Newman Fastest Again as Busch Testing Concludes
Scheduled for six hours, the final pre-race test session was cut in half as rain moved into the area just prior to the scheduled dinner break at 6 p.m.
Newman, who plans to make his first NASCAR Busch Series start since 2001 in the CARQUEST Auto Parts 300, was clocked at 29.711 seconds, 181.750 mph, in the afternoon heat. His lap was considerably slower than the 184.281 mph speed he recorded in cooler conditions Monday evening aboard the No. 39 Penske Racing Dodge.
Raybestos rookie-of-the-year contender Denny Hamlin was second fastest at 181.068 mph in the No. 20 Rockwell Automation Chevrolet.
"This is my first time here, so it's all new to me," Hamlin said. "But I love it. We are running as much as three cars wide in turns one and two and just about as much in turns three and four. I think it's going to make for a lot of side-by-side racing, and a lot of guys are running the top instead of the bottom."
Team owner Robert Yates was in the garage area keeping a close eye on his Busch Series team and driver Elliott Sadler was third fastest on the unofficial stopwatches at 180.505 mph in the No. 90 CitiFinancial Ford.
Joe Nemechek was fourth fastest at 180.216 mph in the No. 87 Cellular One Chevrolet.
"We have only been here today, and now with the rain it's not good," Nemechek said. "We are just working on different aspects to get the car hooked up better on the race track. It's a whole different track compared to what it used to be. You can't even compare what it was, just totally different. It's a lot faster than it was and has much more grip. You can go around the corners faster but you have to set your car up to do all that"
Clint Bowyer rounded out the top five with a lap at 179.928 mph in the No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet.
The session was marred by two single-car crashes. The first came early when Jimmie Johnson lost control of the No. 48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet in turns three and four and backed into the outside wall. Johnson was able to drive back to the garage area, but the car suffered heavy rear-end damage.
The second accident came less than an hour later when a flat left-rear tire sent Jamie McMurray's No. 64 Dodge hard into the third-turn wall. McMurray was checked at the Carolinas HealthCare System Infield Care Center and released while members of the Rusty Wallace Inc. team loaded the badly damaged car.
The testing session concluded on-track activity prior to the May races at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The next action comes Thursday, May 19, when the NASCAR Craftsman Series drivers practice and qualify for the May 20 Quaker Steak & Lube 200 presented by Click It or Ticket.
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, 181.750
2. Denny Hamlin, 20, 181.068
3. Elliott Sadler, 90, 180.505
4. Joe Nemechek, 87, 180.216
5. Clint Bowyer, 2, 179.928
6. Carl Edwards, 60, 179.868
7. J.J. Yeley, 18, 179.856
8. Michel Jourdain Jr., 10, 179.790
9.Johnny Sauter, 1, 179.658
10. Jon Wood, 47, 179.545