With the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 on November 19 rapidly approaching, some of NASCAR's biggest stars got a taste of the championship race during a team testing session at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Wednesday and Thursday.
Teams and drivers took advantage of two full days of on-track activity, as they prepared for November's season finale. The eight teams who participated in the tests had the opportunity to gain valuable racing data while experimenting on the Speedway's 1.5-mile oval. Of the eight drivers who took part, five have advanced to the Round of 8 of the playoffs and are still in contention for the Monster Energy Series championship. Three more drivers participated in the two-day test on behalf of each of the manufacturers.
During the testing session, drivers were universal in their praise about Homestead-Miami Speedway's championship track.
"It's just a fun racetrack," said seven-time Monster Energy Series champion Jimmie Johnson. "The surface is worn and it really does promote great tire falloff, which we all like. There's multiple lanes of racing, and I think the progressive banking in the turns really gives us a lot of options."
"This is the only true mile-and-a-half track that there is in NASCAR and that difference is pretty neat," said Ryan Blaney, who is the driver of the #21 car for Wood Brothers Racing and is in his second full-time season in the Monster Energy Series. "You have two great straightaways. Then you have the corners where you try to run up against the wall. The wall is definitely the fastest place to be, but it's really hard to run it with success without hitting it. All of that makes it really fun."
Round of 8 contenders Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. were also on hand for the testing session on Wednesday and Thursday, both of who are looking to clinch a spot as part of the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway following the next three playoff races.
"It's always great to get down here where it's warm in November" said Truex, who competed in the 2015 Ford EcoBoost 400 as part of the Championship 4. "I always enjoy it here. I like spending some time after the race, winding down and doing some fishing in the Florida Keys. It's a great place to be especially during this time of the year."
"We come here once a year and that's what makes it so special to me," said Hamlin, who has won two Ford EcoBoost 400 races (2009, 2013). "When you pull in and see the palm trees lined-up down the backstretch you know that this is it. I couldn't think of a better place or a better racetrack to end the season. If you ask every driver what their favorite track is, this is always going to be one of them. The racing has always been phenomenal here and we just love coming to Miami. It's just a perfect place for us to end our season and crown a series champion."
--- NASCAR ---