The Ford manufacturer's test concluded at Daytona International Speedway on Wednesday, as all 20 teams were granted three hours of practice time to compensate for lost activities on Monday due to inclement weather. The morning's activities were...
The Ford manufacturer's test concluded at Daytona International Speedway on Wednesday, as all 20 teams were granted three hours of practice time to compensate for lost activities on Monday due to inclement weather. The morning's activities were mixed with some teams choosing to focus on qualifying runs at the onset, while others used the entire session for drafting experience. However, most teams used the final hour to practice drafting, and the fastest speeds of the week were posted during the final 10 minutes as a six-car pack circled the 2.5-mile tri-oval. Kurt Busch took advantage of his first drafting session in a Winston Cup car to post the most laps and the second fastest time of the session. Jeff Burton improved significantly posting the session's fifth fastest time, while Mark Martin and Matt Kenseth finished sixth and eighth, respectively.
Kurt Busch, No. 97 Roush Racing Ford Taurus (2nd quickest, 48.001 seconds, 187.496 mph): "We made a lot of laps today. I think we doubled the laps of anyone else and that's what we needed to do - gain some laps. We worked with some of the other Roush cars and some of the other Fords in the draft. We have a lot of work still ahead of us before February, but we came here with a basic car and if we can go back to the shop with our ideas and apply them to the car, we can put on a good show at Speed Weeks. We're going to work on the aero package, and I learned a few things to do in the draft and a few not to do. Of course, you're never going to outsmart these veterans; they've been doing it for a long while. I'll take a few of the pointers I picked up today to some of the other Roush drivers and see what they have to say. It's so early, I don't know how much respect I earned; it was more of staying out of their way. We've got another week of running before the (Daytona) 500 to gain more respect on this track and in the draft."
Jeff Burton, No. 99 CITGO SUPERGARD Ford Taurus (5th quickest, 48.510 seconds, 185.529 mph): "This was fun. It gets me back into the spirit of wanting to go racing. It's a lot of fun when it's only 10 cars out there, but when you get 30, that's when it gets tense. We had the fastest car is qualifying trim today, and in race trim we ran good, so we're pretty happy. I think the whole Roush team did a good job of working together. (Kurt) Busch did a good job out there today working in the draft. He's got a lot to learn, but sometimes knowledge can be a bad thing. We tested really well here last year, and that makes this test a tough comparison. I think Roush as an organization had a good test. I don't want to say that when we come back here for the Daytona 500 that we're going to run well because there are so many things that can happen. I feel real confident and good about what we learned and what we accomplished this week."
Mark Martin, No. 6 Viagra Ford Taurus (6th quickest, 48.544 seconds, 185.399 mph) "I think today was about what we expected. We are going to go into the Daytona 500 and Speed Weeks without any surprises. And, we don't expect any surprises between now and then. We need to go back to the shop and find some black magic. If we can find that black magic speed, we'll be good. We've really worked hard on all the parts we know we can tweak and exhausted most of the areas, but there is some black magic left in this race car, and hopefully we'll find it. We're in better shape than we were last year. As far as Fords are concerned, all of our cars are close to the top of the heap. We'll have to see how that stacks up to the other manufacturers, but we're not that far down. Last year we were down pretty good and had to wrestle our way back into the (Daytona) 500. We're sitting pretty good right now, and we'll see if we can't get some more."
Matt Kenseth, No. 17 DEWALT Tools Ford Taurus (8th quickest, 48.586 seconds, 185.239 mph): "It felt good to run some laps, but we're not quite happy with our car. It ran the same in qualifying trim as it did in race trim, so we do think that we have a balanced car. We'll come back and we have a whole week to draft, so it wasn't that big of a deal. We were mainly trying to test some different radiators and things like that to see how our car would cool, so it was a good test session for that. I think we're just going to take this car home, paint it and bring it back. We're pretty happy with the aerodynamic package, but we need to work on the handling a little. If everything is equal when we come back, hopefully we can post some decent speeds and put together a good qualifying run. We have a lot faster car this year than last year, however. Last year we usually didn't have fast speedway cars, so we worked really hard to put together a good speedway car in the off-season. Hopefully that means we'll be competitive for the Daytona 500."