DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (Sept. 9, 2003) -- 2003 Daytona 500 champion Michael Waltrip and 2003 Daytona 500 runner-up Kurt Busch wrapped up a two-day Goodyear tire test on Tuesday at Daytona International Speedway. Waltrip and test driver Tim Fedewa...
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (Sept. 9, 2003) -- 2003 Daytona 500 champion Michael Waltrip and 2003 Daytona 500 runner-up Kurt Busch wrapped up a two-day Goodyear tire test on Tuesday at Daytona International Speedway.
Waltrip and test driver Tim Fedewa drove Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolets while Busch tested his Roush Racing Ford as the trio of drivers helped Goodyear develop a new tire for next year's "Great American Race" on Feb. 15.
Both Busch and Waltrip participated in 30-lap drafting sessions while Fedewa did single-car laps in a Chevrolet Monte Carlo that's expected to be Waltrip's Daytona 500 car in 2004.
"It's been real productive," said Waltrip's crew chief Richard "Slugger" Labbe. "We're trying to get a new generation tire for Goodyear developed. So far, it's gone good. The tires are holding up. The lap times are pretty quick and consistent and not much fall off. The cars generally push here after 20 laps and so far we've been able to stay pretty neutral."
Although the Daytona 500 is six months away, Labbe is already gearing up for an attempt at a repeat in NASCAR's richest and most prestigious race.
"We take our restrictor-plate racing pretty seriously," said Labbe, who engineered both Waltrip's 2003 Daytona 500 and 2002 Pepsi 400 victories. "This car here is actually the one we're going to race in the Daytona 500 next year. We've already got it built and we're developing and trying to get it better.
"The Daytona 500 is what everyone shoots for all winter. We started building this car in May just like (the 2003) Daytona 500 car that sits in DAYTONA USA. We've spent a lot of time on restrictor-plate programs. It's what everyone works for all winter long."
While tire testing can be tedious work, Busch was still excited about being at the "World Center of Racing" turning laps on the famed 2.5-mile tri-oval.
"Just the prestige and history," said Busch about the importance of the Daytona 500. "You come into this gate just to do a tire test and you know you're here at Daytona. Just that special feeling. You know you got a lot on the line. It's the beginning of the season and you want to get things off to a solid start."
Tickets for the Daytona 500 and other Speedweeks 2004 events are available online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.