It's silent now at Daytona International Speedway after nearly a month of testing for NASCAR's top three series during NASCAR Preseason Thunder ended with the final day of Busch Series preparation yesterday [Wednesday].

Jason Leffler (#00 Haas Automation Chevrolet) ended testing for the 14 February Hershey's Kisses 300 season-opener on a high note by setting the overall fastest time for the entire four-day test. Leffler ran the 2.5mile facility at a speed of 181.156mph in the afternoon session, which was the last before a two-hour drafting practice in which few teams chose to participate.

Only two other drivers - Joe Nemechek (#87 CellularOne Chevrolet) at 181.097 and Dale Earnhardt Jr (#8 Bass Pro Shops/Yum Brands Inc./Kraft Nabisco Chevrolet) at 181.036 - topped the 181mph mark during the Busch Series portion of Preseason Thunder.

In Wednesday's final session, which was reserved for drafting, Robby Gordon (#55x Fruit of the Loom Chevrolet) tested at 180.560mph while running alone on the track. Rain prevented the first group of cars from having any drafting practice on 19 January, and only three cars actually hooked up in a draft on Wednesday.

Leffler had a phenomenal tune-up for the 2004 NASCAR Busch Series season opener as, on Tuesday, he ran the two fastest times in separate cars during both the morning and afternoon sessions. In Wednesday's morning session, he was fastest at 179.910mph and third-quickest in the second session at 179.508mph.

"To say we're going to come down here and sit on the pole is being overzealous, but we do know we have two good race cars," Leffler said, "It's good. We're a new team, but a lot of guys on our crew ... we've all been around. We have good equipment and we all know what to do. I'm just looking forward to coming back here and racing, and to the rest of the season.

"Whether you're racing go-karts or [Nextel] Cup racing, winning at Daytona is special. For us, being a new team, to start the year off with a win is just incredible no matter where it's at. I mean, it would really be special. Hopefully, we can do that. There's a lot of work that lies ahead, and just hopefully, the rest of Speedweeks goes as smooth [as the test]."

Leading performances (non-drafting):

Jason Leffler Chevrolet 181.156mphJoe Nemechek Chevrolet 181.097mphDale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 181.036,phJohnny Sauter Pontiac 180.814mphMartin Truex Jr Chevrolet 180.346mphMike Wallace Ford 180.191mphKevin Harvick Chevrolet 180.144mphCurtis Markham Chevrolet 180.094mphCW Smith Chevrolet 179.896mphRobby Gordon Chevrolet 179.881mphDavid Green Pontiac 179.827mphPaul Wolf Dodge 179.612mphJason Leffler Chevrolet 179.508mphMike Bliss Chevrolet 179.472mphLarry Hollenbeck Chevrolet 179.304mphRobert Pressley Ford 179.286mphRon Hornaday Chevrolet 179.169mphKyle Busch Chevrolet 179.126mphMichael Waltrip Chevrolet 179.115mphKyle Busch Chevrolet 178.934mphDavid Stremme Dodge 178.813mphKevin Harvick Chevrolet 178.363mphPaul Menard Chevrolet 178.373mphCasey Atwood Chevrolet 178.370mphKenny Wallace Chevrolet 178.348mphJohnny Benson Dodge 178.327mphRon Hornaday Chevrolet 178.267mphJustin Ashburn Chevrolet 178.246mphMark Martin Ford 178.183mphKasey Kahne Dodge 178.147mphAshton Lewis Chevrolet 178.094mphLarry Gunselman Chevrolet 178.024mphJason Keller Ford 178.003mphMike Wallace Ford 177.996mphMike Harmon Chevrolet 177.771mphTim Fedewa Chevrolet 177.736mphHermie Sadler Pontiac 177.732mphKenny Wallace Chevrolet 177.630mphRon Hornaday Chevrolet 177.532mphRick Markle Chevrolet 177.539mphRegan Smith Chevrolet 177.529mphStan Boyd Ford 177.410mphCW Smith Chevrolet 177.385mphDavid Keith Ford 177.371mphJohnny Benson Dodge 177.124mphRobby Gordon Chevrolet 177.106mphGreg Biffle Ford 176.995mphCasey Atwood Chevrolet 176.984mphKasey Kahne Dodge 176.929mphStanton Barrett Pontiac 176.824mphBobby Hamilton Jr Ford 176.758mphTim Fedewa Chevrolet 176.640mphPaul Menard Chevrolet 176.633mphMark Martin Ford 176.488mphGus Wasson Chevrolet 176.322mphJason Schuler Ford 175.977mphRobby Benton Ford 174.825mphKim Crosby Pontiac 174.642mphDonnie Neuenberger Ford 174.625mphStacy Compton Ford 174.503mphRandy Briggs Chevrolet 174.442mphRobert Pressley Ford 174.165mphDonnie Neuenberger Ford 173.655mphStacy Compton Ford 172.203mph

 

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