BUSCH: Teams beat after Martinsville test

MARTINSVILLE, VA. (March 28, 2001) -- Almost all of the 15 teams that tested at Martinsville Speedway the past three days drove away from the .526-mile track feeling good about their chances in the Virginia 500 Winston Cup race on April 8. "We...

MARTINSVILLE, VA. (March 28, 2001) -- Almost all of the 15 teams that tested at Martinsville Speedway the past three days drove away from the .526-mile track feeling good about their chances in the Virginia 500 Winston Cup race on April 8.

"We still have some adjusting to do on it to make it good on the long runs, but we feel like we've found something that will be extremely competitive," said three-time Martinsville winner Jeff Gordon a couple of hours before he shut down his Dupont Chevrolet for the day.

"We've been trying to find a good combination. We came up here one time and had a good test, maybe in 1994 and after that I found a little bit and the team found a little bit and we got real strong. Then we lost a little bit of that edge. I think the last couple of years we've been good enough for top fives, but not wins. We brought a different combination car to test and I really like it. I'm really excited to get back here." Gordon had the best laps of the day, topping out with a fast lap of 94.302 miles an hour. The track qualifying record is 95.371 mph, set by Tony Stewart last fall. Mark Martin has been struggling this year in the Viagra Ford, without a top five finish so far. But his last Winston Cup win came here a year ago in the Virginia 500.

"Our test has gone good. It's OK," said Martin, whose best speed was 93.511 mph, which was about in the middle of the testing pack. Last year's win won' t be a help this time around, though, he said. "No, no way," he said referring to a possible boost from his win in the 2000 Virginia 500. "Everything changes. Everything is different." Johnny Benson probably logged more laps than anyone else during the two-day test session. At midday Tuesday he had put more than 300 laps on the two Valvoline Tauruses he had at the track and for the two days total topped more than 500 laps. But he said all those laps wouldn't necessarily convert to success in the Virginia 500.

"You're never sure, but we felt testing was good for us," said Benson, whose speed of 93.835 mph was second to Gordon. "But we have tested good here in the past and come back and weren't all that good. So we just have to go through our notes and make adjustments and then I think we'll be alright for the race."

Rookie Kevin Harvick had a top speed of 93.742 mph in the Goodwrench Chevrolet while Kevin Lepage had a quick speed of 93.649 mph in the Kodak Chevrolet.

Kenny Wallace had a speed of 93.372 in the Eel River Pontiac followed by rookie Jason Leffler at 93.051 mph; Hermie Sadler at 93.051; Andy Houston at 93.005; and Buckshot Jones at 20.41.

Wednesday's testing is the last action at Martinsville Speedway until the Virginia 500/Advance Auto Parts 250 weekend kicks off with Bud Pole qualifying for the Craftsman Truck Series at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, April 6 followed by time trials for the Winston Cup Series at 3 p.m. Tickets for qualifying are $15 for adults and children under 12 get in free. There are still great seats for the Virginia 500 and the Advance Auto Parts 250 by calling toll free at (877) 722-3849.

-MS

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Series NASCAR Cup , NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Jason Leffler , Kevin Harvick , Kenny Wallace , Kevin Lepage , Buckshot Jones , Andy Houston , Hermie Sadler , Mark Martin