Several questions await 2007 NASCAR season

Published 6:14 am Tuesday, January 9, 2007

By By SCOTT NOVAK / Niles Daily Star
NILES – The first of three days of testing at the Daytona International Speedway is in the books.
The drivers got back behind the wheel on Monday after weather delayed the start of the morning testing session.
There are plenty of questions entering the 2007 NEXTEL Cup season for the drivers, crew chiefs and owners.
There are a number of new drivers with new teams and new crew chiefs for some veteran drivers. And then there is the addition of Toyota to the manufacture's list.
Kevin Harvick, who will have a new sponsor this year, said that one of the biggest concerns for him entering the 2007 is the new engine for the Chevrolets.
"I think for me, I think the new engine is obviously a huge question mark for the Chevrolet team just because, you know, we just have to build them and there's a lot of development, trying to develop the new engine," he said. "Chevrolet has done a great job getting us to this point. It's going to be up to the teams to keep the progress going forward."
Harvick also said that working on the Car of Tomorrow while trying to improve the current cars has been a challenge.
"It's something that we've had to develop that. We've had to develop the Car of Tomorrow which Richard (Childress) has been good to let us develop as the process has developed through NASCAR's evolution of making the Car of Tomorrow. So, you know, we're still trying to make our current car better, so there's just a lot of things going on and just a lot of work. I know for our guys in particular, the winter was really short this year, just for the fact they didn't get a lot of days off just because he had to build a lot of stuff."
Kasey Kahne, who along with Harvick both qualified for the Chase for the Championship last season also said that working with the Car of Tomorrow was going to be a challenge.
"You know, the Car of Tomorrow is going to be something different," Kahne responded. "The car that we have that we are starting the season with has a new nose which will be a little bit different, too. We'll be doing a lot of testing with both of those. I don't know, I think Evernham Motorsports has done a pretty good job of trying to stay on top of it and trying to be prepared and being ready to race whatever car it is and we'll have to see what happens when we get to some of these tracks."
Kahne pointed out that having the same team for a second straight year should help with making those adjustments quickly.
As far as the Toyota's are concerned, Harvick and Kahne will both be glad when the season finally gets started.
"Well, I think obviously bringing a new manufacturer puts a lot of pressure on the other manufacturers and the teams," Harvick said. "I think all of the talk is over. It's time to finally go race and we don't have to hear about Toyota is going to change the sport and how this is going to happen and how that's going to happen. We're going to actually see what's going to happen. It's something that we need to get out on the racetrack and just kind of see where everybody stands. I don't think adding another manufacturer is going to hurt anything at all. I think it's going to make it as competitive as it's ever been."
Kahne added, "I agree with Kevin on that. I think the first time I saw one was this morning, and to see a Camry sitting there was something different. Other than that, see how things go and I feel like we're going to be pretty good."
With one test session behind them, Harvick and Kahne are looking forward to seeing just how good they can make their cars before having to load them back onto the haulers on Wednesday.
After that, it will be time to start preparing for the Daytona 500 on Feb. 18.