NASCAR Preseason Thunder at Las Vegas - Day 13 * Dale Earnhardt Jr., Martin Truex Jr., refining friendship along with databases * Jeff Green, Elliott Sadler fastest in morning session DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 30, 2006) -- Teammates for the...
NASCAR Preseason Thunder at Las Vegas - Day 13
* Dale Earnhardt Jr., Martin Truex Jr., refining friendship along with databases
* Jeff Green, Elliott Sadler fastest in morning session
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 30, 2006) -- Teammates for the first time, but friends on and off the track. In fact, familiarity as co-workers could be the competitive key for Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet) and Martin Truex Jr. (No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) in 2006.
Both operate under the Dale Earnhardt Inc. banner, but Truex Jr. joins Earnhardt Jr., in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series this season. He'll compete for Raybestos Rookie of the Year honors after winning two consecutive NASCAR Busch Series titles for DEI, and as Truex Jr.'s mentor-turned-teammate, Earnhardt Jr. isn't concerned about rookie pitfalls.
"The toughest challenge for Martin will be the schedule," he said," and he's pretty aware of the racing part of it. He's been racing all his life."
Truex Jr. and Earnhardt Jr. are participating in NASCAR Preseason Thunder at Las Vegas, the continuation of the annual preseason tests that began several weeks ago at Daytona International Speedway. Both drivers visited with media during Monday's lunch break at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, displaying similarities many observers say may foreshadow breakout seasons.
Both Truex Jr. and Earnhardt Jr. were introduced to their sport by their fathers. Both are low-key, sometimes soft-spoken, with wry senses of humor.
"Nothing's been that hard yet, but it's about to get a whole lot harder," Truex Jr. said of the approaching season-opening Daytona 500 on Feb. 19 at Daytona International Speedway. And while his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup indoctrination promises some learning curves, he knows exactly where to go for clarification. "Me and Junior are good friends," Truex Jr. said. "He's been a great friend and someone I go to for advice, and not just the stuff on the race track."
"Off the race track, I talk to Martin and see if he's having some of the same issues I'm having," Earnhardt Jr. said. "If they've got their car figured out, I might take that back to (crew chief) Tony (Eury) Jr." Earnhardt says both DEI teams are working well together -- both drivers along with Eury Jr., and Truex Jr.'s crew chief, Kevin "Bono" Manion.
Monday morning's session proved a work-in-progress for both drivers -- Earnhardt Jr. in a quest to rebound from last season's disappointing 19th-place finish, and Truex Jr. in his quest to adjust to the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.
"Being here today has been really good so far," Truex Jr. said. "Coming here, you get the rust knocked off. We're just trying to get our cars prepared the best we can."
Jeff Green leads Monday morning session ... Jeff Green (No. 66 Best Buy Chevrolet), posted the fastest time in Monday's morning session, 170.068 mph (31.752 seconds). Elliott Sadler (No. 38 M&M's Ford) posted the second fastest time of 169.428 mph (31.872 seconds). Complete times and speeds for each day's test sessions are available to media members at www.nascarmedia.com.
Preseason testing continues ...NASCAR Preseason Thunder at Las Vegas begins Monday, Jan. 30 and runs through Wednesday, Feb. 1. Teams may test on two of the three days. All sessions begin at 9 a.m., and end at 5 p.m. (PT), weather permitting, with a lunch break from noon until 1 p.m.
Drivers scheduled to test from Jan. 30-31 include Mark Martin (No. 6 AAA Ford), the fourth-place finisher in the 2005 Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, who is preparing for his final NASCAR NEXTEL Cup season.
Other drivers testing on those dates include Jeff Burton (No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet), Robby Gordon (No. 7 Jim Beam Chevrolet), Jeff Green (No. 66 Best Buy Chevrolet), Kevin Harvick (No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet), Dale Jarrett (No. 88 UPS Ford), Travis Kvapil (No. 32 Tide/Downy Chevrolet), Jamie McMurray (No. 26 IRWIN Industrial Tools/ Sharpie Ford), Elliott Sadler (No. 38 M&M's Ford), Hermie Sadler (No. 00 Aaron's Rents Ford), Ken Schrader (No. 21 Little Debbie Ford), Michael Waltrip (No. 55 NAPA Chevrolet) and Scott Wimmer (No. 4 Aero Exhaust Chevrolet). Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidates Clint Bowyer (No. 07 Jack Daniels Chevrolet), Brent Sherman (No. 49 Dodge), Reed Sorenson (No. 41 Target Dodge), David Stremme (No. 40 Coors Light/Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon Dodge) and Martin Truex Jr. (No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) also will test from Jan. 30-31.Seven drivers who competed in the 2005 Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup will test from Jan. 31-Feb. 1. They include runner-up Greg Biffle (No. 16 National Guard Ford), 10th-place finisher Kurt Busch (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford), third-place finisher Carl Edwards (No. 99 Office Depot Ford), fifth-place finisher Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet), seventh-place finisher Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools Ford), ninth-place finisher Jeremy Mayfield (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge) and sixth-place finisher Ryan Newman (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge). Joining them will be Dave Blaney (No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge), Kyle Busch (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet), Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet), Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge), Bobby Labonte (No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge), Terry Labonte (No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet), Sterling Marlin (No. 14 Waste Management Chevrolet), Casey Mears (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge), Joe Nemechek (No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet), Kyle Petty (No. 45 Wells Fargo Dodge), Scott Riggs (No. 10 Valvoline/Stanley Tools Dodge) and Brian Vickers (No. 25 GMAC Chevrolet).
Three drivers -- all Joe Gibbs Racing teammates -- will test on Jan. 30 and Feb. 1. They are current NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet) and Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidates Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Fed Ex Chevrolet) and J.J. Yeley (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet).
What: NASCAR Preseason Thunder testing for 2006.
Where: Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Track Layout: 1.5-mile tri-oval.
When: Monday, Jan. 30 through Wednesday, Feb. 1.
Times: 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. (PT) Lunch from noon until 1 p.m.
Who: Greg Biffle, Dave Blaney, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon, Robby Gordon, Jeff Green, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Dale Jarrett, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Travis Kvapil, Bobby Labonte, Terry Labonte, Sterling Marlin, Mark Martin, Jeremy Mayfield, Jamie McMurray, Casey Mears, Joe Nemechek, Ryan Newman, Kyle Petty, Scott Riggs, Elliott Sadler, Hermie Sadler, Ken Schrader, Brent Sherman, Reed Sorenson, Tony Stewart, David Stremme, Martin Truex Jr., Brian Vickers, Michael Waltrip, Scott Wimmer and J.J. Yeley.