Daytona test notes 96-01-03

PURVIS RECORDS FASTEST SPEED AS CHEVY TEAMS OPEN TESTING AT DAYTONA DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 3) -- Jeff Purvis posted the fastest time of 10 Chevrolet NASCAR Winston Cup teams that opened the pre-season testing season Wednesday at Daytona ...

PURVIS RECORDS FASTEST SPEED AS CHEVY TEAMS OPEN TESTING AT DAYTONA

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 3) -- Jeff Purvis posted the fastest time of 10 Chevrolet NASCAR Winston Cup teams that opened the pre-season testing season Wednesday at Daytona International Speedway preparing for the Feb. 18 Daytona 500.

Purvis was clocked at 48.109 seconds, an average speed of 187.075 mph, in one of two Phoenix Motorsports Chevrolet Monte Carlos that he drove on the day. Team owner James Finch had one of 1995's cars at the test as well as a brown primer version.

"This team does awful well on the superspeedways, as good as anybody around," Purvis had said earlier in the day. "We're planning to run everything they've got down here at Speedweeks -- the 500, Goody's 300 (Saturday, Feb. 17) and the ARCA 200 (Sunday, Feb. 11)."

"We're going to run the full NASCAR Busch Series," Purvis continued, describing the Phoenix unit's plans. "I think we've got enough to run with anyone here. We'll also do selected Winston Cup races -- probably most of the speedway races because we're strong there. The ARCA deal, I don't know...

"With them planning to run ARCA races at Charlotte (Motor Speedway), we may do those races because we're strong there with the Busch car but not so good with the Cup car and we'll see what we can learn to help that program."

Along with Phoenix, most teams that were at Daytona for the test had pairs of cars, including two-time defending Daytona 500 champ Sterling Marlin, Darrell Waltrip, Steve Grissom, seven-time Winston Cup titlist Dale Earnhardt, Robert Pressley and Joe Nemechek.

Proving it was taking its first title defense seriously, defending Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon's Hendrick Motorsports team had three cars running -- two for Gordon, tagged "24A", and one tagged "24J" for Hendrick truck racer and former NASCAR Busch Series driver Jack Sprague of Spring Lake, Mich.

The teams of Earnhardt, Gordon, Marlin, Waltrip and Terry Labonte were preparing for the Sunday, Feb. 11, Busch Clash of '96 as well as the other events of Speedweeks, such as the Thursday, Feb. 15, Gatorade 125-Mile Qualifying Races.

Gordon found himself in an unfamiliar position -- in the champion's garage space -- on his first day at the "World Center of Racing" as champ.

"The championship is starting to sink in. It really has gone by so fast, but it's a great feeling to be back in Daytona," said Gordon, who became the second-youngest driver in NASCAR Winston Cup history to be crowned champion. "It's funny, I was chosen to check out the track this morning to see if it was dry. I was saying 'Where's Darrell (Waltrip) and Dale (Earnhardt),' and they kept saying, 'But you're the champion.' That's a little more pressure than I think I'm ready for!"

Gordon seemed confident that his team is ready for the challenge of repeating as Winston Cup champion, saying the team would again be the key. "The one thing that makes Hendrick Motorsports so strong is that everyone is out to win. Now that they've won a championship they want to do it again!"

The test will continue Thursday. A section of the Oldfield Grandstand is open daily at no charge from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with access through the Visitors' Center. Guided tours of the Speedway are also available from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. for a nominal fee.

NOTES: Earnhardt plans to take in a trip to Japan to spread the word on NASCAR Winston Cup racing to the Far East, in anticipation of the first International NASCAR-sanctioned event planned for November '96. "I don't really know too much about it," said Earnhardt of his diplomatic mission. "I am just a messenger, spreading the word..." Two-time NASCAR Winston Cup championship crew chief Andy Petree was back at Daytona overseeing two cars for Leo Jackson Motorsports. The team had brought former ARCA champ Tracy Leslie to drive its second car. "I moved back to Michigan and I wanted to stay in touch with things," said Leslie, who was wielding stop watches and a clipboard as he noted that he would run

the Feb. 17 Goody's 300 with his own new Chevy Monte Carlo. "I'm here to do whatever they need..." Dave Marcis' new crew chief, former ARCA car owner Terry Shirley was on hand and fitting in nicely with the Wisconsin owner/driver's team. Marcis said former crew chief Dale Fischlein, a former NASCAR Winston Racing Series regional champion, had left to try to continue to nurture his driving career with a program of NASCAR Busch Series races. "It was difficult for him (Fischlein) to build his driving career while spending so much time working with us," Marcis allowed... For the first time at a winter test session NASCAR's timing and scoring guru, Morris Metcalfe, was on hand to electronically time practice laps.

GENERAL MOTORS TEST SPEEDS -- Jan. 3* NO DRIVER/CAR TIME SPEED 44 Jeff Purvis/Chevrolet 48.109 secs 187.075 mph 24 Jeff Gordon/Chevrolet 48.144 186.939 5 Terry Labonte/Chevrolet 48.167 186.850 3 Dale Earnhardt/Chevrolet 48.334 186.204 71 Dave Marcis/Chevrolet 48.438 185.805 4 Sterling Marlin/Chevrolet 48.479 185.647 24j Jack Sprague/Chevrolet 48.773 184.528 17 Darrell Waltrip/Chevrolet 48.832 184.305 29 Steve Grissom/Chevrolet 48.944 183.884 33 Robert Pressley/Chevrolet 49.151 183.109 87 Joe Nemechek/Chevrolet 49.975 180.090

* Electronic times taken randomly throughout the day.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Darrell Waltrip , Terry Labonte , Joe Nemechek , Sterling Marlin , Robert Pressley , Jack Sprague , Jeff Purvis , Dave Marcis , Andy Petree , Steve Grissom
Teams Hendrick Motorsports