DEI Gets A Helping Hand During Winston Cup Test Session DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (Jan. 15, 2002) * Kerry Earnhardt is lending a helping hand to Dale Earnhardt Inc. during this week's Winston Cup testing at Daytona International Speedway in...
DEI Gets A Helping Hand During Winston Cup Test Session
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (Jan. 15, 2002) * Kerry Earnhardt is lending a helping hand to Dale Earnhardt Inc. during this week's Winston Cup testing at Daytona International Speedway in preparation for the 44th annual Daytona 500 on Feb. 17.
The 32-year-old Earnhardt, the son of the late Dale Earnhardt and the older brother of Dale Earnhardt Jr., was testing the No. 81 Chevrolet for DEI and assisted Michael Waltrip's No. 15 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, the other DEI team car attending the test.
"This is actually a Pennzoil (No. 1) speedway car," Earnhardt said. "DEI owns No. 81 now. We may run some races with the No. 81 in Cup and we may not. I don't know yet. We're just down here trying to get some seat time for me and help my guys learn a little bit in aero stuff."
Earnhardt's fast lap of the day was a 181.609 mph, while Jerry Nadeau was the fastest of Tuesday's test session with a lap of 182.905 mph. Rounding out the top five were defending Daytona 500 champion Michael Waltrip (182.319), Jeremy Mayfield (182.046), Bill Elliott (181.943) and Casey Atwood (181.903).
At this time, Earnhardt doesn't have any plans to enter the Daytona 500, even if he finishes this week's test with a top-five speed. He's staying focused on his Busch Series ride this year with FitzBradshaw Racing and the No. 12 Supercuts Chevrolet.
The team, owned by Armando Fitz and NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw, will compete in at least 20 races and hopes to increase its schedule. DEI will assist the team in several areas, including engines and fabrication.
Earnhardt, who has been competing in the ARCA RE/MAX Series the past two years and posting victories, will be joined by Earnhardt Jr. in the season-opening Feb. 16 EAS/GNC Live Well 300 At Daytona. Earnhardt Jr. will be wheeling the No. 3 Oreo Chevrolet in a joint effort between Richard Childress Racing and DEI.
"That's going to be real exciting," Earnhardt said about racing against his brother Dale Jr. "I've been looking forward to racing against him. We did one (Winston Cup) deal in Michigan (in 2000) and I messed up. I did only about five or six laps in that race with dad and Dale Jr. both. I was excited about racing with them, but I wasn't ready to do it.
"(Dale Jr.) is just another competitor out there, but it's fun racing knowing he's out there and I'm out there."
Winston Cup testing will continue on Wednesday and is free and open to the public with access to the Oldfield Grandstand through the lobby of DAYTONA USA.
Tickets for Speedweeks 2002 events are available online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling the Speedway ticket office at (386) 253-7223.
* Early in the test session, Bill Elliott blistered a fast lap of 187.052 mph, which caught everybody's eye the garage. But the lap was removed from the speed chart when it was revealed that the team accidently was using a 15/16th restrictor plate instead of the mandated 7/8th.
* Defending Daytona 500 champion Michael Waltrip was walking around the garage area this morning in his driver's suit and sneakers. Some of his racing gear, including his driver's helmet and driver's shoes, were accidently left in North Carolina by the team and arrived just in time for the beginning of Tuesday's test session, which began around 11 a.m.
* Indiana native Andy Hillenburg is subbing for Ricky Rudd in the No. 28 Texaco-Havoline Ford fielded by Robert Yates Racing during this week's test session. Rudd, who underwent arthroscopic back surgery in the off-season, is sitting out the test session so he can be completely healthy for Speedweeks 2002 and the Daytona 500. "I'm feel 100 percent, but I'm kind of following doctor's orders," Rudd said. "He wanted me to stay off the race track as much as I could before the season gets cranked up and, hopefully, I won't ever have a recurrence of that injury."