Jarrett sets Daytona pace

Dale Jarrett stepped up the pace on the second day of testing at Daytona as the Ford driver became the first to break the 186mph barrier since restrictrictor plates were pegged down slightly from last year. But as the teams got used to their 2005 mounts, speeds are beginning rise significantly

Jarrett sets Daytona pace

Jarrett, just a shade behind Tuesday leader Jeff Gordon on the opening day, clocked a lap in 48.269sec (186.455mph). Gordon, who ran 48.705s in the morning, was second in the afternoon with a time of 48.456s, about a tenth better than his best of opening day.

Greg Biffle was third fastest in both of Wednesday's sessions, with Jeremy Mayfield, Boris Said, Elliott Sadler and Ricky Rudd also consistently quick over the last two days.

Meanwhile, defending Daytona 500 champion Dale Earnhardt Jr, trying out new crew chief Pete Rondeau, remained in the middle of the pack, at least in the lone-wolf runs which predict qualifying. Junior was 20th in both outings (among 26 drivers), up to 0.6sec behind the leaders, but he seemed not to be concerned.

"There are a lot of things we haven't done to the car that we'll have on the car when we come back to race," he said. "We've just been going down the list of things we want to try to see what helps and what doesn't.

"We'll figure it out. I'm not too worried about it. I think the cars draft well. If we have to start near the back, we'll just cut up through the pack."

Mike McLaughlin, subbing for Tony Stewart in the Joe Gibbs Racing Chevy, crept into the top 10 in both sessions. Stewart, with a demanding schedule of other events, is taking time off, with crew chief Greg Zipadelli saying that the driver doesn't matter much in tests at the restricted tracks.

NASCAR also began to put out word that it will ask the car factories to begin thinking about a new engine platform for introduction in the next two or three years. It was not stated whether this move indicates a move toward a more "common" engine, much as NASCAR has done with the car bodies since 2002.

Dale Jarrett (Ford), 48.269s, 186.455mph
Jeff Gordon (Chevrolet), 48.456s, 185.736mph
Greg Biffle (Ford), 48.624s, 185.094mph
Jeremy Mayfield (Dodge), 48.656s, 184.972mph
Elliott Sadler (Ford), 48.668s, 184.926mph
Mike Bliss (Chevrolet), 48.691s, 184.839mph
Randy LaJoie (Chevrolet), 48.693s, 184.831mph
Boris Said (Chevrolet), 48.695s, 184.824mph
Kurt Busch (Ford), 48.773s, 184.528mph
Mike McLaughlin (Chevrolet), 48.787s, 184.475mph

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