Monday, January 14, 2008

Sand Bagging? Bet on it.

It was hard not to notice that in Monday's practice session, the 31 of Jeff Burton and the 29 of Kevin Harvick were consistently near the bottom of the speed charts. Did Kevin or Jeff seem upset by the results? Nope.

Richard Childress has somewhat of a tradition of not showing his full hand during testing. Dale Earnhardt sometimes seemed to just be riding laps when he was testing. I think he was. He made a few charges, at various corners or maybe on a backstretch or two, but usually lifted a little and coasted a while.

It's called sand bagging. It's not letting the competition know what you've got. Last year, Kevin Harvick did not exactly tear up the track during testing, but yet he won the Daytona 500. Kevin really didn't have the fastest car last year either, but he was in the lead when it counted.

Testing is not really a competition at all anyway. No points are awarded for the driver that runs the fastest lap. The only real reward, if you want to call it that, is more interviews from the media. Some drivers will willingly put the car on the edge, just to try to get a feel for true race conditions. Some will just test certain aspects of the car without really pushing it. Some will be just looking at tire wear. Some will be looking at handling. Some will be looking for straight line speed. It varies from driver, and from team to team.

If you're a RCR fan, I wouldn't worry too much. Wait for the green flag to drop, and maybe not even then, but with 10 to 20 laps to go, watch the Chevrolets of Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton and Kevin Harvick. That's when you'll see what they've really got.

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