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Pontiac gains speed among Busch drivers

By Staff
Amanda Vincent/NASCAR Columnist
Feb. 2, 2002
Preseason testing continued at Daytona International Speedway this past week with Busch teams taking to the track for four days, finishing up on Friday.
Joe Ruttman set the pace on Friday, posting the fastest non-drafting test time of the winter on the final day of testing with a lap of 48.402 seconds, an average speed of 185.943 mph. This was the fastest speed posted by a Busch Series, Winston Cup Series or Craftsman Truck Series machine. Ruttman was substituting in the No. 1 for regular driver, Jimmy Spencer.
Pontiacs dominated the second round of testing, claiming three of the
top-five positions. Perhaps that's why teams that don't normally compete in Pontiacs have chosen to utilize the manufacturer at restrictor plate races at Daytona and Talladega.
The No. 27 and 37 teams of Brewco Motorsports, usually piloting Chevrolets, competed with Pontiacs at Talladega and Daytona in 2002. That seems to be the plan again this year as both teams tested Pontiacs at the restrictor plate tracks this go-around.
Other Chevrolet teams that tried this approach in 2001 include those of Randy LaJoie and Joe Nemechek. Nemechek captured the pole in both restrictor plate races last season and both races were won in Pontiacs.
Apparently, that idea has caught on at Hendrick Motorsports as well. It's a
popular opinion in the garage the Pontiac Grand Prix seems to have an
advantage at these tracks under Busch Series rules.
Hendrick teams, with drivers Jack Sprague and Ricky Hendrick, elected to test both Chevrolets and Pontiacs.
would be the one we'd run," Sprague's crew chief Dennis Connor said.
Nemechek and LaJoie also tested both a Chevrolet and a Pontiac, as did Tony Raines and Michael Waltrip.
At the conclusion of Busch testing at Daytona, following is a run-down of the best laps:
1. No. 1, Joe Ruttman, Pontiac
2. No. 26, Lyndon Amick, Pontiac
3. No. 88, Jeff Fuller, Chevrolet
4. No. 33, Tony Raines, Chevrolet
5. No. 99, Michael Waltrip, Chevrolet
6. No. 74, Chad Little, Pontiac
7. No. 5, Ricky Hendrick, Chevrolet
8. No. 59, Stacy Compton, Chevrolet,
9. No. 24, Jack Sprague, Chevrolet
10. No. 37, Jeff Purvis, Pontiac
11. No. 3, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet
12. No. 33, Tony Raines, Pontiac
13. No. 19, Tim Sauter, Chevrolet
14. No. 24, Jack Sprague, Pontiac
15. No. 99, Michael Waltrip, Pontiac
16. No. 12, Kerry Earnhardt, Chevrolet
17. No. 21, Jeff Green, Chevrolet
18. No. 25, Bobby Hamilton Jr., Ford
19. No. 00, Tim Fedewa, Pontiac
20. No. 60, Greg Biffle, Ford
21. No. 10, Scott Riggs, Ford
22. No. 27, Jamie McMurray, Pontiac
23. No. 2, Johnny Sauter, Chevrolet
24. No. 36, Hank Parker Jr., Dodge
25. No. 86, Jeff Fultz, Chevrolet
26. No. 38, Christian Elder, Ford
27. No. 14, Larry Foyt, Chevrolet
28. No. 46, Ashton Lewis Jr., Chevrolet
29. No. 27, Jamie McMurray, Pontiac
30. No. 54, Kelly Denton, Chevrolet
31. No. 23, Scott Wimmer, Pontiac
32. No. 18, Mike McLaughlin, Pontiac
33. No. 92, Andy Houston, Chevrolet
34. No. 74, Chad Little, Chevrolet
35. No. 47, Shane Hmiel, Pontiac
36. No. 3, Jay Sauter, Chevrolet
37. No. 66, Casey Mears, Dodge
38. No. 5, Ricky Hendrick, Pontiac
39. No. 57, Jason Keller, Ford
40. No. 16, Chad Chaffin, Pontiac
41. No. 32, Dan Pardus, Chevrolet
42. No. 20, Coy Gibbs, Pontiac
43. No. 63, Shane Hall, Chevrolet
44. No. 95, Steadman Marlin, Ford
45. No. 67, C.W. Smith, Pontiac
46. No. 14, Larry Foyt, Pontiac
47. No. 77, Andy Kirby, Ford
48. No. 94, Jeff Spraker, Chevrolet
49. No. 63, Ken Alexander, Chevrolet
50. No. 22, David Boggs, Chevrolet