From staff reports
Most of the time when teams test at Atlanta Motor Speedway, they are looking for tenths of a second.
When Busch Series regular Scott Wimmer tested a Winston Cup car for Bill Davis Racing on Monday, he was looking for far more than a little bit of speed.
Wimmer was trying to decide if his entry into the Oct. 26 Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 Winston Cup event would be a Dodge or a Chevrolet.
"We don't really have a loyalty to either make, so we can take the liberty of seeing if our Chevy or our Dodge is better at Atlanta and running whichever one is faster," Wimmer said.
But Wimmer wasn't the only NASCAR regular on-track Monday. Two Craftsman Truck Series drivers - Rick Crawford and Carl Edwards - also took to the track, testing primarily for the inaugural 200-mile truck series event just added to Atlanta's 2004 schedule.
Crawford spent time in both his 2003 No. 14 Circle Bar Motel/RV Park Ford and the new 2004 model. Edwards, a rookie at Roush Racing, tested both his own No. 99 Superchips Ford and the No. 50 Graham For President Ford of his teammate, Jon Wood.
As expected, Wimmer set the fastest laps of the test, piloting the No. 27 Chevrolet around the 1.54-mile track in 30.1 seconds (184.186 mph).
Crawford led the trucks with a 31.35-second lap (176.846 mph) in his 2003 Ford; he also wheeled the new 2004 Ford around the track in 31.64 seconds (175.221 mph). Edwards was third fastest on the day with a lap at 176.056 mph.
Wimmer ran both car makes on Monday, testing for comfort, speed and adjustability in each, despite a fever that kept him wrapped up in a heavy winter coat for most of the 70-degree day.
"More than benefiting me as a driver, this test will benefit all
three Bill Davis Cup teams, as well as my Busch Series team," Wimmer said. "As much as I am going to work to make the Cup race at Atlanta, I'm really here to help all the Bill Davis teams and to figure out which is the better car here."
Wimmer runs Chevrolets in the Busch Series, while Bill Davis' Cup entries are Dodges.
After making his first Winston Cup start at Atlanta in 2000, Wimmer tried to make the fall race at Atlanta last year, but qualifying was rained out, sending his Cup team home. He is certain he would have made the race otherwise.
"Atlanta's always been one of the places where I've run really
well," Wimmer said. "It's surprising, really, because I've always struggled on one-and-a-half-mile tracks. I gain speed each time I visit Atlanta. It looks like we're in a pretty good place for qualifying in October."
And after the eight-hour test session Monday was complete, Wimmer and his Bill Davis Racing team had they answer they came for: Chevrolet.
"Right now, the Chevrolet feels much better than the Dodge," said Wimmer, who also cited Chevrolet's winning percentage at Atlanta. A Chevrolet has taken the checkered flag 29 times at Atlanta, including five of the last eight races - more than any other make.
Festivities for the Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 Weekend kick off on Friday, Oct. 24 with Georgia-Pacific Qualifying Night. Saturday plays host to the Aaron's 312 Busch Series race, as well as Winston Cup "Happy Hour."
The Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 Winston Cup race will be held on Sunday, Oct. 26.