Gordon still showing his bumper to the field By Dave Rodman DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- (Jan. 20, 1999) Thirty NASCAR Winston Cup Series teams got the same view Wednesday of Jeff Gordon's No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet that they saw for most of his...
Gordon still showing his bumper to the field By Dave Rodman
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- (Jan. 20, 1999) Thirty NASCAR Winston Cup Series teams got the same view Wednesday of Jeff Gordon's No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet that they saw for most of his 1998 championship season. Gordon ended the pre-season test schedule at Daytona by clocking the fastest speed of the 30 Chevrolet and Pontiac teams -- and the second-quickest of the winter, when he was electronically timed at 46.765 seconds, an average speed of 192.452 mph. Rusty Wallace ran the fastest lap of the winter in the Miller Lite Ford Taurus, 193.129 mph, last week. While that unofficially makes the pair the favorites for the front row in the Feb. 14 Daytona 500, which will be determined in Bud Pole Qualifying on Feb. 6, Gordon has a more focused goal -- namely, his second victory in the "Great American Race." "That run was OK -- the challenge now is to come back and repeat that in qualifying," Gordon said at the end of the day. "Any car that's capable of sitting on the pole can win the race, and that's what we're concerned about more than anything. "Things have been going real well for us. We've got one new car and a car that was new last year that we won with here -- the night race in October. And we're just doing some engine testing with that so you probably won't see us go real fast (189.510 mph Wednesday). But with our other car we have been able to go with some decent speeds. Not quite what some of those Fords ran last week but we feel like when we come back we'll be able to get more out of it, so I'm real happy with that car so far." Gordon wasn't the only one in that boat. Kyle Petty wrapped up GM's final two-day test at Daytona trailing only Gordon for the second straight day. Petty upped his best effort in the No. 44 Hot Wheels Pontiac to 192.341 mph. Ironically, that puts the circuit's three manufacturers in the top-three spots in testing. Rounding out the top-five on Wednesday were consistent Wally Dallenbach in the Budweiser Chevrolet at 191.636 mph, fast-closing Ward Burton in the Caterpillar Pontiac at 191.595 and Terry Labonte, who got the fastest of his Kellogg's Chevrolets up to 191.465. Mike Skinner backed up his performance Tuesday with a solid sixth-best 191.343 effort Wednesday. "We're down here without our qualifying engines, so we are happy to be where we are right now," Skinner said. "We've got a new car down here, and it seems to be working the best." Rounding out the top-10 were two pleasant surprises. Trailing two-time Daytona 500 winner Sterling Marlin (Coors Light Chevy, 191.213) and 1997 Pepsi 400 winner John Andretti (STP Pontiac, 190.909) were Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate Tony Stewart and revitalized -- and renamed -- Geoffrey Bodine. Stewart summed up the feelings of many after running 190.896 mph in The Home Depot Pontiac, saying "Nobody is happy with their speeds right now and we will have to work to get some more out of the cars after we leave. We would like to be a little bit better, but this is January and it doesn't count until February." Interestingly, defending Daytona 500 Bud Pole winner Bobby Labonte was only 16th on the list in the Interstate Batteries Pontiac at 190.062, although he did have his second car in at 189.833. Defending Daytona 500 champion Dale Earnhardt checked in at 190.042 mph in the GM Goodwrench Service Plus Chevrolet, 17th best. Labonte is one of 14 drivers scheduled to kick off the 1999 season at Daytona in the Bud Shootout on Sunday, Feb. 7. The Bud Shootout features last season's Bud Pole winners against each other in a 25-lap dash. NASCAR Winston Cup Series teams check into the Daytona garage area on Feb. 4. Tickets are still available for the Bud Shootout and other Speedweeks '99 events. For ticket information call (904) 253-7223, or for additional information visit www.DAYTONAUSA.com.
Source: NASCAR Online