Dale Earnhardt Jr. to take part in test

Updated: November 9, 2011, 5:44 PM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

CHARLOTTE -- NASCAR has scheduled a special test for Nov. 15 at Daytona International Speedway to find ways to eliminate the two-car drafting that has become prevalent at restrictor-plate tracks.

Six to eight teams will be in attendance and NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said the teams will work on a variety of combinations of restrictor plates and spoilers to give teams a good baseline package to bring back for the preseason test in January.

Among the drivers participating will be Dale Earnhardt Jr. and one other driver from Hendrick Motorsports.

Earnhardt
Earnhardt

"Apparently, they put this test together last minute for a reason," Earnhardt said on Tuesday from the NASCAR Hall of Fame. "We'll go down there and they'll let us know exactly what they're wanting to do, what they're trying to accomplish, what they're trying to try.

"I want to be able to give them the best feedback I can to give them the solutions they're looking for so that we can, with confidence, go into Daytona in February and expect to put together a great show for the fans that will be there and that will be watching on TV."

Earnhardt expects much of the emphasis to be on running with a smaller spoiler, which several drivers said made the two-car draft more difficult during a recent fuel injection test at Talladega Superspeedway.

"I'm sure they're going to bring every feasible option and we'll try to get that out on the racetrack," Earnhardt said. "The difficult part is going to be simulating race conditions. Say they bring out a small spoiler, this, that and the other, we got to go out there and try to push each other around the racetrack with it, hope that that doesn't work.

"It could be potentially a dangerous situation. You got to be careful and you hope to have a safe test."

NASCAR has been under criticism from fans about the two-car drafting that has been referred to as the sport's version of Dancing with the Stars. Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president for competition, acknowledged that concern during the Talladega test but warned, "you have to be careful because the cure can be way worse than the disease."

NASCAR had hoped to reduce the length of push time at Talladega by enlarging the size of the restrictor plate hole in order to increase speed and adjusting the pop-off valve in the cooling system to increase the threat of overheating.

Earnhardt, considered one of the best in the sport at understanding the draft, said he will do anything he can to help fix the problem.

"It's a little bit different than what your typical goals are when you go testing," Earnhardt said. "Most of the time they're a little more personal, like you're trying to do whatever you can to make your car fast, work with your team, learn, put together notes.

"This test ... you're working with NASCAR and the goals will be a little different. You'll have to open your mind up a little bit to try new things and try to give the best feedback you can. It's really important."

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.

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