Andretti and Johnson Lead the Speed Parade
Making his maiden voyage in the No. 14 Ford fielded by ppc Racing, Andretti was caught on the unofficial watches at 180.222 mph to lead the six NEXTEL Cup teams participating in the five-hour session.
With the new team having no provisional starting spots at its disposal, crew chief and veteran engineer Dave Charpentier first focused on getting Andretti comfortable in the car; then searched for the required speed to make the 43-car starting field for the UAW-GM Quality 500 on Saturday night, Oct. 16.
Backed up by a bevy of computers and Hendrick Motorsports engineers, NEXTEL Cup point leader Jeff Gordon was second fastest at 178.968 mph. Gordon, who tested a pair of No. 24 Chevrolets, was the only driver in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup who opted to participate in the open test.
Ward Burton was third fastest at 178.701 mph in the No. 0 Chevrolet with Greg Biffle (178.317) and Terry Labonte (176.962) rounding out the top-five.
On the NASCAR Busch Series side of the garage, Johnson¿s No. 48 SpongeBob SquarePants Chevrolet was fastest as 16 teams prepared for the Lowe¿s presents The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie 300 on Friday night, Oct. 15.
Former USAC open-wheel ace Mike Bliss was second fastest at 176.378 mph in the No. 20 Chevrolet that sported a bright-red Banquet Foods paint scheme.
Robby Gordon was third quickest at 176.056 mph in his No. 55 Chevrolet while NASCAR Busch Series title contender Kyle Busch was fourth on the list at 175.308 mph. Bobby Labonte rounded out the top-five at 175.308 mph in the No. 19 Chevrolet.
The caution flag was never unfurled as the entire session was run without incident.
Testing continues Wednesday evening at Lowe¿s Motor Speedway and fans can watch the action from the main grandstand free of charge. NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and Busch Series drivers will again share the track from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Tickets for all October 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 testing speeds:
Showing driver, car number and speed: 1. John Andretti, 14, 180.222; 2. Jeff Gordon, 24, 178.968; 3. Ward Burton, 0, 178.701; 4. Greg Biffle, 16, 178.371; 5. Terry Labonte, 5, 176.962; 6. Greg Sacks, 13, 173.678.
Top-5 showing driver, car number and speed: 1. Jimmie Johnson, 48, 176.678; 2. Mike Bliss, 20, 176.378; 3. Robby Gordon, 55, 176.056; 4. Kyle Busch, 5, 175.308; 5. Bobby Labonte, 19, 175.137.