Rudd Fastest In Lowes Test

CONCORD, N.C. - Ricky Rudd has never won a race at Lowe's Motor Speedway, but he's got a bit of a jump on the competition this time around.

Rudd, who has hasn't visited victory lane in 51 previous races at LMS, was fastest Monday among 17 Winston Cup Series drivers preparing for the May 26 Coca-Cola 600. Rudd fashioned a fast lap of 179.223 mph around the 1.5-mile track.

Most teams were concentrating on race-day setups instead of qualifying runs Monday. Rookie Jimmie Johnson, who has been very impressive early on this season, was had the second fastest unofficial test speed at 178.571 mph. Mark Martin was third (178.159), Casey Atwood was fourth (177.924), followed by Bobby Hamilton, Dave Blaney, Bill Elliott, Jeremy Mayfield, Robby Gordon and Rick Mast.

Bobby Hamilton Jr., who appeared on his way to his first career Busch Series victory last weekend at Richmond before he ran out of fuel in the waning laps, had the fastest Busch Series test speed Monday afternoon at 173.633 mph. Hamilton Jr. was fastest among 22 Busch drivers present on Monday testing in preparation for the May 25 CARQUEST Auto Parts 300.

Jack Sprague, second in the Busch Series points standings, was second at 173.410 mph. Jeff Burton was third at 173.244 mph.

"This is a slick old race track when it gets hot," said Sprague, who won the pole for the Busch Series race at LMS back in 1991. "We chased the track all day and we finally got it pretty good there at the end."

"This is the same car we won with at Darlington," Burton said. "This is a typical deal where we spent all day chasing the track."

There were a pair of single-car accidents Monday. In Winston Cup practice, Stacy Compton lost control of his No. 14 Pontiac and hit the wall, but was uninjured. Former Indy Car driver Roberto Guerrero spun out in Busch Series practice and hit the wall as well, but was not hurt.

Testing will conclude Tuesday for both the Winston Cup and Busch Series cars.

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