Daytona Preseason Thunder, day 4 report

Eyes In The Sky: Former NASCAR Busch Series Champion Spotting For Ex-Rival * Mission Accomplished: Toyota Teams Pleased With Historic First Test * On The Mend: Dale Jarrett Recovered From Surgery On Left Hand * Jeff Green Runs Week's Fastest...

Eyes In The Sky: Former NASCAR Busch Series Champion Spotting For Ex-Rival

* Mission Accomplished: Toyota Teams Pleased With Historic First Test

* On The Mend: Dale Jarrett Recovered From Surgery On Left Hand

* Jeff Green Runs Week's Fastest Lap At 186.722 MPH

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 11, 2007) -- They're separated by 25 years and three full seasons, but the pairing of Brian Vickers (No. 83 Red Bull Toyota) and David Green summons fresh memories -- even with one in a race car and the other's voice in his ears.

Both former NASCAR Busch Series champions, Vickers, 23, and Green, 48, have worked in tandem during this week's NASCAR Jackson Hewitt Preseason Thunder testing at Daytona International Speedway.

Thursday marked the final day of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series' first preseason session, with Green providing the soundtrack to Vickers' endless laps. It's a role the former enjoys, even as he yearns for the driver's seat.

"That's something I look at for when I hang my helmet up," Green said of spotting.

"I want to help a young driver."

Flash back four years -- and 260 miles south -- when the then-20-year-old Vickers became NASCAR's youngest national series champion. He captured the 2003 NASCAR Busch Series crown following the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, fending off Green, the 1994 series champion.

The margin between champion and runner-up? Fourteen points.

"It's always fun to hang out with him," Green said of Vickers. "But I still get a little bit ticked at him because he beat me for the championship in '03. A lot of people remember that. So as soon as I think I'm having a lot of fun with him -- which I do -- I remember he beat me.

"But that's okay. We have a lot of good things to talk about, and a lot of good times to talk about."

Green hopes to be back in a NASCAR Busch Series seat soon. He's working on a program with the new Riley-D'Hondt Motorsports, and was happy to assist Vickers this week. Former fellow NASCAR Busch Series competitor Elton Sawyer, now Team Red Bull's competition director, made the request, an assignment that includes the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup preseason test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Jan 29-30.

After leaving Brewco Motorsports near the end of last season, Green spotted for David Gilliland (No. 38 M&M's Ford) for eight races. He's also spotted for Dale Jarrett (No. 44 UPS Toyota) and Hendrick Motorsports' NASCAR Busch Series team during his NASCAR career.

"We're just knocking off the rust as a group," he said of this week's Daytona test.That's

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A Wrap: Toyota Pleased With First Test ... It ended quietly, amid Thursday's sunshine and stiff coastal breezes, but Toyota's first preseason test at Daytona didn't escape notice. The 2007 season marks the manufacturer's first in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, and program manager Andy Graves says all the past few months' furious shop work paid off at the track.

"We've got a lot of work to do and we're not where we want to be yet," Graves said, "but we understand it's going to take a little time."

Three-time Daytona 500 champion Dale Jarrett (No. 44 UPS Toyota), now driving for Michael Waltrip Racing, was the group's fastest during the three-and-a-half-day session -- a top composite speed of 48.253 seconds (186.517 mph) that also was the test's third-fastest lap. Dave Blaney (No. 22 Caterpillar Toyota) of Bill Davis Racing turned in the 12th-fastest lap at 48.289 seconds (186.378 mph), and Brian Vickers was 20th-fastest at 48.616 seconds (185.124 mph).

"We probably exceeded some of our expectations," Jarrett said. "We got a lot of work accomplished and these guys did a terrific job, especially their first test working together. We were very pleased with everything we saw."

As for history, Graves admitted some anxiety Monday morning, when the first laps were laid. But Thursday, with reliability and competitive fears relieved, Graves said the three Toyota teams who participated in the first of two annual series tests at Daytona have set a solid baseline.

"It's been pretty good," Graves said. "We've been shooting updates back and forth email-wise and everyone's pretty pleased, but everyone's got their heads down back home as well, in North Carolina and Costa Mesa, California working, hard. We're going to have to really work hard right up until it's time to load up and come down here to make sure we give the teams the best equipment possible."

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Jarrett Tests Surgically Repaired Left Hand ... Cars weren't the only items Dale Jarrett shook down during this week's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup test at Daytona. A new grip came courtesy of some off-season surgery on his left hand -- medical work necessitated by an injury he suffered last June at Infineon Raceway.

This week marked Jarrett's first on-the-job test of the repaired hand, and he's pleased, though a bit pained.

"It's actually been hurting this week just because I haven't used it in this type of situation until now," he said Thursday. "It seems to be getting better every day."

The slight fracture refused to heal properly over the season's second half. So a tip from Senior PGA pro Walter Hall -- rendered during Jarrett's annual charity golf tournament -- sent him to Baltimore-based surgeon Dr. Thomas Graham the week following last season's finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Graham re-attached ligaments to the damaged "hook of the hamate bone" on Jarrett's outer palm.

And while the injury didn't affect Jarrett's on-track driving, it negated the golf-course kind. A serious golfer with an accompanying handicap, he's hoping to pick up clubs again very soon.

"He told me I'd probably never be able to bench 400 pounds again, which is good since I never did that anyway," Jarrett said of his surgeon. "But, he said I should be able to swing a golf club and have the grip I need to do that by early March or even late February, and I'll be glad when I can do that again, that's for certain."

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Pit Stops: Around The Daytona Garage

Study Hall: Teams Take Advantage of Thursday Session ... Brought on by Monday afternoon rains, Thursday's four-hour session wrapped up the first week of testing for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.

Sixteen of 26 teams stayed, working from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.

"One thing about testing is, it's testing," said NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series director John Darby, "and when you leave a test, you know what you still have in your right front pocket to bring back with you when it comes time to do business. That's the mysteries that float around the garage."

The second of two series tests begins Monday, Jan. 15 and runs through Wednesday, Jan. 17. It features teams which were in odd-number positions in the 2006 car owner standings as of July 12, 2006. This week's test featured teams which were in even-number positions in the 2006 car owner standings as of July 12, 2006.

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Easy Sledding: Boris Said Back In A Stock Car ... Traveling hundreds of miles and multiple degrees of temperatures, Boris Said (No. 60 No Fear Racing Ford) returned to Daytona this week fresh off a victory in last Saturday's 2nd Annual Chevrolet Geoff Bodine Challenge, presented by Whelen Engineering.

The bobsled races, hosted by veteran NASCAR driver Geoff Bodine in Lake Placid, N.Y., are part of an effort to help the U.S. Olympic Bobsled teams. Said -- who won both Saturday events -- participated along with nine-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Mike Stefanik and two-time NASCAR Busch Series champion Randy LaJoie, among many others.

"Geoff Bodine single-handedly is turning around the whole American bobsled program with his new sled and trying to raise money, and it's a great cause," said Said, who was 10th fastest in Thursday's session (49.063 seconds/183.483 mph). "I'm hooked on it. I'm actually going to go in March to Salt Lake City and try a real bobsled and train a little bit, see how good I can do."

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ESPN The Magazine Taps Juan Pablo Montoya ... Former Indianapolis 500 champion Juan Pablo Montoya (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge), set for his first fulltime NASCAR NEXTEL Cup season for Chip Ganassi Racing, already is attracting notice. ESPN The Magazine has nominated Montoya as one of five candidates for its NEXT issue, which spotlights athletes as impact personalities in their sports. The issue hits newsstands on Jan. 31.

Montoya's competitors for the honor include the New York Mets' Jose Reyes, the Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard, former Georgia Tech receiver Calvin Johnson and the Pittsburgh Penguins' Evgeni Malkin.

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On Deck: NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Testing Jan. 12-14 ... The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will test at Daytona on Jan. 12-14 in preparation for the Feb. 16 Chevy Silverado HD 250. The three-day session includes all teams; more than 40 competitors are expected to participate.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Hendrick Motorsports , Michael Waltrip Racing , Bill Davis Racing