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Teams set to test new Daytona pavement in January

Before NASCAR implemented its current testing ban at tracks its three national touring series compete at, teams converged on Daytona International Speedway each January for test sessions that allowed teams and drivers to prepare for the upcoming race season, specifically the season-opening Daytona 500.

That testing is returning in 2011 to help teams get used to the new pavement at Daytona -- the first new pavement at the track since 1978. Teams will test at the track Jan. 20 through Jan. 22, with Jan. 23 scheduled as a rain date.

"This allows everyone an equal opportunity to work on their setups and get everything in order leading up to Speedweeks and the running of the Daytona 500," NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton said. "Additionally, it gives the teams the chance to get accustomed to the new pit road and the added run-off areas on the backstretch. We're excited about the new surface and believe it will only enhance the racing experience at Daytona."

Fans are invited to watch the test sessions from the track's Sprint Fanzone as part of the fan festival known as Preseason Thunder. Testing will begin at 9 a.m. ET and end at 5 p.m. ET each day, with a lunch break from noon until 1 p.m. There will also be Fan Fest driver autograph and question-and-answer sessions from 5 to 9 p.m. Jan. 21 and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Jan. 22.

Tickets for Preseason Thunder are $20 and can be purchased by contacting Daytona International Speedway. The test sessions may also be viewed for free from a section of the Oldfield Grandstands.

Unlike in previous years, there will be no January Nationwide or Camping World Truck series test sessions. Those series will receive extra practice times during Speedweeks in February.

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