By David Reininger - Motorsport.com Fort Worth, Tex. (October 13, 2000) - Jeff Ward set the fastest lap of the day at Texas Motor Speedway while practicing for Sunday's Excite 500. Ward turned 11 laps in the second practice session in his ...
By David Reininger - Motorsport.com
Fort Worth, Tex. (October 13, 2000) - Jeff Ward set the fastest lap of the day at Texas Motor Speedway while practicing for Sunday's Excite 500. Ward turned 11 laps in the second practice session in his Harrah's A. J. Foyt Racing Oldsmobile-powered G Force, nudging Greg Ray off the top of the speed charts by 12 one-thousands of a second at 215.343 mph.
"We had a practice motor in today, and we had a lot of drafting help," said Ward. "Tomorrow, when guys go out to qualify by themselves, we'll see who has the speed."
Greg Ray was fastest in the first session driving his primary Conseco Quaker State Menards Dallara powered by Oldsmobile to a lap at 215.237 mph. Ray drove both the primary and back up cars in the first session, ending the day second on the day's speed chart with his best lap in the primary car.
"We had a lot of help out there," Ray admitted. "On our fastest lap, the drafting really helped us. We're not going to know how fast anybody is until they're out there on the track by themselves."
The defending series champion enters this race 11th in points, scoring a single victory at Atlanta this season. "There is no question that after last year when we won three times and won the championship that we can't feel disappointed by this season. All you can do is reflect on what we've done, learn from it, remember what it was like on the good days and hope things get better next year."
Scott Goodyear ended the day third on the speed chart after turning 100 laps in his Pennzoil Panther Oldsmobile-powered Dallara. His best lap came in the first session at a speed of 214.637 mph, .080 seconds behind Ward.
Davey Hamilton, a last minute entry in the Western Star Trucks Petro Moly Special, was fourth fastest on the day, setting his best lap in the second session. Hamilton jumped to a best lap of 214.312 in the second session after running 212.271 mph in the early session.
Fifth fastest on the day, in the Team Mexmil Tokheim Viking Air Tools Oldsmobile-powered G Force, was Stephan Gregoire. Gregoire gained over one mph in the second session with his best of the day at 213.909 mph. "It was a very good session for us," said Gregoire. "First of all, we found out what the problem we finished the first session with was. It was a bad set of tires, I believe, so now everything is back to normal."
"I am pretty happy with my speed and the handling of the car. It is very good in traffic, but for some reason not so good when I run on my own. So we have to make it better. But we will make it better and be ready to run even faster tomorrow."
Buddy Lazier, who has to finish 13th or better to clinch the Northern Light Cup and the one million dollar award that goes with it, was 11th fastest today. Lazier went 212.650 mph in the first session, improving to 213.152 in the second session.
"We've got to finish 13th or better to make sure we accomplish our goals. And sometimes that's really hard to do in this series. I feel very good because I have an awesome race team backing me up. It gives me a lot of confidence. We're a little nervous, but at the same time, we feel like we got what we need to accomplish our goals."
Jeret Schroeder, 12th fastest overall, was the fastest rookie on the day with a lap at 212.987 mph. Schroeder trails Airton Dare by two points in the Racesearch.com Rookie of the Year award.
"Practice went pretty well today," Schroeder said. We missed the gearing a little bit. With this wind we had to change the gears in the session, which kind of hurt us a little bit."
Drivers faced a strong head wind on the front stretch and a tail wind on the backstretch, sending teams mixed messages as they tried to determine which gears to use on race day.
Dare, who leads the rookie standings, was 18th fastest today, circling the speedway at an average speed of 212.219 mph.
In the only incident of the day, Robby McGehee crashed in turn four during the second practice session. He was removed from the car and taken to the infield medical center where he was examined and released. He has not yet been cleared to drive. Dr. Bock, IRL Director of Medical Services, will examine McGehee in the morning to determine his driving status.
Practice for Sunday's Excite 500 continues at 9:00 a.m Saturday morning with MBNA Pole Qualifying getting underway at noon.