DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 14, 2000) The full field of NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series vehicles at Daytona International Speedway Friday for a two-day test session took a while to collectively get up to speed, but three pilots with surnames beginning in "C" had no such trouble.
Only 36 of the 46 teams on hand got their trucks on the 2.5-mile high-banked trioval on Friday, but in the last 15 minutes of the day veterans Terry Cook and Rick Crawford drafted their Chevrolet and Ford, respectively, to the front of the time sheet.
Cook led the way in his No. 88 SealMaster Racing Chevrolet with a lap in 48.636 seconds, an average speed of 185.048 mph, on his 40th lap of the day. Crawford was just a tick behind and was the only other driver to eclipse 184 mph. His Milwaukee Electric Tool Ford was timed at 48.646 seconds, an average speed of 185.010 mph.
While that pair was pretty thrilled with their effort in the first day of the final two-day prep session for the season opening NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series 250 at Daytona on Feb. 18, the third-fastest man was absolutely ecstatic.
Rick Carelli had been back in a race truck since missing the last two-thirds of the 1999 season with multiple injuries suffered in an accident at Memphis Motorsports Park on May 8, but that was only in trial runs at the end of last season that resulted in him being named to drive the No. 66 Carlin Burners & Controls Ford.
On Friday, Carelli was burning as he turned a lap of 48.992 seconds, an average speed of 183.703 mph. Rounding out the top-5 speeds were two-time and defending NCTS champion Jack Sprague in the No. 24 GMAC Financial Services Chevrolet at 49.003/183.662 and surprising road race convert Rob Morgan, who was in the No. 46 Acxiom/Compaq Ford at 49.107/183.273.
"There's not a whole lot to do here at Daytona," said Carelli, who has previous experience here in NASCAR Winston Cup cars. "You just ride around and the truck's doing all the work. Right now, by yourself there's not a whole lot to do, but with a bunch of trucks around you it'll be a handful."
But compared with what Carelli and his family went through to get him back to this point, he appears to be up to the challenge.
"Nothing last year was easy," he said of his successful season-to-be, including a win on the short track at Mesa Marin Raceway. "You can't describe how lucky I am to be here."
Rounding out the top-10 speeds on Friday were Mike Cope and Joe Ruttman in Dodges, Greg Biffle in a Ford and Andy Houston and Jimmy Hensley in Chevrolets.
The only incident to mar the day of running occurred when John Young spun the Brevak Racing Ford in Turn 2. He made no contact and continued running. Wayne Edwards reportedly blew the engine in his No. 77 Chevrolet, prematurely ending his test.
The test will conclude on Saturday. A section of the Oldfield Grandstand will be open at no charge from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with access through DAYTONA USA.