The NASCAR Nationwide Series season has unofficially begun and the tandem racing will likely return in some way, shape or form during the Drive For COPD 300. Both practices were held on Thursday in preparation for NASCAR’s second tier series’ debut event for 2013.
It’s looking more and more like the Nationwide Series won’t have any pack racing such as they had in the past this time around. Rule changes may be made during the course of the season, but in the mean time, it’s sticking around. Saturday’s event will likely have large packs in it for the duration of the race, but the winner will likely be pushed in a tandem.
Drivers which were running in the tandem averaged roughly 189-191 mph while the ones practicing for qualifying ran a few seconds off that with laps of 170-180 mph. The pole speed will probably be around 182 mph and should be from one of the top organizations. Each of the three manufacturers were strong throughout the two practices.
Sam Hornish Jr. and Brad Keselowski tandemed up to lead the first practice with the debut of the Penske Racing Ford’s. Then there was the Richard Childress Racing teammates of Brian Scott and Austin Dillon followed by Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Elliott Sadler and Brian Vickers. The diversity of manufacturers is exactly what NASCAR was looking for especially in the Nationwide Series which has been dominated by the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota’s over the past few years and will likely continue to do so with the addition of Sadler and Vickers who are predicted to be the top contenders for the championship.
Chevrolet’s dominated the second practice as JR Motorsports drivers Kasey Kahne and Regan Smith led the way with the same exact time of 46. 892 seconds. Eight of the top-10 drivers were with organizations powered by Chevrolet’s. Turner Motorsports has stepped up dramatically with their Nationwide Series program this year as they entered Daytona with four teams, each of which were in the top-10 during the second practice.
The Drive For COPD 300 should be exciting as fans don’t know what to expect, but whatever it is, it should be entertaining as always.
Joseph Wolkin can be followed on Twitter at @JosephNASCAR.