Martin Fastest In Test At AMS

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HAMPTON, Ga. – With the Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 weekend only a week away, the garages were full on Wednesday at Atlanta Motor Speedway as 16 NASCAR Nextel Cup and Busch teams prepared their vehicles.

Mark Martin topped the unofficial speed chart during the day/night test, piloting his No. 6 Viagra Ford around the 1.54-mile quad-oval in 30.00 seconds (184.800 mph).

Martin also tested Monday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and then waited out the weather that hit metro Atlanta on Tuesday to stay and finish testing on Wednesday. It was a little longer than he intended to stay in Hampton, but Martin said it was worth it.

"With five races left, and the championship on the line, we have no room for error," Martin said. "We've got to have great finishes – and a lot of luck – to get back to the top."

Martin is fifth in the Nextel Cup standings, 186 points behind leader and teammate Kurt Busch. He knows that it isn't likely he'll be able to make up those points within the time remaining to earn that elusive first NASCAR championship, but he's not ready to give up yet.

"I think Martinsville will be our greatest challenge – we need to finish well there," Martin said. "I feel good about Atlanta, Darlington and Homestead, but again, we just need a little luck."

Second fastest during Wednesday's test was John Andretti in the No. 14 VB Ford with a lap around the fast track in 30.07 seconds (184.370 mph). Andretti finished second last weekend at Lowe's Motor Speedway in his debut with the new ppc Racing Nextel Cup team.

On the Busch side of the garage, Boston Reid led the unofficial speed chart wit a lap of 31.00 seconds (178.839 mph). Clint Bowyer was second fastest at 31.27 seconds (177.295 mph), while local racer Reed Sorenson was third. Sorenson's first laps in a Busch car at Atlanta were in the 173-mph range.

Sorenson, a former Thursday Thunder champion at AMS, last week earned his first career ASA win at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

"We have been trying for a win the past two years," Sorenson said, "Last week was really big for us."

However, even with all the excitement of a first-time victory, Sorenson had no trouble shifting his focus to next weekend's double duty. Sorenson will run both Friday's World Financial Group 150 and Saturday's Aaron's 312.

"I missed class yesterday to be here," Sorenson said, "We just want some laps to get some experience in these cars."

Sorenson and the rest of the NASCAR drivers will return to Atlanta Motor Speedway next weekend for the Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500. Great seats still remain, and three-day tickets start at just $69. For more information, call the Atlanta Motor Speedway ticket office at (770) 946-4211.

Unofficial Speed Results Nextel Cup:

#6-Martin – 30.00 seconds (184.800 mph)
#14-Andretti – 30.07 seconds (184.370 mph)
#43-Green – 30.38 seconds (182.488 mph)
#33-Earnhardt– 30.55 seconds (181.473 mph)
#17-Kenseth – 30.55 seconds (181.473 mph)
#02-Blaney – 30.58 seconds (181.295 mph)
#45-Petty – 30.82 seconds (179.883 mph)
#15-Waltrip – 31.04 seconds (178.436 mph)
#1-Truex Jr.- 31.12 seconds (178.149 mph)
#80-Yeley – 31.42 seconds (176.448 mph)
#41-Mears – 32.03 seconds (173.088 mph)

Busch:

#87-Reid – 31.00 seconds (178.839 mph)
#21-Bowyer – 31.27 seconds (177.295 mph)
#41-Sorenson – 32.03 seconds (173.088 mph)
#11-Menard – 31.73 seconds (174.724 mph)
#96 Crosby – 33.76seconds (154.218 mph)

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