Dan Pardus Pleased With Speedweeks Effort

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 9) -- Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate Danny Pardus said he was pleased with the first weekend of Speedweeks NASCAR Winston Cup Series competition at Daytona International Speedway. Pardus, who wheels the Midwest...

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 9) -- Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate Danny Pardus said he was pleased with the first weekend of Speedweeks NASCAR Winston Cup Series competition at Daytona International Speedway.

Pardus, who wheels the Midwest Transit Racing Chevrolet, posted the 30th fastest speed, out of 58 entries, in Daytona 500 pole qualifying, then made a solid run through the Bud Shootout Qualifying race before finishing 13th in the 15-car field.

"We had a good effort in qualifying,'' said the 35-year-old Daytona Beach native. "We were satisfied with it. We had a target to shoot at and we made it, but everybody picked up and went a little faster from winter testing. This series is just so competitive, no matter how hard you try, the guy beside you is doing the same thing, so you got to try harder."

Hal Hicks and Mike Witters, who own Midwest Transit Racing, crew chief John McQueen, and Pardus decided to stand on their qualifying speed to concentrate their efforts on Thursday's (Feb. 11) Gatorade Twin 125-mile qualifying races.

Making the field for the $8 million Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 14, is paramount, which is why Midwest Transit Racing didn't spend too much time on Pardus' Bud Shootout qualifying race entry.

"We didn't have the time to put the effort into the Bud Shootout Qualifier car like we needed to," said Pardus. "We're a brand new race team. We don't have a lot of manpower right now. We focused on the Daytona 500 car. That's our primary concern. That race was good exposure for the team, but it was another learning deal. It wasn't a points race, but we would have liked to show better."

On deck: the Gatorade Twins.

The 50-lap races over Daytona's 2.5-mile tri-oval help set the 43-car starting grid for the Daytona 500.

"We're going to start in the middle of the pack, and basically, we just want to stay there," said Pardus. "I want to hook up with somebody and draft. If the car can move up through the pack, I'm going to do it safely. If not, I'll do the right things and we'll get a good top 15 finish and get into the Daytona 500."

The Daytona 500 has been the target since Midwest Transit Racing started its massive, race-shop buildup just four short months ago. It will be Pardus' second Winston Cup start at the "World Center of Racing." He started in October's Pepsi 400.

"The Daytona 500 is a long race,'' said Pardus. "When we get started, I'll be conservative. I'll have a good solid race car under me we can finish that thing. I believe we can have a good finish. We've got good equipment.

"The team's going to learn a lot about pit stops and that type of thing. I believe we can bring it home and have a good day. For me to win Raybestos Rookie of the Year honors, I've got to finish races."

"The Midwest Transit Racing team is doing great. I'm very proud of this team. If we can do well in the Gatorade Twins and make the Daytona 500 that will be a big shot in the arm for them. I've got to do a good job now, and I'm ready. It's a long two weeks here and if I can do well in the Twins, that'll get them really fired up again. They're excited. They want this as much as I do and we can make it happen."

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Series NASCAR Cup