Gordon Reclaims Fastest Lap

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Jeff Gordon just keeps getting faster each time he goes on the track.

The four time NEXTEL Cup champion reclaimed his spot on top of the speed charts with a lap speed of 188.466 mph during Tuesday afternoon’s Jackson Hewitt Preseason Thunder test session at Daytona International Speedway.

This was the second time the defending Daytona 500 winner saw his name atop the charts, as he set the best lap after Monday morning’s opening session.

After an off-season that saw various changes, Gordon is displaying with his on track performance that he is looking forward to a new start in 2006.

"We're definitely going through some changes in the off season, and I think they are all positive ones that just build around (crew chief) Steve Letarte as the leader of this team and given me the cars that I need and us and all around the best effort to go out there and win races and championships. I don't think that we're there today, but I think by the time the Chase comes around, I think that we will be."

Bill Elliott, who previously held the fastest lap during this week’s test session, came in second in his No. 36a car. His Chevrolet had a fast time of 188.025 during the afternoon.

"Everything felt good again today," said Elliott, who will drive the No. 36 Chevrolet from the MB2 Motorsports stable in the Budweiser Shootout and the Daytona 500. "We've made great progress in two short days and feel good about coming back here next month for the big show. All systems are go."

Elliott Sadler continued to be the fastest of the five Ford’s in the field, as he improved his previous best in his No. 38a car with a speed of 187.594 mph.

Jimmie Johnson remained close to Hendrick Motorsports teammate Gordon by setting the fourth best time in the afternoon with a best lap speed of 187.582 mph. The effort was an improvement in his 48 car, which was the sole car he used during the two days of testing at Daytona. He will use the second car the team bought down during tomorrow’s sessions.

Matt Kenseth rounded out the top five on the day with a best lap speed of 186.982 mph.

Jeremy Mayfield set the best speed of the day for the Dodge contingency. His effort of 186.521 mph in his No. 19a put him in eighth place overall on the charts, behind Sadler’s No. 38b and Mike Mclaughlin’s No. 20a efforts.

Bobby Labonte (186.070 mph) and Jeff Burton (185.935) completed the top 10 from Tuesday’s period.

All of the drivers in the top 10 set their best times of the week during this session.

The teams will return tomorrow for the completion of this week’s NEXTEL Cup preseason test session. After two days of single car practice, tomorrow’s test will focus on drafting practice around the 2.5-mile track.

Fans are welcomed to watch the session for free in the grandstands by Daytona USA, beginning at 9 a.m.

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