Testing begins in Charlotte on passing problems at 1.5-mile tracks

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Six drivers worked on several ideas Monday to make passing easier on the 1.5-mile racetracks next year.

Brad Keselowski and Trevor Bayne represented Ford at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, while Denny Hamlin and Brett Moffitt drove for Toyota and Jamie McMurray and Jeff Burton drove Chevrolets during the test.

Among the ideas were a more-squared front bumper, a bigger rear spoiler, a taller driver compartment, screens in sections of the rear bumper and air-deflecting strips on the roof. NASCAR had seven different changes, and they bundled them into three different combinations.

The devices were designed to break up the slipstreams to make the cars less dependent on aerodynamics.

STEWART HAS SURGERY (AGAIN): The third surgery on Tony Stewart’s broken right leg was for an infection that “popped up” after the three-time NASCAR champion had begun walking a bit again.

Stewart underwent his third operation on Oct. 7, and said during a video chat Tuesday night on NASCAR.com that the risk of infection was something doctors had warned him about after his injury in an August sprint car crash.

Stewart is still on track to be back in the car for the season-opening Daytona 500.

FEW CHANGES TO SCHEDULE: NASCAR made few changes to the 2014 Sprint Cup Series schedule by not adding any new tracks. The biggest change is the springtime race at the Kansas Speedway and the Mother’s Day weekend race at the Darlington Raceway swapping their dates.

The regular season will start Feb. 23 with the Daytona 500 at the Daytona International Speedway and it will end at the Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 16.

Other key races will be: the Coca-Cola 600 May 25 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway; the Coke Zero 400 July 5 at the Daytona International Speedway; the Crown Royal 400 July 27 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the final race before the Chase for the Championship Sept. 6 at the Richmond International Raceway.

DRIVERS RETAINED: Front Row Motorsports will bring back drivers David Gilliland and David Ragan in 2014.

“This has been a milestone year for us, and we’re extremely happy that two of the guys who helped get us here will be back next year,” team owner Bob Jenkins said Wednesday. “We’re improving our race program, attracting more sponsors, and setting and achieving higher and higher goals each year. Having David and David, our one-two punch, back in those cars next year is central to continuing our growth and improvement.”

Gilliland will be back for a fifth season with Front Row and drive the No. 38. Ragan will be returning for his third year and drive the No. 34.


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