Nemechek tops practice

Joe Nemechek just pipped Jeff Gordon at the top of the practice timesheets for Saturday's Budweiser Shootout, as the pair proved to be the most consistent men out on the track

Nemechek tops practice

The two men put in nearly identical lap times in the late afternoon and early evening sessions, with the pair being separated by little more than one hundredth of a second at the end of the day. All of the quick times were done in drafts, as opposed to during the solo runs which had been the case during January's pre-Daytona 500 testing.

"The car is fast," said Nemechek. "I've been able to pass high and low. But it's driving right, and that's the most important thing for this race."

There was some more worried faces further down the order as tyre problems appeared for several runners - including Dale Earnhandt Jr. The tyres appeared to be blistering and coming away from the carcass after about 30 laps - slightly less than a normal stint at the event.

Nemechek said he was baffled by the tyre problems for other drivers. "I don't know what's going on with the tyre, I guess we need to take a look at that. You hope you don't have these types of things happening. We hope it's just one incident here for us. We've had two tyres that have done it. It seems to be doing it on our right on the tread splice where the tread comes together."

There were other dramas, especially when Casey Mears cut across the front of Ricky Rudd's car in the draft and spun himself out - causing minor damage to both cars. Mears later apologised for the incident.

Kasey Kahne also suffered an engine failures, which means he will have to start from the back of the field for the Shootout, having been drawn in 13th place.



Joe Nemechek, No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet, 47.039sec/191.290mph
Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, 47.051/191.282
Casey Mears, No. 41 Target Dodge, 47.069/191.209
Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet, 47.072/191.196
Jeremy Mayfield, No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge, 47.109/191.046
Bobby Labonte, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet, 47.349/190.078
Ricky Rudd, No. 21 Motorcraft Ford, 47.396/189.889
Ryan Newman, No. 12 Alltel Dodge, 47.414/189.817
Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet, 47.424/189.777
Brian Vickers, No. 25 GMAC Chevrolet, 48.498/189.482

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