Bobby Hamilton, Jr. and Brad Keselowski Quickest in Tuesday Nationwide Series Testing at Richmond International Raceway RICHMOND (3/25/08) -- The NASCAR Nationwide Series wrapped up its two-day official test at Richmond International Raceway ...
Bobby Hamilton, Jr. and Brad Keselowski Quickest in Tuesday Nationwide Series Testing at Richmond International Raceway
RICHMOND (3/25/08) -- The NASCAR Nationwide Series wrapped up its two-day official test at Richmond International Raceway Tuesday with two sessions at America's Premier Short Track.
In Tuesday afternoon's session, Bobby Hamilton, Jr. turned the quickest lap in his No. 25 Smithfield Foods car with a time of 21.733 seconds. In the night session "under the lights", Brad Keselowski posted the fastest lap in the U.S. Navy Chevrolet with a time of 21.696 seconds.
Though the sunny skies and warmer temperatures altered the teams set-ups and results on Tuesday, one thing that remained constant was the positive feedback about America's Premier Short Track from both the Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup Series drivers.
"Richmond is an awesome race track," said Clint Bowyer, Nationwide Series points leader and driver of the No. 2 BB&T Chevrolet. "If I were going to build a race track, I would mold it after this one. We need more Richmonds. These tracks, in my opinion, separate the men from the boys. They really do."
Jason Leffler, a Nationwide Series regular and former pole winner at Richmond International Raceway, also praised the ¾-mile oval.
"The track configuration is awesome," said Leffler. "It's got a short track feel, but yet it has enough speed that it has some speedway characteristics. There are always two grooves of racing here. On race day, you're always surrounded by fans. There's not a bad seat in the house."
Chesterfield, Virginia native Denny Hamlin was second fastest on Tuesday afternoon, clocking a lap time of 21.744 seconds in the No. 20 Z-Line Designs ride. Kevin Harvick joined the test session Tuesday and was third in the afternoon with a lap time of 21.749 seconds in the No. 33 Camping World Chevrolet, followed by Kyle Busch (No. 32 Dollar General, 21.763) and Brad Coleman (No. 27 Cottonelle, 21.81).
In the night session, Kelly Bires was second in the No. 47 Clorox ride with a quick lap time of 21.701 seconds. Jason Keller, the Nationwide Series career leader in starts, was third fastest "under the lights" Tuesday with a lap time of 21.719 seconds.
"[Richmond] is something you really have to learn. You have to be patient, and you have to race hard. You have to climb up on the wheel and make things happen here," added Bowyer, who won last year's spring Nationwide Series race here.
Richmond International Raceway's reputation for "Racing Perfection" has even stretched across the globe, having made an impression on Marcos Ambrose, a native of Australia and driver of the No. 59 Kingsford ride.
"I really like Richmond. It's a wonderful little track," Ambrose praised. "It has nice banking and is ¾-mile, which not many of our tracks are that size anymore. It's a great place to race because you run two, or three wide here. It's a lot of fun. The night racing is spectacular. I remember watching the [NASCAR] races [back home]. The Richmond race was always one I woke up for at 3 a.m. on a Sunday to watch because I knew it was going to be exciting."
Ambrose posted the fourth-fastest lap Tuesday night with a time of 21.749 seconds, and David Stremme rounded out the top five in the No. 64 Atreus Homes & Communities Chevrolet (21.768).
Dario Franchitti, winner of the 2007 SunTrust Indy Challenge IndyCar Series race at Richmond International Raceway, has made the switch to full-time Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series driving for 2008 and said the excitement of competing at America's Premier Short Track goes beyond the specific type of racing.
"I think no matter what you're racing here, whether it's an IndyCar, Nationwide Car, Sprint Cup car, or a Sprint Car, it produces great racing," Franchitti said. "The track really lends itself to great side-by-side racing. The fans here are awesome. It's a place I really enjoy coming to."
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.