new rides, new relationships and new rules.

Teams will be testing new rules put in place by NASCAR in the hopes of breaking up the two-car tandem drafting. NASCAR has implemented smaller radiators, a smaller overflow tank and a smaller spoiler, among other things.

Here is a look at the new rules package teams will be testing this weekend:
  • Smaller radiators (maximum of 2 gallon capacity)
  • Smaller overflow tank (maximum capacity of 1/2 gallon)
  • Radiator inlet is moved up closer into the front center bumper area
  • Rate reduction in the springs - softer springs
  • Smaller rear spoiler
  • Base line restrictor plate of 29/32 inch (1/64 inch larger than 2011 Daytona 500 plate)
Fans can follow along the action this weekend in Daytona by watching live coverage on SPEED, while will also provide free streaming access from 9 a.m. until Noon Thursday through Saturday.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will have a much different look in 2012, as a number of drivers, crew chiefs, spotters and sponsors have moved around during the short off-season. The changes came early and often this off-season, making it tough to keep track of all that was going on.

So, here is a brief run down of the changes for the 2012 season:

  • Car: No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/McDonald's/Belkin/Liftmaster/Banana Boat Chevrolet (New sponsors)
    Driver: Jamie McMurray
    Crew Chief: Kevin "Bono" Manion
    Team Manager: Max Jones (Previously held by Tony Glover)

  • Car: No. 5 Farmers Insurance/Quaker State Chevrolet
    Driver: Kasey Kahne (Moved from Red Bull Racing)
    Crew Chief: Kenny Francis (Moved from Red Bull Racing)

  • Car: No. 10 Chevrolet
    Driver: Danica Patrick
    Crew Chief: Greg Zipadelli
    Note: Patrick and the No. 10 team will run 10 races for Stewart-Haas Racing, including the Daytona 500, Darlington and the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway

  • Car: No. 11 FedEx Toyota (Will use Toyota Racing Development for engines)
    Driver: Denny Hamlin
    Crew Chief: Darian Grubb (Moved from Stewart-Haas Racing)
    Spotter: Chris Lambert (Moved from Red Bull Racing No. 83 team)

  • Car: No. 13 GEICO Ford (was Toyota)
    Driver: Casey Mears
    Crew Chief: Bootie Barker

  • Car: No. 14 Office Depot/Mobile 1 Chevrolet
    Driver: Tony Stewart
    Crew Chief: Steve Addington (Moved from Penske Racing)
    Director of Competition: Greg Zipadelli (Moved from Joe Gibbs Racing, will also serve as crew chief to Danica Patrick)

  • Car: No. 15 5-Hour Energy Toyota
    Driver: Clint Boywer (moved from Richard Childress Racing)
    Crew Chief: Brian Pattie (Former crew chief at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing)
    Spotter: Ty Norris

  • Car: No. 17 Best Buy/Valvoline Ford (Best Buy moved from Richard Petty Motorsports)
    Driver: Matt Kenseth
    Crew Chief: Jimmy Fennig

  • Car: No. 18 M&M's/Combos/Snickers/Pedigree/Doublemint/Interstate Batteries Toyota
    Driver: Kyle Busch
    Crew Chief: Dave Rogers
    Spotter: Todd Hirscham (Moved from Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 team)

  • Car: No. 20 Home Depot/Dollar General (Dollar General new to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2012)
    Driver: Joey Logano
    Crew Chief: Jason Ratcliff (Moved up from Nationwide Series with JGR)
    Spotter: Rocky Ryan (Moved from Roush Fenway Racing No. 6 team)

  • Car: No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge
    Driver: AJ Allmendinger (Moved from Richard Petty Motorsports)
    Crew Chief: Todd Gordon (Moved up from Nationwide Series with Penske Racing)

  • Car: No. 24 AARP Drive to End Hunger/DuPont Chevrolet
    Driver: Jeff Gordon
    Crew Chief: Alan Gustafson
    Spotter: Eddie D'Hondt (Moved from Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 team)

  • Car: No. 29 Budweiser/Jimmy John's/Rheem Chevrolet
    Driver: Kevin Harvick
    Crew Chief: Shane Wilson (Previously crew chief for Clint Bowyer's No. 33 team at RCR)

  • Car: No. 31 Caterpillar/Wheaties/General Mills/BB&T Chevrolet (Wheaties/General Mills/BB&T moved from now defunct No. 33 team)
    Driver: Jeff Burton
    Crew Chief: Drew Blickensderfer (Moved from Roush Fenway Racing)

  • Car: No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford
    Driver: David Ragan (Moved from Roush Fenway Racing)
    Crew Chief: Jay Guy

  • Car: No. 35 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet
    Driver: David Reutimann (Reutimann moved from Michael Waltrip Racing, will run partial schedule)
    Crew Chief: Tommy Baldwin Jr.

  • Car: No. 38 ModSpace/Taco Bell/Long John Silver's Ford
    Driver: David Gilliland
    Crew Chief: Derrick Finley (Interim crew chief/Competition director)

  • Car: No. 39 U.S. Army/Tornados/Quicken Loans (new)/Outback Steakhouse (new)
    Driver: Ryan Newman
    Crew Chief: Tony Gibson

  • Car: No. 42 Target Chevrolet
    Driver: Juan Pablo Montoya
    Crew Chief: Chris Heroy (Moved from Hendrick Motorsports, where he was an engineer)
    Team Manager: Max Jones

  • Car: No. 43 Smithfield Ford
    Driver: Aric Almirola (Moved from JR Motorsports Nationwide Series team)
    Crew Chief: Greg Erwin (Starting his first full year with the team)
    Spotter: Tyler Green (Moved from JR Motorsports No. 88 team as Almirola's spotter)

  • Car: No. 51 TAG Heuer Eyeware (Budweiser Shootout sponsor) Chevrolet
    Driver: Kurt Busch (Moved from Penske Racing)
    Crew Chief: Nick Harrison
    Spotter: Steve Barkdoll (team general manager)

  • Car: No. 55 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota (Changed from No. 00)
    Driver: Mark Martin/Michael Waltrip (Martin moved from Hendrick Motorsports)
    Crew Chief: Rodney Childers

  • Car: No. 99 Fastenal/Best Buy/UPS/Aflac/Scotts/Subway/Kellogg's Frosted Flakes/Cheez-It Ford
    Driver: Carl Edwards
    Crew Chief: Bob Osborne

This massive upheaval during the off-season cost many in the sport their jobs, including a handful of race-winning drivers. Brian Vickers and David Ragan are still without a ride as the season opening events near, while Landon Cassill is also on the market after Phoenix Racing announced the addition of Kurt Busch.

In addition, Travis Kvapil, David Gilliland and J.J. Yeley also have uncertain futures, as Front Row Motorsports has yet to officially announce their driver lineup for the 2012 season.

Check back throughout the week to follow the action from Daytona.

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