BUSCH: Preseason Thunder: Daytona day five report

Kyle Busch Doubling His Fun During Speedweeks ~ 26 Days Until The Daytona 500 ~ DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (Jan. 20, 2004) - Kyle Busch is ready for a busy Speedweeks 2004. The 18-year-old Busch will be wheeling the No. 5 Lowe's Home Improvement ...

Kyle Busch Doubling His Fun During Speedweeks
~ 26 Days Until The Daytona 500 ~

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (Jan. 20, 2004) - Kyle Busch is ready for a busy Speedweeks 2004.

The 18-year-old Busch will be wheeling the No. 5 Lowe's Home Improvement Chevrolet in the Hershey's Kisses 300 NASCAR Busch Series race on Saturday, Feb. 14 and he'll compete in the Advance Discount Auto Parts 200 ARCA RE/MAX Series race on Saturday, Feb. 7.

Busch believes the extra seat time in the Advance Discount Auto Parts 200 will be beneficial for him in the season-opening Hershey's Kisses 300 Busch Series race.

"We came down here (to Daytona) a few weeks ago and tested that ARCA car and we're really looking forward to bringing that back down here," Busch said. "It definitely will (help). I've actually never been able to race on this facility in the draft so being able to get out there to get that experience before the Busch race will definitely help out. Just like Johnny Sauter said, any kind of seat time you get is seat time and it definitely can't hurt you any."

Busch, who was sixth fastest on the final day of Busch Series testing with a lap 179.126 mph, was pleased with the results in the two-day test session.

"Everything's going good," Busch said. "We're right on where we need to be. This whole Hendrick organization along with the Lowe's people - I have been very fortunate to work with (them). It's really been amazing the way everything's come together so far from the beginning of the year."

Busch, contender for the Busch Series Raybestos Rookie of the Year, realizes that he has big shoes to fill by taking over the driving duties from 2003 Busch Series champion Brian Vickers, who moved to the NEXTEL Cup Series. He is also aware of the competition from some of the veteran drivers of the series and hopes that he can build on Vickers' success.

"I hope it's the new, young, fresh blood that's going to (win)," Busch said. "They're all going to be tough. Johnny (Sauter) and Kasey (Kahne) running on the Cup side as well and being able to run here (in the Busch Series) too. They're going to have a lot of experience. Hopefully we can make the best of our opportunity just as well as they're going to try (to make the best of) theirs."

Fastest of the day, sessions: Jason Leffler, driver of the No. 00 NetZero Chevrolet for Haas CNC Racing, posted the fastest overall lap of both Busch Series' testing sessions on Wednesday with a lap of 181.156 mph. Even though Leffler is happy to have tested so well, he realizes that there's plenty of hard work ahead.

"When we come back we're going to have to run faster," Leffler said. "There's going to be quite a few cars that will run faster than that. Yesterday we had a real smooth day and we know we have good cars. We're not going to jump up and down and think that it will give us the pole, but we know we have something competitive."

If Leffler could start off the season with a win in the Hershey's Kisses 300, it would make all the hard work in the offseason worthwhile.

"It would be incredible," Leffler said. "That would be awesome. Then you could sit back and say, 'Hey, you know we did a heck of a job.' The guys have been working hard all through the winter so even a little deal like this - having a good test - really helps out."

Bird's eye view: African Fish Eagles Phoenix and Isa made an appearance at Daytona International Speedway, taking part in practice flights as they prepare for pre-race activities during the "Great American Race" on Feb. 15.

Tim Smith, Assistant Supervisor of Animal Training at Special Events at Sea World in Orlando has been bringing the six-pound birds to the track for the past few weeks "giving the animals the opportunity to see the environment to feel comfortable."

Phoenix has flown twice as DIS while Isa is still carrying her yellow rookie stripe.

"The superstretch is nice to work the animals on because it won't change much during race time - basically it's a parking lot," Smith said. "However, the frontstretch will change dramatically during race day."

Smith and his crew will continue to come out until twice a week until race day. And race day won't get here soon enough.

"We take a lot of pride in being able to do venues this large is really neat for us," Smith said. "It's neat to be a part of something this big."

Daytona Memories: Kenny Wallace, driver of the No. 23 Stacker 2 Chevrolet for Bill Davis Racing, has being visiting Daytona International Speedway since he was a youngster and shared his favorite Daytona memory.

"What really sticks out in my mind memory is coming through the grandstands as a kid and standing behind the flag man," Wallace said. "The slowest car could come by me and it was just the most excitement. I just couldn't believe I was at Daytona and that car was just flying by me. I think the biggest memory was Benny Parsons winning (the 1975 Daytona 500). Daytona is special."

Next up: Teams participating in the IPOWER DASH 150 on Sunday, Feb. 8 will participate in a two-day test session beginning on Friday at Daytona International Speedway. All the test sessions during Preseason Thunder are free and open to the public with access to the Oldfield Grandstand through the lobby of DAYTONA USA.

Test speeds on Wednesday from NASCAR Busch Series testing at Daytona International Speedway in preparation for the Feb. 14 Hershey's Kisses 300: <pre> 1. Jason Leffler Chevrolet 181.156 2. Robby Gordon Chevrolet 179.881 3. Paul Wolf Dodge 179.612 4. Larry Hollenbeck Chevrolet 179.304 5. Ron Hornaday Chevrolet 179.169 6. Kyle Busch Chevrolet 179.126 7. Casey Atwood Chevrolet 178.370 8. Kenny Wallace Chevrolet 178.348 9. Johnny Benson Dodge 178.327 10. Paul Menard Chevrolet 178.274 11. Justin Ashburn Chevrolet 178.246 12. Mark Martin Ford 178.183 13. Ashton Lewis Chevrolet 178.094 14. Larry Gunselman Chevrolet 178.024 15. Tim Fedewa Chevrolet 177.736 16. Rick Markle Chevrolet 177.539 17. Regan Smith Chevrolet 177.529 18. Stan Boyd Ford 177.410 19. Jason Keller Ford 177.301 20. Greg Biffle Ford 176.995 21. Stanton Barrett Pontiac 176.824 22. Gus Wasson Chevrolet 176.322 23. Jason Schuler Chevrolet 175.977 24. Robby Benton Ford 174.825 25. Stacy Compton Ford 174.503 26. Randy Briggs Chevrolet 174.442

Speedweeks 2004 tickets, including the Hershey's Kisses 300, are available online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.

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Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Jason Keller , Jason Leffler , Kenny Wallace , Greg Biffle , Robby Gordon , Casey Atwood , Stacy Compton , Johnny Benson , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Larry Gunselman , Johnny Sauter , Larry Hollenbeck , Stanton Barrett , Brian Vickers , Jason Schuler , Paul Menard , Randy Briggs , Stan Boyd , Benny Parsons , Regan Smith , Justin Ashburn , Rick Markle , Ashton Lewis , Gus Wasson , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin , Robby Benton
Teams Bill Davis Racing