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March 6, 2014

Robin Pemberton

Gene Stefanyshyn

KERRY THARP:テつ To close out today's test session, we're going to hear from Gene Stefanyshyn, who's the NASCAR vice president of innovation and racing development, along with Robin Pemberton, who is the NASCAR vice president of competition and racing development.
Gene, I'll start with you.テつ Certainly the rules package was developed after a lot of collaboration between NASCAR, the teams, manufacturers, the testing at Charlotte, etcetera, and then out here today.テつ What were you able to take away from today's test and how did you think things went out there today?
GENE STEFANYSHYN:テつ I think the two drivers today kind of gave us good bookends of kind of where the teams are.テつ We know that this will happen any time you give them anything new.テつ There's a bit of a learning curve.テつ I think the Harvick team, the No.4 car, they've got it figured out already, and some of the other guys are struggling.
The package we put together is going to be used on all the tracks except the superspeedways, so at Phoenix we began to see a glimpse, but obviously since that's only a mile track, the speeds are a lot lower.テつ They could probably only harvest maybe 30 to 40 percent of the capability of the package, so really this will be the first race where we get to see they can fully exploit the aerodynamic and the chassis changes.テつ So we'll see what happens.
But having said that, we can't jump too quickly and say that this is the answer because as you saw, some teams will take some time to figure it out.テつ I think the aero piece of it, it's pretty much set.テつ It's just a matter of getting the driver to find the limit and feeling comfortable with the aero, but the chassis, the engineers will play around with it for a while until that settles down, then the driver will begin to find the sweet spot and get comfortable.テつ Probably it will take‑‑ probably we won't have a good feeling where all this lands until we get about three under our belt, and that would be the Texas race.テつ That's the way I'm feeling.
KERRY THARP:テつ Robin, you've participated in hundreds if not thousands, of tests with NASCAR, and certainly you know that some of the things that a crew chief and team go through in trying to make their cars better, I'm sure you saw some of that out here today and will continue to see some of that with this new rules package.
ROBIN PEMBERTON:テつ Yeah, it takes time.テつ Right now I think guys are just looking for single car speed, looking for trends.テつ Everything that Kevin said, you know, that most of the garage is going through the same thing.テつ They come with a test plan, and the test plan is as much about just getting direction, not necessarily hitting a home run or anything.
I think Kevin said it best; it took three different versions and they finally got direction, and once you get direction, then how they take that and improve on it, you know, teams will go at their own pace.
For the most part I think it looks like there's speed in the cars, and I think as the weekend unfolds, tomorrow will be much like today.テつ They'll probably be a little bit quicker.テつ And then I think the important day will be Saturday where we have more cars working on race trim and around each other.テつ It'll be about learning the aero part of the car, how they drive around each other.テつ That'll be‑‑ because it'll probably change significantly from multi‑car runs to single‑car runs.

Q.テつ I think you answered part of this already, Gene.テつ Whatever this race looks like on Sunday, you're not looking at this as sort of a pass or fail test; I would assume that‑‑ I think you mentioned maybe waiting until at least going through Texas before you had an idea of what it was going to see, but along those lines, is the aero package something that you guys are committed to for the season, or is it possible there could be changes if you don't like what you see, say, after Texas?
GENE STEFANYSHYN:テつ I think I would say directionally, we'd like to keep it as it is, but, of course, if there's something unforeseen or something significant that comes up, we will take action.テつ But that's not in our game plan at the moment.テつ We're going to let this thing kind of play out, let the teams‑‑ there's a learning curve here, like with anything.テつ They have to get down the learning curve, understand where they are.テつ One of the things, really when we wrote the front spring rules, the new chassis setup, we were careful to be able to let the teams run with what we currently have, so it's going to be interesting to see how many people stay with what they have had and what they know and how many people are going to move to the new world.テつ So that's going to be interesting to see how all that plays out, too.
Yeah, so, again, I think you can't be too premature on this.テつ There's a lot of cars.テつ There's a lot of different engineers, a lot of different thoughts on getting down the learning curve, so, yeah, we'll wait and see and see how it all plays out.

Q.テつ It's going to be a few months before you can submit new pieces; is that correct?テつ You're doing the thing this year where there's only certain parts to submit new parts?
GENE STEFANYSHYN:テつ Yeah, that's true.テつ We've given the teams until the 31st of March to be able to submit front rear suspension steering components, and we're going to put a moratorium.テつ Then we'll start working on the '15 commissions around the July time period, yes.

Q.テつ So the teams that are like really behind right now, is it still going to be possible, do you think, for those type teams to catch up and make gains before this time period, or is it possible that because they're not going to be able to, you know, submit parts or have them approved for a while, maybe try new things, it could be a couple months before they are able to catch up?
GENE STEFANYSHYN:テつ I think that was the reason we waited until the end of March.テつ Okay, we looked at the race schedule and said, they need to get quite a few races under their belt to figure it out, and that's what we think.テつ A lot of the areas they can work like spring rates and all that, those are not approved parts.テつ They can go pick those, and it's a matter of getting the right combination.
I think we've thought about this, and I think we've left a lot of‑‑ enough time for them to be able to get dialed in, and the things that they have left after March are still things they can play with, spring rates, etcetera.テつ So I think we're okay there.

Q.テつ Teams obviously used today to learn a lot.テつ Is there anything NASCAR wanted to learn from today, from what the teams gathered?
ROBIN PEMBERTON:テつ Basically tests like this are for the teams.テつ There's more to be gained for them.テつ We're here in case there's questions and really just to observe for the most part, like we always do.テつ It's really about a team test right now.
KERRY THARP:テつ Robin and Gene, thank you for coming in and putting an exclamation point on today's test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.テつ We appreciate the media coming out to cover this.

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