MIKE WALLACE TOPS NASCAR NATIONWIDE SERIES TESTING CHARTS AT RICHMOND INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY RICHMOND (3/24/08) -- The NASCAR Nationwide Series began its two-day official test at Richmond International Raceway Monday with 32 drivers taking the...
MIKE WALLACE TOPS NASCAR NATIONWIDE SERIES TESTING CHARTS AT RICHMOND INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY
RICHMOND (3/24/08) -- The NASCAR Nationwide Series began its two-day official test at Richmond International Raceway Monday with 32 drivers taking the wheel at America's Premier Short Track. The first session Monday ran from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., and following a one-hour break, the second session began at 6 p.m. and ran until 9 p.m. The second day of testing will begin Tuesday afternoon at 1 p.m. The grandstands will be open for fans to watch both sessions on Tuesday.
The Nationwide Series drivers, along with a number of Sprint Cup Series drivers who are racing in both series this season, took advantage of the opportunity to test at the 3/4-mile track in preparation for the NASCAR doubleheader weekend at Richmond International Raceway May 2-3.
Jason Keller, the series' career leader in starts, piloted his No. 11 America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevrolet on Monday and raved about the excitement of racing "under the lights" at Richmond International Raceway.
"I'm often asked what's my favorite race track," Keller said. "Probably nine times out of 10, I answer Richmond. It's a driver's race track. It's a fan race track. It's a race track you don't have to run single-file and the groove widens out. It's a race that I love coming to."
Bobby Hamilton, Jr., another Nationwide Series regular in the No. 25 Smithfield Foods car, echoed Keller's sentiment on Monday.
"Richmond has multiple grooves. It's exciting for the fans because they get to see so much more than they normally would at another track," Hamilton said. "It's night time so the drivers like that. It provides great grip. You see the atmosphere of the beating and banging, the glow of the rotors. You can be sitting beside the fence, see one of the stars go blowing by and blow rubber in your face. It's stuff you can't get at speedways."
In Monday's first session, Mike Wallace clocked the fastest time in the afternoon in his No. 7 GEICO ride with a time of 21.535 seconds. Roush Fenway Racing teammates David Ragan (No. 6 Discount Tire) and Card Edwards (No. 60 Scotts) were second and third, respectively, in the opening session. Ragan's fastest lap time was 21.57 seconds. Edwards, the defending series champions, had a fast lap of 21.635 seconds.
Chesterfield, Virginia native Denny Hamlin had the fourth-best time in Monday's first session in the No. 32 Dollar General car. Rookie Landon Cassill had the fifth-quickest time in the afternoon session and best lap for Chevrolet , clocking a 21.647-second lap in the No. 5 National Guard Chevy.
In the night session Monday, Edwards turned the quickest lap "under the lights" in a time of 21.600 seconds, just ahead of Bobby Labonte (21.606) in the No. 21 Racing Gearz Chevrolet. Mike Bliss in the No. 22 Supercuts/Family Dollar ride was the third-fastest in the second session with a lap time of 21.646 seconds, and two-time Nationwide Series Richmond winner Kyle Busch was fourth fastest (21.691). Rounding out the top-five times in the night session was a lap of 21.720 seconds by Matt Kenseth in the No. 17 Arby's machine.
After winning Saturday's Nationwide Series race in Nashville, Scott Wimmer, driver of the No. 29 Holiday Inn Chevrolet, jumped at the opportunity to test at America's Premier Short Track.
"Richmond is one of the favorites for I think every driver," Wimmer said. "It's what we all grew up doing on short tracks. [Richmond International Raceway] is a great race track with multiple grooves, and we always have real exciting racing here every time we come."
The Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup Series drivers will next return to Richmond International Raceway May 2-3 for the NASCAR doubleheader at America's Premier Short Track. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stars will battle it out "under the lights" on Saturday, May 3, for the Crown Royal Presents The Dan Lowry 400. Tickets start at $80 and are available by calling 866-455-7223 or clicking here. The weekend begins on Friday, May 2, with the NASCAR Nationwide Series 250 race, preceded by practice and pole qualifying for the Nationwide Series and practice and Wawa Pole Qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Children 12 and under are admitted free in general admission sections with a ticketed adult on Friday only. Friday's tickets are $45 (reserved) and $35 (general admission) in advance. Tickets and information are available by calling 866-455-7223 or clicking here.