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NASCAR to test Next Gen car in Winston-Salem; Dale Earnhardt Jr., Clint Bowyer to drive.
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NASCAR to test Next Gen car in Winston-Salem; Dale Earnhardt Jr., Clint Bowyer to drive.

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It wasn’t long after Winston-Salem State’s final home football game Saturday that the guardrails used for NASCAR racing at Bowman Gray Stadium went back up.

A tire test of NASCAR’s Next Gen car will be held Tuesday afternoon, with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Clint Bower driving at the famed quarter-mile track.

The testing is not open to the public.

The tests are part of preparations for the NASCAR Cup Series to run the season-opening Clash at the Coliseum on Feb. 6 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

A quarter-mile track, similar to the one at Bowman Gray, is being built around the football field at the fabled Coliseum, which has been home to Southern Cal football since it opened in 1923. It also hosted Olympic Games in 1932 and 1984 and is home to the NFL's Rams and Raiders. The Coliseum has been the site of speedway and supercross motorcycle racing and dirt-racing events, but NASCAR's visit will be a first. 

Bowman Gray's history includes racing by NASCAR's top series from 1958 to 1971, with Richard Petty among the former winners at the stadium that opened in 1949. 

NASCAR.com writer Zach Albert this month speculated whether Tuesday's test could be a forerunner to Bowman Gray hosting a similar Cup Series event.

“That’s fascinating you say that, but that’s for another part of our company to work on," John Probst, NASCAR’s senior vice president of racing innovation, told NASCAR.com. "I would say that that is right now 100% in preparation for the Coliseum. ... I don’t expect it to go more than about four or five hours. We just want to go there, turn a bunch of laps ... I think that we just want to know, can we run 150 laps in a row, can we run 75 laps in a row?”

Bowman Gray Stadium's 72nd season ended in August. Champions were crowned in four divisions: Modified, Sportsman, Street Stock and Stadium Stock.

A late addition this season to the Modified Division was Bobby Labonte, who raced in the final four weeks. Labonte, who lives in Trinity, said last August he loved racing on the historic track.

The asphalt track will be torn up and replaced starting next month, a project paid for with bond money earmarked for stadium improvement. Bowman Gray's 73rd season is expected to begin in April.

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