Track Surface Draws Rave Reviews
Not only did Spencer lead the speed parade with an unofficial lap at 178.879 mph around the 1.5-mile superspeedway, he also led the chorus of praise for the track's renovated racing surface.
"They did a good job grinding the track," Spencer said. "I like it now that there are two distinct grooves that will be there all night long. Before, people would stay on the bottom. Now I think you can race high or low. It's going to be a lot better racing in one and two and now that they have taken the bumps out of three and four there will be better racing through there also."
Spencer's quickest lap in the Team ASE Dodge was more than three miles per hour faster than the truck series track record of 175.593 mph set by Bill Lester during the inaugural event in 2003.
Jack Sprague was second fastest on the unofficial stopwatches with a lap at 178.554 mph in the No. 16 Chevrolet Silverado.
"It's got huge grip, wide open like Texas, Atlanta and California," Sprague said. "The side-by-side deal remains to be seen. If the bottom stays as grippy as it is right now, it will be faster than the second lane. But I think there's a lot of grip up top too."
David Starr, the pole winner for last year's truck race, was third fastest at 178.118 mph in the Spears Manufacturing Chevrolet.
"Growing up and watching racing on TV, you always heard about the 'Humpy Bumps' and you don't realize how big the 'Humpy Bumps' are until you come and race here," Starr said. "Last year, I learned to get through the 'Humpy Bumps' and we won the pole. Now, we come back to test and the 'Humpy Bumps' are gone! The amount of grip the track has is going to make for one heck of a race."
Lester was fastest among the Toyotas, clocking the fourth quickest lap at 177.521 mph while Bobby Labonte, subbing for Tony Stewart, was fifth fastest in the No. 47 Chevrolet All Star truck.
Veteran open-wheel racer and 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier was among those on hand for the testing session. Lazier, who won the 1997 Indy Racing League event at Charlotte Motor Speedway, is looking to break into the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. He tested one of Billy Ballew's two No. 15 Chevrolets while Johnny Sauter wheeled the other.
There were no incidents during the session which was interrupted by rain in the late afternoon and then cut short by nearly three hours when rain began to fall again around 7 p.m.
Testing for the May events at Charlotte Motor Speedway continues Tuesday and Wednesday, May 3-4, when NASCAR NEXTEL Cup teams take to the track in preparation for the May 21 NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge and the May 29 Coca-Cola 600.
The frontstretch grandstand will be open free of charge during the session which runs from 3 to 10 p.m. Tickets for all May events at Charlotte Motor Speedway, including the Quaker Steak & Lube 200 presented by Click It or Ticket on Friday, May 20, are available by calling 1-800-455-FANS or online at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.
The top-10 unofficial speeds:
Showing driver, truck number and speed:
1. Jimmy Spencer, 2, 178.879
2. Jack Sprague, 16, 178.554
3. David Starr, 75, 178.118
4. Bill Lester, 22, 177.521
5. Bobby Labonte, 47, 176.678
6. Ted Musgrave, 1, 176.401
7. Ron Hornaday, 6, 175.798
8. Johnny Sauter, 15, 175.467
9.Steve Park, 175.268
10. Chase Montgomery, 18, 174.199.