NASCAR has dubbed the car "G6" because it is the sixth generation of vehicle to be raced in the Sprint Cup series. It looks more like automobiles seen on the streets rather than the modified versions that have raced in past years.
"Everybody is super excited about this race car and what it brings to our sport and the identity that it brings back to the passenger cars you see on the roads," said Clint Bowyer, who finished second in last year's Sprint Cup points race.
"It was fun to get out there and see what it is all about."
The new car was tested last month at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but not all the series drivers took part.
Thursday was the first of three days of testing at Daytona, where the Sprint Cup season will open on Feb. 24.
Matt Kenseth, last year's Daytona 500 winner who has moved from Roush Fenway Racing to Joe Gibbs Racing for the 2013 season, had the fastest lap during the early practice sessions. He traveled the 2 1/2-mile circuit at 192.757 miles per hour.
Danica Patrick, who for the first time in her career will race a full Sprint Cup schedule, also took part in Thursday's tests and said she had decided not to race in this year's Indianapolis 500.
Patrick had considered competing in both the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte -- races that are run the same day. The grueling double has been attempted by a few drivers in the past, but with little success.
"The team and I decided to focus on the Sprint Cup race," Patrick said. "It's going to be plenty of work as it is. It's going to be important for me running for the championship full time."