Daytona Test: Wednesday, Day three report

The No. 4 Kodak Chevrolet has a strong tradition of winning at Daytona International Speedway. In 1991, Ernie Irvan, driving the No. 4 Kodak Chevrolet for Morgan-McClure Motorsports, captured his first NASCAR Winston Cup Series win in the ...

The No. 4 Kodak Chevrolet has a strong tradition of winning at Daytona International Speedway.

In 1991, Ernie Irvan, driving the No. 4 Kodak Chevrolet for Morgan-McClure Motorsports, captured his first NASCAR Winston Cup Series win in the 33rd annual Daytona 500.

With victories in the 1994 and 1995 Daytona 500s driving the No. 4 Kodak Chevrolet, Sterling Marlin won not only his first NASCAR Winston Cup Series race, but also became the third driver in history to win back-to-back Daytona 500s. Marlin also won the 1996 Pepsi 400 behind the wheel of the No. 4.

Now, Mike Skinner thinks it's his turn to win at the "World Center of Racing." The Daytona Beach, Fla., resident showed some speed on Wednesday as the first wave of Winston Cup machines completed their three-day test session in preparation for the 44th annual Daytona 500 on Feb. 17.

In the morning session, Skinner turned a lap of 182.975 mph in his primary car, which was good enough for third fastest on the speed chart. In Wednesday's session, which was dominated with drafting, Skinner was ninth fastest with a lap of 183.419.

"The guys keep working on stuff," Skinner said. "We put a little bit different engine combination in this morning. This is a brand new race car. It's the first time it's been to a race track. They put this car together in four days.

"For us to come down here and run the speed that we're running, we're pretty proud of it. I think by the time we take it home and slick it up a little bit and come back with a little bit more horsepower, we should have a good race car.

"We've tried a lot of stuff. We've got one car that we're doing nothing but engine stuff. (The fast car), we never put tape on the grill until this morning. We did all the things that we could do without trying to go fast. We're not as fast as we need to be. We've got a little bit left, but not a lot left."

Skinner brings his own tradition of success at Daytona. As a rookie in 1997, he won the poles for both the Daytona 500 and Pepsi 400. In 1998, he played an instrumental role in pushing his RCR teammate Dale Earnhardt to his first Daytona 500 victory and in 1999, he won the now-defunct Budweiser Shootout qualifying race.

Besides searching for fast laps during the test, Skinner wanted to work on developing chemistry with his new team. He's joining Morgan-McClure Motorsports after a long relationship with Richard Childress Racing.

"So far so good," Skinner said. "We know we have a lot of things to work on. There have been a couple of times I've jumped up and down and said, 'I want to do this.' They let me scream for awhile and then they do it. It's working pretty good."

The fastest speed of the test session was posted by Ward Burton, who turned a lap of 48.659 seconds, 184.961 mph in his No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge for Bill Davis Racing. Burton said he might have had some help turning that speed, but believes his team is in excellent shape heading into Speedweeks 2002.

"It was pretty clean," Burton said. "It wasn't perfect. I didn't have anybody right in front of me, but when I exited Turn 2 there was a small pack going into Turn 3," Burton said. "There could have been a little help, but we had run some 48.80-second laps before then. I'm real proud of the team and I think we gained on it.

"Sometimes I think we overlook the momentum we started building in the last 10 or 12 races last year. We were really making some progress. I feel like we can carry that progress into this year real quick."

Testing will continue on Saturday and Sunday at the Speedway as the NASCAR Goody's Dash Series teams prepare for the Feb. 9 DAYTONA USA 150. The test sessions are free and open to the public with access to the Oldfield Grandstand through the lobby of DAYTONA USA.

Tickets for Speedweeks 2002 are available online or by calling the Speedway ticket office at (386) 253-7223.

-dis-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Ward Burton , Ernie Irvan , Mike Skinner , Sterling Marlin
Teams Richard Childress Racing , Bill Davis Racing