Indianapolis Tuesday test report

INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, July 11, 2000 -- NASCAR Winston Cup Series veterans Johnny Benson and Joe Nemechek came within fractions of a second of the track record Tuesday as Chevrolet and Pontiac drivers began the first of two days of ...

INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, July 11, 2000 -- NASCAR Winston Cup Series veterans Johnny Benson and Joe Nemechek came within fractions of a second of the track record Tuesday as Chevrolet and Pontiac drivers began the first of two days of pre-Brickyard 400 testing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Benson was clocked at 179.481 mph in his Tyler Jet Motorsports Pontiac. That's only .131 of an mph slower than Jeff Gordon's official mark set Aug. 5, 1999, when he won his third Brickyard 400 pole. The difference in time was 50.108 seconds for Gordon, 50.145 for Benson. Nemechek also topped the 179-mph barrier with a speed of 179.345 in his Andy Petree Racing Chevrolet. Seven other drivers turned times in the 178-mph range in preparation for the seventh annual Brickyard 400 on Aug. 5. Third and fourth on the speed chart, respectively, were Ken Schrader at 178.914 and Geoffrey Bodine at 178.913. Rounding out the top 10 speeds were: Jerry Nadeau, 178.713; Ward Burton, 178.484; Rick Mast, 178.311; Benson, 178.051 in his primary car, and Kenny Wallace, 177.903. Bobby Labonte, Winston Cup points leader, turned only the 20th fastest overall lap Tuesday at 176.127 mph. Dale Earnhardt, Labonte's closest challenger in points and 1995 Brickyard 400 winner, was fifth fastest at 178.869 mph. Earnhardt, trailing Labonte by 45 points, is bidding to break a tie with legendary Richard Petty and win his eighth Winston Cup championship. Gordon, who has won three of six Brickyard poles and two of the races, clocked in at 177.491. A second day of testing will be conducted Wednesday. Ford drivers, including Dale Jarrett, defending champion of both the Brickyard 400 and the Winston Cup Series, will get their chance to test at the famed 2½-mile oval next Monday and Tuesday. Tuesday's testing was done under overcast skies and with a somber mood within the garages. Immediately following close of the track, many of the drivers attended a viewing held for fellow driver Kenny Irwin, who was killed in a practice crash last Friday at New Hampshire International Speedway. He was an Indianapolis native, and the viewing took place at a church on the city's northeast side. Tony Stewart, 1999 NASCAR Rookie of the Year, raced against Irwin over the years in area USAC races and in NASCAR Winston Cup. "He worked really hard to get to this level," Stewart said of Irwin. "He was always a hands-on guy. He could probably have built a Winston Cup car from scratch if he had to; I couldn't. That shows how dedicated he was to the sport and to auto racing. He always was working on his own race cars and making decisions on what to change. He was probably one of the most focused guys at the racetrack. "I guarantee you I'd do anything I could to bring him back right now. It was a lot of fun racing with him. It was frustrating at times, but that's just because we were so competitive with each other. But I'd much rather have him here, and I'd do anything I could to get him back right now." Funeral services for Irwin will take place at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Abundant Life Church in Indianapolis. The day's testing schedule has been rearranged so NASCAR personnel and drivers can attend. Testing will be held from 8 to 9:30 a.m., then resume at noon. <pre> TOP 25 DRIVERS FROM GENERAL MOTORS TESTING (July 11, 2000) (Only driver's' fastest speed of day listed) Pos. Name (Car number) Time Speed 1. Johnny Benson* 50.145 179.481 2. Joe Nemechek 50.183 179.345 3. Ken Schrader 50.304 178.914 4. Geoffrey Bodine* 50.304 178.913 5. Dale Earnhardt* 50.316 178.869 6. Jerry Nadeau* 50.360 178.713 7. Ward Burton* 50.424 178.484 8. Rick Mast* 50.474 178.311 9. Kenny Wallace 50.589 177.903 10. Jeff Gordon 50.707 177.491 11. Mike Bliss 50.782 177.227 12. Tony Stewart* 50.926 176.727 13. Sterling Marlin* 50.964 176.595 14. Rich Bickle* 51.004 176.457 15. Bobby Labonte* 51.044 176.320 16. Michael Waltrip 51.115 176.072 17. John Andretti 51.321 175.675 18. Bobby Hamilton* 51.254 175.597 19. Kyle Petty 51.311 175.402 20. Dave Marcis 51.342 175.296 21. Dave Blaney* 51.399 175.100 22. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 51.416 175.044 23. Mike Skinner 51.562 174.548 24. Ricky Craven* 51.627 174.326 25. Terry Labonte 52.168 172.521 * -- Backup car

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Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , John Andretti , Rich Bickle , Ward Burton , Jeff Gordon , Bobby Hamilton , Dale Jarrett , Bobby Labonte , Terry Labonte , Tony Stewart , Michael Waltrip , Mike Skinner , Geoffrey Bodine , Kyle Petty , Ken Schrader , Joe Nemechek , Kenny Wallace , Sterling Marlin , Jerry Nadeau , Johnny Benson , Ricky Craven , Dave Marcis , Rick Mast , Richard Petty , Andy Petree , Mike Bliss , Dave Blaney