Jeff Green Fastest as Cup Testing Concludes
It¿s been 38 years since a Petty Enterprises No. 43 has started from the pole for the Coca-Cola 600, but Green showed the team will once again be a contender during CTC Pole Night qualifying on Thursday, May 27.
Shortly after sunset, the unofficial stopwatches caught Green with a lap of 29.602 seconds, 182.420 mph, to top the 16 NEXTEL Cup Series drivers making final preparations for the May 30 Coca-Cola 600.
Dave Blaney, who has two Busch Series poles at Lowe¿s Motor Speedway, was fast for the second straight day, posting an unofficial lap of 182.174 mph in Bill Davis¿ unsponsored No. 23 Dodge. Blaney¿s night nearly turned sour late in the session when he brushed the outside wall in turn four, but the damage was only cosmetic.
Ward Burton, who opted to skip the Monday session, was third fastest at 181.616 mph in the No. 0 NetZero Chevrolet with Jimmy Spencer fourth on the speed chart at 180.463 mph in the No. 4 Morgan-McClure Chevrolet. John Andretti rounded out the ¿fast five¿ at 180.120 mph in the No. 1 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolet.
Interestingly, three of the five fastest NEXTEL Cup Series cars do not have full-time sponsors.
1996 Coca-Cola 600 winner Dale Jarrett slapped the SAFER Barriers in turn four just before the session ended at 10 p.m. and Jeff Fultz backed into the same spot just before 8 p.m. Both men were able to drive their cars back to the garage area.
On the NASCAR Busch Series side of the garage area, 16 teams were preparing for the CARQUEST Auto Parts 300 on Saturday afternoon, May 29.
Menard, driving the No. 33 owned by Andy Petree, slammed the SAFER Barrier between turns three and four just before the lunch break. Despite heavy damage to the rear of the car, Menard was checked at the Carolinas HealthCare Infield Care Center and released.
¿The SAFER Barrier was definitely softer, but it was still a hard impact,¿ Menard said as he surveyed his badly damaged machine. ¿I had actually been tight and it just snapped around.¿
Sauter, testing the No. 50 Busch Series car owned by Michael Holigan, also slammed the SAFER Barrier in turn four shortly after 1 p.m. The second-generation driver visited the Carolinas HealthCare Infield Care Center where he was checked and released.
Greg Biffle and Mike Bliss were among those on hand who did not participate in Monday¿s Busch Series session. Bobby Labonte visited and took some laps in the No. 18 driven by Joe Gibbs Racing teammate J.J. Yeley and Tony Stewart drove the black No. 29 Chevrolets that were wheeled by Clint Boyer on Monday.
Testing continues Wednesday at Lowe¿s Motor Speedway and fans can watch the action from the main grandstand free of charge. IPOWER DASH Series drivers will be on the track from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with ARCA RE/MAX Series teams testing for the May 27 Quaker Steak & Lube 100 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. Jeff Green, 43, 182.420 mph; 2. Dave Blaney, 23, 182.174; 3. Ward Burton, 0, 181.616; 4. Jimmy Spencer, 4, 180.463; 5. John Andretti, 1, 180.120; 6. Tony Stewart, 20, 179.982; 7. Greg Biffle, 16, 179,146; 8. Johnny Benson, 96, 178.897; 9. Kevin Harvick, 29, 178.083; 10. Kyle Busch, 84, 178.042; 11. Dale Jarrett, 88, 177.264; 12. Robby Gordon, 31, 176.442; 13. Kerry Earnhardt, 33, 175.999; 14. Mark Green, 44, 175.012; 15. Johnny Sauter, 30, 174.814; 16. Jeff Fultz, 78, 172.789.