NASCAR Preseason Thunder Day 1: Reighning Champion Truex Feels Early Pressure From Peers DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 22, 2005) -- As the reigning NASCAR Busch Series champion, Martin Truex Jr. (No. 8 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) is a literal moving...
NASCAR Preseason Thunder Day 1: Reighning Champion Truex Feels Early Pressure From Peers
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 22, 2005) -- As the reigning NASCAR Busch Series champion, Martin Truex Jr. (No. 8 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) is a literal moving target for his competitors.
Not only did Truex win the title in his first full season in the series, but he also had tremendous success at NASCAR's flagship venue, Daytona International Speedway, in the process. Truex won the pole for last year's season-opener at Daytona in his first visit to the track, then finished third in the July event at the 2.5-mile superspeedway.
One year later, those results have set the bar of expectation even higher for the 24-year-old native of Mayetta, N.J. They have also become an even bigger bulls-eye for his competitors.
Clint Bowyer (No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet), who will run his first full season in the NASCAR Busch Series for Richard Childress Racing, made his presence felt immediately by posting the fastest time of the day during NASCAR Preseason Thunder at Daytona, the annual preseason test sessions for NASCAR's three national series. Bowyer turned a lap of 181.554 mph during Saturday's opening single-car session for the NASCAR Busch Series.
"[Being fastest of the day] was important for our team's morale," the 24-year-old Bowyer said. "We're trying to turn things around at RCR."
Boston Reid (No. 5 Lowe's Chevrolet), 22, has the look of yet another young Hendrick Motorsports driver ready to make his mark in the NASCAR Busch Series. Reid was fifth-fastest of the day at 181.463 mph in his first effort at Daytona. "I've never [even] seen a stock car race here," Reid said. "This was my first time on the track. Getting around this place was unbelievable and it's an unbelievable dream to take laps here.
"[Crew chief] Jim Long and I are trying to prepare the best car we can," he said. Reid will share duties in the No. 5 with Blake Feese this season, however 19-year-old Kyle Busch, last year's runner-up in the NASCAR Busch Series championship, will have the ride at Daytona for the Feb. 19 Hershey's TAKE 5 300. Although the speeds are from the first day of testing, and a race has yet to be run, Truex fully understands the scope of his competition and respects the challenge ahead of him in 2005. "I don't feel confident about defending my title because of the two new tracks (Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City and Watkins Glen International)," Truex said. "But it (repeating as NASCAR Busch Series champion) is a goal of mine."
NEWS OF NOTE
On tap for Sunday ... Media covering Day 11 of NASCAR Preseason Thunder are scheduled to meet with FitzBradshaw Racing teammates David Stremme (No. 14 U.S. NAVY Dodge) and Tim Fedewa (No. 12 Supercuts Dodge) at the start of the lunch break from Noon -- 12:20 p.m. Stacy Compton (No. 59 Kingsford/Ball Park Franks Ford) and Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate Reed Sorenson (No. 41 Discount Tire Company Dodge) are slated from 12:30 -- 12:50 p.m., while Kim Crosby (No. 24 Boudreaux's Butt Paste Chevrolet) and Christi Passmore (No. 50 Vassarette Chevrolet) -- both attempting to join Patty Moise and Shawna Robinson as the only female drivers to run a full schedule in the NASCAR Busch Series -- will attend the afternoon session along with the fastest of the day (if not part of the schedule).
Green absent from Saturday's lineup ... David Green (No. 27 KLEENEX Ford), the 1994 NASCAR Busch Series champion, was a late scratch from Saturday's opening day of NASCAR Busch Series Preseason Thunder testing due to a bout with kidney stones. Green made an attempt to meet with media members prior to the start of the morning session, but excused himself after the pain became too intense. "I've dealt with this issue before, back in 2003," Green said before heading to the Infield Care Center. "We'll just get it taken care of and get back out on the track. It's a good thing it's testing and not the race," he said. "I think we have a car that's really stout." Aaron Fike, who will split time this season with 2002 NASCAR Busch Series champion Greg Biffle in the No. 66 Duraflame Ford, drove for Green during Saturday's session.
Saturday's testing delayed due to fog ... Saturday's 2005 NASCAR Busch Series testing debut at Daytona was delayed two hours -- from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. -- due to heavy fog around the 2.5-mile track. Once underway, the test was continuous for the 46 teams involved from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. so as to make up for time lost during the morning session. Single-car runs comprised the first five hours of the session, while the last hour of the day concentrated on drafting.
Jourdain makes debut at Daytona ... Michel Jourdain Jr., (No. 10 ppc Racing Ford), a two-time winner in Champ Car competition during his nine-year series career, made his NASCAR debut at Daytona International Speedway Saturday during Preseason Thunder. Jourdain, a teammate of Kenny Wallace (No. 22 Stacker 2 Ford) with ppc Racing, hopes to become the first Hispanic driver to run a full season in the NASCAR Busch Series. "I enjoyed it a lot, the car was a lot of fun," Jourdain said following his first laps at DIS. "Everyone is so good here, they have a lot of experience," he said. "I've always had a lot of respect for these guys. It's a completely different world [driving in NASCAR and driving in Champ Car.]" Jourdain hopes to make his NASCAR Busch Series debut at Daytona or at California Speedway in the season's second race before returning to familiar ground in his native Mexico City when he participates in the Mexico 200 on March 6 at his "home" track -- the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez road course -- in the series' first points race outside the United States.
Saturday's fastest driver ... Clint Bowyer was the fastest of the day during Saturday's Preseason Thunder single-car runs. Bowyer posted a high speed of 181.554 m.p.h. in the four-hour session. Justin Labonte (No. 44 U.S. Coast Guard Chevrolet) was the quickest during the draft, which took place during the final hour of the testing session.
What: NASCAR Preseason Thunder -- NASCAR Busch Series.
Where: Daytona International Speedway.
When: Jan. 22-24.
Track layout: 2.5-mile tri-oval superspeedway.
Test schedule: 9 a.m. Noon; 1 -- 5 p.m. each day, weather permitting.