"Rocket" Ryan Newman Fastest in Busch Testing
NASCAR Busch Series point leader Carl Edwards was among four drivers who walked away from grinding crashes during the six-hour testing session. David Stremme, Tyler Walker and Brian Sockwell were the others who tested the SAFER barriers.
The unofficial watches caught Newman with a lap of 29.303 seconds, 184.281 mph, in his new No. 39 Penske Racing Dodge. Newman, who plans to makes his first Busch Series start since 2001 in the CARQUEST Auto Parts 300, did not participate in the last week's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series testing sessions and this was his first time on the recently renovated 1.5-mile superspeedway.
"I was a really big fan of the bumps and the way the track was," Newman said. "But the way that it's ground and with the combination of the Goodyear tires, I think it's going to create some really good racing. I'm really just gaining information for myself, as far as what's fast and what's not. I've run pretty much all over and I'm still pretty quick."
Shane Hmiel was second fastest on the unofficial stopwatches at 183.032 mph in the No. 32 WIN Fuel Chevrolet.
"It's going to be an exciting race," Hmiel said. "We've only been making race runs right now; we will try some qualifying runs tomorrow."
Greg Biffle recorded the third fastest lap at 182.729 mph in the No. 66 Duraflame Ford with defending Busch Series champion Mark Truex Jr. next on the chart at 182.716 mph in the No. 8 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet
Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year contender Reed Sorenson was fifth fastest at 182.402 mph in the No. 41 Discount Tire Dodge.
"I've only had a chance to run ARCA and ASA cars here, so I don't have anything to compare it to," Sorenson explained. "I remember when I ran an ARCA car here it was tough to pass in turn three, but now I feel like you can just drive around someone. You can pretty much run everywhere, so we'll have a guys running around the bottom, around the middle and around the top."
Stremme was the first to make wall contact when his No. 14 Dodge slammed the wall early in the session. Stremme was able to drive back to the garage, but the car suffered heavy right-side damage and he was finished for the evening.
Sockwell was next to find the wall when he spun the No. 88 Chevrolet shortly after the dinner break. Like Stremme, Sockwell was able to drive back to the garage area.
Edwards was checked and released from the Carolinas HealthCare System Infield Care Center after a hard crash when his No. 60 Ford slammed the turn four wall near the end of the session and Tyler Walker crashed the No. 38 Dodge with less than 15 minutes remaining.
NASCAR Busch Series teams will be on the track again Tuesday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. The six-hour session concludes testing for the track's slate of May races.
Fans can attend the final NASCAR Busch Series testing session free of charge. Charlotte Motor Speedway's frontstretch grandstand will be open and fans should enter through Gate 5A, located next to the main ticket office.
Tickets for all May events at Charlotte Motor Speedway, including the May 28 CARQUEST Auto Parts 300 NASCAR Busch Series race, can be purchased by calling 1-800-455-FANS or online at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.
The top-10 unofficial speeds:
Showing driver, car number and speed:
1. Ryan Newman, 39, 184.281
2. Shane Hmiel, 183.032
3. Greg Biffle, 66, 182.729
4. Martin Truex Jr., 8, 182.716
5. Reed Sorenson, 41, 182.402
6. Jimmie Johnson, 48, 182.303
7. Kevin Harvick, 21, 182.205
8. Bobby Hamilton, 95, 181.855
9. Tyler Walker, 38, 181.415
10. Paul Menard, 181.342.