DEI Still Running Strong At Daytona Waltrip Second; Mayfield Posts Fastest Speed DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (Jan. 16, 2002) - Dale Earnhardt Inc. continues to flex its restrictor-plate muscle at Daytona International Speedway. Last week during the...
DEI Still Running Strong At Daytona
Waltrip Second; Mayfield Posts Fastest Speed
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (Jan. 16, 2002) - Dale Earnhardt Inc. continues to flex its restrictor-plate muscle at Daytona International Speedway.
Last week during the first wave of Winston Cup testing in preparation for the Feb. 17 Daytona 500, Dale Earnhardt Jr., the 2001 Pepsi 400 winner, and Kenny Wallace put their names near the top of the speed chart.
During this week's second wave of Winston Cup testing, 2001 Daytona 500 champion Michael Waltrip and Kerry Earnhardt are following suit.
Waltrip was second fastest on Tuesday in the No. 15 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet with a lap 182.319 mph while Earnhardt, driving the No. 81 Chevrolet, was the ninth fastest driver with a lap of 181.609.
During Wednesday's test session, Waltrip was second fastest with a lap of 183.102 mph while Earnhardt stayed in the top 10 with a lap of 182.216 mph.
"It's pretty cool to have a fast car at Daytona for qualifying," Waltrip said. "If I could get the pole, that would be the best thing in the whole world because that would be a great gift from your team."
DEI dominated the restrictor-plate races last year with Waltrip winning the Daytona 500 and then finishing second to Earnhardt Jr. in the Pepsi 400. Earnhardt Jr. also captured the EA Sports 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway in October.
Waltrip is feeling confident about his car and chances in the 44th annual Daytona 500. He hopes Dale Jr. can understand it's his turn to win at Daytona.
"I think that's the way I see it," Waltrip said. "I think Dale Jr. would be all right with that. But there's a lot of other people that are going to want to mess that up. But I'm confident that like last year, our cars will be part of the story.
"A lot of people have never really had a chance to win this race because they've never been in the right car at the right time. I'm still blessed that I was in the right car at the right time. I feel pretty confident that I'm in it again."
Jeremy Mayfield, preparing for his first season in the No. 19 Dodge for Evernham Motorsports, was the fastest in Wednesday's test session with a lap of 183.221 mph. Rounding out the top-five fastest drivers were Waltrip, Atwood (183.091), Mike Wallace (182.678) and Kevin Harvick (182.338).
Said Mayfield: "I've been down here before and thought everything was good, but I felt like that before we got here. This is the most prepared team I've ever been with down here testing for the Daytona 500. I think a lot of that goes to the hard work and effort they put into it."
Wallace is another one of the smiling faces in the garage with his No. 33 Andy Petree Racing Chevrolet turning a lap of 182.678. The team is currently seeking sponsorship for the Daytona 500 and beyond.
"The car drives great," Wallace said. "The only thing we need to do is get a sponsor on the side of the car. It'd be a shame for that car to sit in Victory Lane with no sponsor on it and sit in DAYTONA USA as a white car all year long."
The second wave of Winston Cup testing will wrap up on Thursday and is free and open to the public with access to the Oldfield Grandstand through the lobby of DAYTONA USA.
Tickets for Speedweeks 2002 events are available online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling the Speedway ticket office at (386) 253-7223.