Skinner fastest in day one at Daytona

Mike Skinner fastest in day one at NASCAR Preseason Thunder. Kodak Pontiac driver posts top lap at Daytona International Speedway. DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 7, 2003) - Mike Skinner is off and running. Running toward a 2003 season that abounds...

Mike Skinner fastest in day one at NASCAR Preseason Thunder.
Kodak Pontiac driver posts top lap at Daytona International Speedway.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 7, 2003) - Mike Skinner is off and running.

Running toward a 2003 season that abounds with optimism, and running away from a disappointing 2002 season.

Tuesday he ran fast - faster than any other driver taking part in Day One of NASCAR Preseason Thunder, the annual preseason testing sessions at Daytona International Speedway that plays host to the season-opening Daytona 500.

Skinner, driver of the No. 4 Kodak Max Pontiac, finished 31st in last season's NASCAR Winston Cup Series points, but was first on Tuesday's final speed chart after morning and afternoon sessions on the 2.5-mile superspeedway. Skinner's fast lap was 182.767 mph, coming in the afternoon. He also was fastest in the morning session, at 181.837.

"Our team has obviously done a lot of work over the winter," said Skinner, who has switched from Chevrolet to Pontiac this season. "I'm very proud of all the guys [on our team]. This business has gotten to where we all have pretty much the same parts and pieces. It's all about people and technology.

"The car felt good all day and I think the car will go faster. I don't think it will go a whole lot faster, but I think it will go faster than it did today."

Skinner edged reigning NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet). Stewart had Tuesday's second-best lap, 182.020, that coming in the afternoon. Elliott Sadler (No. 38 M&Ms Ford) was third fastest at 181.646.

Michael Waltrip (No. 15 NAPA Chevrolet), the 2001 Daytona 500 champion, was fourth fastest at 181.543. Rusty Wallace (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge), the 1989 series champion still seeking his first Daytona 500 victory, was fifth fastest at 181.452.

NEWS OF NOTE

On tap for tomorrow ... Media covering Day 2 of NASCAR Preseason Thunder on Wednesday at Daytona International Speedway will meet with NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Stewart and his crew chief Greg Zipadelli (8:30 a.m.); at 12:10 p.m. Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) will visit the infield media center, followed by Jamie McMurray (No. 42 Havoline Dodge) at 12:30 p.m. At 5:15 p.m., the fastest driver of the day will make an appearance; at 5:30, the daily "wild-card" driver will be rookie Casey Mears, McMurray's teammate and a recent addition to Chip Ganassi's driving lineup.

Jerry Nadeau was a highlight of Day One of NASCAR Preseason Thunder, as he shared stories of his Dec. 28-Jan. 4 visit to Afghanistan and Kuwait. Nadeau has a new team for 2003, the U.S. Army-sponsored No. 01 Pontiac. Nadeau visited military bases in the region, and said he was greeted warmly by troops who were obviously gearing up for possible future engagement. "It was a long trip - a real long trip," Nadeau said. "I spent two days in Kuwait. I was eight miles from Iraq and I was on the front line [driving] a tank. The tank handled pretty good * they've got good brakes. My dad served in the Army. I think if I wasn't racing, that would be a really cool career to go through."

The Daytona International Speedway has an online media center available. The Speedway's online media center is your best source for Speedweeks testing and events, including photos, time and scoring information, quotes, video news release schedules and much more. Go to www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com/media.

The next DAYTONA USA fan forum is schedule for Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. and will feature Roush Racing's Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth and Jeff Burton. During this week's NASCAR Winston Cup test sessions, admission to DAYTONA USA is reduced to $10 and that includes the fan forum and other attraction activities.

All the testing sessions are open and free to the public with access to a section of the Oldfield Grandstand available through the lobby of DAYTONA USA. Tickets to Speedweeks 2003 events are available online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling the Speedway ticket office at (386) 253-7223.

-dis-

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Michael Waltrip , Mike Skinner , Jerry Nadeau , Kurt Busch , Casey Mears , Jimmie Johnson , Jamie McMurray , Elliott Sadler