Veteran Ron Hornaday led the speed parade while NASCAR Busch Series point leader Brian Vickers walked away from a grinding crash Monday evening at Lowe¿s Motor Speedway as 24 drivers and teams prepared for the inaugural nighttime running of the ¿Little Trees¿ 300 on Friday night, Oct. 10.

Driving the No. 2 AC-Delco Chevrolet owned by Richard Childress, Hornaday was caught on the unofficial stopwatches at an average speed of 180.765 mph around the 1.5-mile superspeedway.

¿We¿re really happy,¿ said Hornaday, who won the pole for the CARQUEST Auto Parts 300 NASCAR Busch Series event here in 2002. ¿We ran three laps in that range and I haven¿t seen anybody faster.¿

Just before 9 p.m., Vickers lost control of the No. 5 GMAC/CARQUEST Auto Parts Chevrolet coming off turn two and slammed the wall with the right-front corner. The car was heavily damaged, but Vickers was checked at the Carolinas HealthCare System Infield Care Center and released.

1992 NASCAR Busch Series champion Joe Nemechek was second fastest on the unofficial watches at 180.036 mph in his No. 87 Chevrolet. Nemechek, a 1997 Busch Series race winner at Lowe¿s Motor Speedway, is among several NASCAR Winston Cup drivers expected to compete in the ¿Little Trees¿ 300.

Busch Series title contender Jason Keller was third fastest at 178.306 mph in the No. 57 Ford while Mark Green was fastest at 178.264 mph in a No. 27 Brewco Motorsports Pontiac sporting the blue and green colors that normally adorn the No. 37 driven by Green¿s brother, David. Scott Wimmer rounded out the top-five in Bill Davis¿ No. 23 Chevrolet at 177.971 mph.

Wayne Anderson joined Vickers on the list of those making wall contact during the six-hour testing session. Anderson lost control of his No. 35 Chevrolet coming off turn two and backed hard into the outside wall. The driver was uninjured, but the rear of the car sustained heavy damage.

Testing for the Oct. 10 ¿Little Trees¿ 300 continues Tuesday evening. Cars will be on the track from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. and fans will be admitted free to the main grandstand.

Good seats are still available for the ¿Little Trees¿ 300 starting at just $17. Call 1-800-455-FANS or visit

The top-10 unofficial speeds:

1. Ron Hornaday, 180.765; 2. Joe Nemechek, 180.036; 3. Jason Keller, 178.306; 4. Mark Green, 178.265; 5. Scott Wimmer, 177.971; 6. Tim Fedewa, 177.573; 7. Mike Wallace, 177.550; 8. Brian Vickers, 177.445; 9. Stacy Compton, 177.410; 10. Dave Blaney, 176.922.