BUSCH: Atwood, Busch test at HOmestead

HOMESTEAD, Fla., (Oct. 25, 2000) -- Kurt Busch and Casey Atwood completed their second day of testing on Wednesday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, prepping for the Nov. 10-12 Pennzoil 400 weekend. Both Busch and Atwood are competing in limited...

HOMESTEAD, Fla., (Oct. 25, 2000) -- Kurt Busch and Casey Atwood completed their second day of testing on Wednesday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, prepping for the Nov. 10-12 Pennzoil 400 weekend. Both Busch and Atwood are competing in limited Winston Cup schedules this season in order to prepare for next year's run at Winston Cup Rookie of the Year honors.

The 24 year-old Busch, a rookie sensation in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, and Atwood, a established star at 20 years old in the NASCAR Busch Grand National Series, have landed premier rides in NASCAR's big league stock car series.

Roush Racing has promoted Busch to the driver's seat of the No. 97 Ford while Atwood is behind the No. 19 Motorola Ford for Evernham Motorsports. Next season, Atwood will take part in Dodge's return to Winston Cup by driving the new Intrepid.

Unofficially, Nemechek turned the fastest time of 21 NASCAR Winston Cup drivers during testing on Wednesday, posting a lap of 35.14 seconds.

The experience of competing in the Nov. 12 Pennzoil 400 at the 1.5-mile South Florida track is important to Busch and Atwood.

"I got a Miami 300 (Busch Series) pole here in 1998 and qualified in the top 10 last year, so I like the track," Atwood said. "I've had success since the first time I came here. It's a good track for me as a driver and I think we'll have a good run when we come back here."

Atwood will pull double duty when he returns to Miami, competing in both the Miami 300 Busch Series season finale and the Pennzoil 400.

"I always came to Florida as a kid," Atwood said. "I've always had good race cars here. Hopefully, we'll have a good qualifying effort and have a good race in both cars."

Busch has only competed once at Miami, finishing ninth earlier this year in the Craftsman Truck Series race.

"The Winston Cup car is quite a bit different," Busch said. "We're getting familiar with the car so we're best prepared as we can be for Daytona and 2001."

Besides dealing with a new car, the competition has stepped up.

"It's unbelievable," said Busch, who has already made four Winston Cup starts. "Being the best that you can is only good enough for 26th place."

The testing has gone smoothly for Busch and he's enjoying the sunshine of South Florida.

"It's gorgeous weather," Busch said. "It's similar to Las Vegas. People want to come here. People want to test here. NASCAR people want to spend time here. That's what this place has -- a great theme."

Drivers shaking down their Winston Cup machines on Wednesday included: Atwood, Busch, John Andretti, Rick Mast, Jeff Burton, Rusty Wallace, Mike Skinner, Ted Musgrave, Sterling Marlin, Terry Labonte, Jeff Gordon,

Steve Park, Robert Pressley, Wally Dallenbach, Bobby Labonte, Tony Stewart, Nemechek, Bill Elliott, Jimmy Spencer, Andy Houston and Stacy Compton.

Practicing their Busch Series cars were Kevin Harvick, Mike Dillon, Blaise Alexander, Brandon Butler and Buckshot Jones.

Fans still have an opportunity to purchase great seats to watch Busch and Atwood compete in both the Nov. 11 Miami 300 and the Nov. 12 Pennzoil 400 by calling (305) 230-RACE, by visiting any Ticketmaster Ticket Center, or by ordering online at the official web site, www.homesteadmiamispeedway.com or www.ticketmaster.com

TESTING NOTEBOOK * Joe Nemechek, driver of the No. 33 Oakwood Homes Chevrolet, is one of the more successful drivers at Miami, posting two wins, three top-five finishes and four top-10 finishes in five Busch Series starts. But his success in the Busch Series hasn't translated over to the Pennzoil 400, where Nemechek finished 21st in last year's Pennzoil 400. "Anytime I come here, I know I have a shot at winning," Nemechek said. "We have some really good race cars. You have to know what you have to work with in order to be successful. I want to race. I want to win races and that why I'm here. It's a good place to be. They'll fill grandstands up both days and that's what it's all about."

* Wally Dallenbach, driver of the No. 75 Galaxy Motorsports Ford, is an avid sportsman. During this week's test session at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Dallenbach lined up a future hunting expedition. "Since I moved to Daytona Beach, I've been doing a lot more fishing and hunting than I ever had," Dallenbach said. "I just had lunch with Homestead Mayor Steve Shiever, and it looks like we may go fishing. I may come down here a day early. He's going to take me to his hunting hole to go fishing. There's a lot more things to do here. That's what I like. You try to fix up where you mix a little bit of pleasure with a bit of business."

* Ted Musgrave, driver of the No. 01 Bellsouth Chevrolet, said his team made great strides during his two-day test at Miami. "It's not going to bad right now," Musgrave said. "We're a couple of tenths off where we should be in order to be in contention for a top-20 qualifying run. We're working on it. We're going to do a few more things before we leave. We made a lot of progress from where we unloaded to the time now."

* Ricky Rudd, driver of the No. 28 Texaco-Havoline Ford for Robert Yates

Racing, was one of the faster cars during testing. "We were the quickest here yesterday (35.0 seconds)," Rudd said. "Today, we're working on race setups and long runs. We're trying to get the car to have a lot of staying power and we've got some setups that are working better than others. That's what we're here for." k

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Drivers John Andretti , Jeff Burton , Wally Dallenbach , Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Bobby Labonte , Terry Labonte , Rusty Wallace , Steve Park , Mike Skinner , Jimmy Spencer , Kevin Harvick , Joe Nemechek , Sterling Marlin , Buckshot Jones , Andy Houston , Kurt Busch , Robert Pressley , Casey Atwood , Ted Musgrave , Blaise Alexander , Rick Mast , Robert Yates