Veteran Mark Martin Sets the Pace in Cup Testing
Martin, the 2002 Coca-Cola 600 winner, ran numerous laps at just over 180 mph in Jack Roush¿s No. 6 Pfizer/Viagra Ford. According to the unofficial stopwatches, the 45-year-old Martin led the search for speed with a best lap of 181.733 mph around the 1.5-mile superspeedway.
Dave Blaney, driving Bill Davis¿ unsponsored No. 23 Dodge, was second fastest, just a tick of the watch behind Martin at 181.147 mph, while Casey Mears was third on the speed chart at 179.087 in the No. 41 Target Dodge.
1996 Coca-Cola 600 winner Dale Jarrett was fourth fastest at 177.445 mph in the No. 88 UPS Ford while John Andretti, who has not raced since Feb. 22 at North Carolina Motor Speedway, rounded out the ¿fast five¿ at 177.282 mph in the No. 1 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolet.
With 11 teams on hand, the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series testing session started at 4 p.m. and ended under the lights at 10 p.m.
Ten NASCAR Busch Series drivers, including series point leader Martin Truex Jr., also tested Monday for the May 29 CARQUEST Auto Parts 300. The Busch Series cars were on track from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in preparation for the only daytime race scheduled during Coca-Cola 600 Weeks.
The 10 Busch Series teams had 15 cars in the garage area with one-third of them belonging to Richard Childress Racing. Kevin Harvick, who claimed the pole for last year¿s CARQUEST Auto Parts 300, tested a pair of No. 21 RCR Reese¿s Chevrolets while Ron Hornaday was in his familiar ACDelco No. 2 and Clint Boyer drove two plain black No. 29 Chevrolets.
Kyle Busch, who finished second in last May¿s 300, was also among those testing aboard the No. 5 Lowe¿s Chevrolet.
The caution flag was never unfurled as both the NEXTEL Cup and Busch Series testing sessions were run without incident.
Testing continues Tuesday and Wednesday at Lowe¿s Motor Speedway and fans can watch the action from the main grandstand free of charge. Busch Series drivers will be back on the track Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with the NEXTEL Cup Series teams finishing their preparations for the Coca-Cola 600 from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. IPOWER DASH Series teams will test Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with the ARCA RE/MAX Series cars on the track from 5 to 10 p.m.
Tickets for all May events at Lowe¿s Motor Speedway are still available and can be obtained online at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com or by calling the speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS.
Unofficial NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series testing speeds:
Showing driver, car number and speed; 1. Mark Martin, 6, 181.733 mph; 2. Dave Blaney, 23, 181.147; 3. Casey Mears, 41, 179.087; 4. Dale Jarrett, 88, 177.445; 5. John Andretti, 1, 177.282; 6. Jeff Green, 43, 177.270; 7. Johnny Benson, 96, 177.264; 8. Kyle Busch, 84, 177.218; 9. Johnny Sauter, 30, 176.678; 10. Mark Green, 44, 175.063; 11. Kerry Earnhardt, 33, 174.848.