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Truex, Kahne top 188 as test speeds pick up
By wire services
Published January 21, 2005
DAYTONA BEACH - Speeds picked up at Daytona International Speedway as teams began drafting in packs Thursday on the 21/2-mile oval.
Martin Truex Jr. and Kasey Kahne turned in the top speeds in two weeks of testing for the season-opening Daytona 500.
Kahne, last year's top NASCAR Nextel Cup rookie, set the pace in the morning practice with a lap of 188.088 mph in an Evernham Motorsports Dodge Charger. Truex, the defending Busch series champion who will drive a limited Cup schedule for Dale Earnhardt Inc., topped the afternoon session with a 188.798 in a Chevrolet.
Prior to Thursday, the fastest lap of the preseason was the 186.455 turned in a week ago by Dale Jarrett in a Robert Yates Racing Ford.
Among the other fast drivers Thursday were Jeff Green, 188.052; Rusty Wallace, 187.931; Brian Vickers, 187.903; Jimmie Johnson, 187.805; Joe Nemechek, 187.731; Scott Riggs, 187.707; Matt Kenseth, 187.680; Scott Wimmer, 187.645, and Sterling Marlin, 187.641.
QUALIFYING UPDATE: The unique qualifying format for the season-opening Daytona 500 has been given a facelift.
The front row for the Feb. 20 race will still be locked in after qualifying. After that, the new procedure for setting the starting lineup kicks in.
Nextel Cup director John Darby, in announcing the changes, noted that the top 35 in last year's owners points are assured a spot in the 43-car Daytona lineup. The order will be determined by qualifying on Feb. 13 and by twin 150-mile qualifying races on Feb. 17.
Darby said the starting order for those races, each extended by 25 miles and renamed the Gatorade Duel, will be set by qualifying. The top 35 in points will be divided between the two, with the teams finishing in odd-numbered positions in 2004 in the first race and the even-numbered finishers in the second.
Teams that didn't finish in the top 35 will make the twin lineups by virtue of their Daytona qualifying. Starting positions in the 500-mile main event will be determined by results of the 150-milers.
Filling out the lineup will be the top two non-top-35 finishers from each of the twin events and the remaining fastest drivers from qualifying.
The 43rd spot in the lineup will be held at each race for any former series champion who is not among the top 35 or does not make the field through speed. At Daytona, that option probably will not be needed because all the active past champs except Terry Labonte and Bill Elliott, who are not entered, are among the top 35.
F1 SQUABBLE: Ferrari has signed a new Formula One deal through 2012, boosting F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone's chances of retaining control of the sport he has run for 25 years.
FIA, the world governing body of motorsport, said Ferrari "had agreed to prolong the Concorde Agreement for the period 2008-2012." The agreement is a contract covering F1 teams, Ecclestone and the FIA. It spells out how the sport is run and how its revenues are divided.
The new deal could fend off the breakaway threat of Grand Prix World Championship, a company owned by four major carmakers in F1 - Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault and BMW. GPWC had announced plans to wrest control of the sport from Ecclestone and run the series beginning in 2008.
Ferrari's move is significant considering the Italian-based team is the richest and most powerful in the sport.
Other F1 owners, blindsided by Ferrari's agreement, will meet in London on Tuesday to discuss the accord.
"There appears to have been no prior consultation with any of the other teams," Toyota manager Tsutomu Tomita said. "The announcement has come as a surprise."