Daytona 500: Day one practice report

Jimmie Johnson Has His Eye On The Daytona 500 Pole DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 8, 2002) -- Jimmie Johnson is leading the field of NASCAR Winston Cup cars, posting the day's top speeds during Daytona 500 practice on Friday. Johnson's Lowe's ...

Jimmie Johnson Has His Eye On The Daytona 500 Pole

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 8, 2002) -- Jimmie Johnson is leading the field of NASCAR Winston Cup cars, posting the day's top speeds during Daytona 500 practice on Friday.

Johnson's Lowe's Chevrolet started the afternoon practice session with a speed of 185.033 mph. He was fastest in the day's second session, but dropped off his earlier pace a bit, posting a 184.862 mph.

"Everybody is going to show their hands a little more tomorrow, I think," Johnson said. "Some of the guys were stepping it up this afternoon. Our game plan was to come out and hit every test session and practice session as hard as we could because we don't have any points for provisionals. So we've been laying our cards out on the table and everybody else is catching up now."

Friday's practice helps set the stage for Saturday's Daytona 500 Bud Pole qualifying. The qualifying runs start at 12:05 p.m. to determine the Daytona 500 front row.

Ricky Rudd was second fastest during the practice sessions, posting a 184.740 mph.

"I definitely don't need to take any credit for (the run) because Andy Hillenburg has been here doing all the driving," Rudd said. "They've been over to Talladega using an extra test to try and get ready. This car we've got here, I think they built it in six, seven or eight days, something like that, something unheard of, so it's going pretty good. We're still chasing some Chevrolets around here, but we're pretty happy."

Ward Burton's Caterpillar Dodge was 184.098. He led all Dodges with the fourth fastest speed overall.

"If we don't qualify on the front row, it really doesn't matter where we qualify. What matters is the guys have worked hard enough to get the car on the pole, and I think we've got a good shot at it tomorrow," Burton said. "It's going to be disappointing for them if we don't."

Johnson's teammate and car owner, Jeff Gordon, wasn't far behind Rudd at 184.506 mph. He was third fastest overall.

Johnny Benson was the fastest Pontiac at 183.329 mph. He was ninth fastest overall.

"We feel like we can qualify in the top 20," Benson said. "We're not sure where we're going to end up. A lot of guys didn't show everything; that's everything that we had. We'll see."

The rules package for this year's Daytona 500 is similar to the package in 2000 where Benson nearly won the season-opening race.

"This is a different car than what I had two years ago, too. We don't know. We're going to watch the Bud Shootout and see what it's going to do, as far as the rules go and see what they're going to change or not change. -- But, I feel good about how the Valvoline Pontiac is going to run. We're just going to wait and see what Thursday is going to bring us, but we feel good about the rules."

-dis-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ward Burton , Jeff Gordon , Johnny Benson , Jimmie Johnson