BUSCH: Mike Wallace fastest in first day of Daytona test

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (Jan. 20, 2003) - Preseason Thunder continued on Monday at Daytona International Speedway and Mike Wallace is still going fast. Wallace, the fastest driver after two weeks of Winston Cup testing (184.053 mph) wheeling the No.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (Jan. 20, 2003) - Preseason Thunder continued on Monday at Daytona International Speedway and Mike Wallace is still going fast.

Wallace, the fastest driver after two weeks of Winston Cup testing (184.053 mph) wheeling the No. 09 Miccosukee Indian Gaming Dodge for Phoenix Racing, was also the fastest driver after the first day of testing for odd-numbered teams in the 2002 NASCAR Busch Series owner's standings.

Driving the No. 4 Geico Pontiac, Wallace posted a fast lap of 183.255 mph as he prepares for the season-opening Koolerz 300 on Feb. 15.

"We had egg on our face when we left last (February)," Wallace said. "We were quick in practice and we ended up missing the race. Believe it or not, we found out today probably why we missed the race. Hopefully, we got that out of our way and we're ready to run good.

"We kept picking away, picking away. We went one speed, then backed up and then went forward and forward. I was really surprised at the last change that it picked us up a tenth and a half."

Wallace, who has posted both an ARCA RE/MAX Series and a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory at Daytona, is excited about all of his testing success at Daytona during Preseason Thunder.

"It brings a lot of momentum to the organization," Wallace said. "Anytime you can go somewhere and you know that you've legitimately run a good speed, you didn't do anything to run the number, it makes you very comfortable with the whole group. We're coming back with that Cup car thinking we've got a shot at sitting on the pole (for the Daytona 500). Those guys are working in that direction."

Wallace will enter not only the Daytona 500 and the Koolerz 300, but he'll also race in the Florida Dodge Dealers 250 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season opener driving a truck fielded by Ken Schrader.

Rounding out the top five in testing on Monday was rookie Chad Blount (183.191), Michael Waltrip (182.957), Kasey Kahne (182.860) and Kevin Harvick (182.622).

Harvick a busy driver: Kevin Harvick will be the busiest driver during Speedweeks 2003 at Daytona International Speedway.

Races on Harvick's schedule during Speedweeks include the Daytona 500 (Feb. 16), the Koolerz 300 NASCAR Busch Series season opener (Feb. 15), Round 1 of the True Value IROC Series (Feb. 14), the Gatorade 125's (Feb. 13), Bud Pole Qualifying for the Daytona 500 (Feb. 9) and the Budweiser Shootout (Feb. 8).

Harvick will also be atop his pit box during the Feb. 14 Florida Dodge Dealers 250 as an owner. He'll field a truck in the season opener of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series for driver Ed Berrier.

"Just winning anything, whether it's IROC or a truck race as an owner or a Busch race or a Winston Cup race or a Budweiser Shootout. Just winning at Daytona is important," Harvick said. "Whether it's any of those or a 125 or anything."

Staying busy racing is just the way Harvick likes it. In 2003, he plans on racing limited schedules in both the NASCAR Busch Series and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, defend his True Value IROC championship and compete full time in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series in the No. 29 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing.

"I think I'm better when I race more," Harvick said. 'I'm more in to what's going on. You don't have time to loose track of what's working and what's not working. It's important to me to be in the race car."

Harvick has been close to victory in the Koolerz 300. In his two starts in 2000 and 2001, Harvick has finished fifth and second.

"We led quite a few laps," Harvick said of his runner-up finish in 2001. "We finished probably where we should have finished. I should have actually won the first race (in 2000) if I had any clue what I was doing the first time I came down here to race. I went high and nobody went with me."

DAYTONA USA fan forum: Bobby Hamilton Jr., Hank Parker Jr., and Scott Riggs will participate in a fan forum inside DAYTONA USA on Tuesday. The drivers will answer fans' questions beginning at 12:10 p.m.

Etc. * All NASCAR Preseason Thunder 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.

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