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Drivers eager to take Gen-6 car for a real spin

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 8, 2013 at 8:05 pm •  Published: March 8, 2013

The new cars are lighter and more aero-sensitive, but they're definitely fast, too: After Patrick and Mark Martin barely missed the track speed records in qualifying for NASCAR's first two races of the season, many drivers said they expected a Vegas record to fall Friday before the session was scrapped by rain. They barely missed the record during Thursday's open test, a valuable resource for teams tweaking their cars for the season ahead.

"It's a new car, there's a lot of things to learn, and that's what everybody in the garage is trying to do, is trying to get an advantage on the rest of the competitors out there," Earnhardt said. "We had a good opportunity yesterday. ... I was kind of glad to see it rain today, because I practiced enough. I was ready to race."

Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition, is urging drivers and fans to show a little patience while the teams figure out the cars. He expects teams to use the Easter break to evaluate data from the first few races, but describes the adjustment process as "a long-term deal here, years and years and years for this car."

Pemberton defended NASCAR's decision to fine Hamlin, who furiously stood up to the governing body by vowing to appeal and refusing to pay the fine. His team, Joe Gibbs Racing, issued a statement Friday saying it "will fully support Denny in his appeal process."

The garage had mixed feelings over Hamlin's stand. While Jeff Burton and other drivers suggested NASCAR had overreacted in fining Hamlin, Keselowski and a few other drivers were more circumspect.

"It's been an interesting story for somebody to challenge that authority," Jeff Gordon said. "That's fine, but at the end of the day, I know whose sandbox I'm playing in. I like the sandbox. I like to play in it, and I want to have the best opportunity to have the most fun in that sandbox. Sometimes while you don't always like it, you have to bite your tongue and just go out there and race."