As soon as NASCAR announced it would reduce the size of rear spoilers and soften tire compounds, many race teams were complaining about how hard the cars would be to drive. After one full day of testing the new rules at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, most drivers feel the concerns were overblown.

            ¿There has been a lot of hysteria around the changes this year,¿ said Mark Martin, driver of the No. 6 Viagra Ford. ¿It was a year ago since I was here, and my car feels just like it did a year ago.¿

            Martin was one of 43 NASCAR Nextel Cup teams who took part in NASCAR Preseason Thunder Las Vegas. The drivers tested Monday and will return to LVMS on Tuesday to prepare for the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 on March 13.

            While Martin noticed no difference in his car, some drivers felt their cars were a little looser than in the past.

            ¿There is a lot of movement in the car, but I think with my background and driving style, it¿s not going to hurt me as much as some of the other guys,¿ said Jimmie Johnson, driver of the Lowe¿s Chevrolet. ¿The car has been great though. I haven¿t had a chance to race with anyone else to see what the car will act like in traffic though.¿

            Four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon was surprised at how well his car handled.

            ¿We are noticing that there is not as big a difference as what we expected,¿ Gordon said. ¿We expected the cars to be a lot looser, so we came here really tight. I¿m pretty happy so far.¿

            No official testing times were recorded, but most teams felt their lap times were comparable to past years.

            Testing resumes Tuesday, and the speedway¿s grandstands will be open to the public free of charge. The stars of the NASCAR Busch Series will arrive Wednesday for a two-day test.