Marlin Wasting No Time

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Sterling Marlin wasted no time on Monday at Daytona International Speedway as he topped day one for the second round of NEXTEL Cup testing during Jackson Hewitt Preseason Thunder.

The two-time Daytona 500 winner bested Scott Riggs' Valvoline Dodge for the best speed of the day at 187.110 mph.

Today marked Marlin’s debut with MB2 Motorsports and ironically it comes with the same team that Riggs was with last season.

Last week, MB2 was also on the top of the charts with Bill Elliott who had the second overall single car speed at 188.025 mph.

"I've won a couple of Daytona 500's, Bill has, and Joe has won races here and sat on poles here," said Marlin. "The MB2 guys really work hard. It's been a long time since Bill has come in here and been the fastest in practice, and all the credit goes to all the hard work done at Hendrick motors."

Jamie McMurray got off to a fast start with his new Roush Racing team when he placed the No. 26a as the only Ford in the top five with a lap of 186.494 mph in the afternoon.

The overall top five didn’t change much in the two sessions, as Marlin, Riggs and McMurray all placed top-five times in both. Marlin was the only driver to put both of his cars in the top five in both rounds.

Kyle Busch continued Hendrick Motorsports' torrid pace in testing by leading the morning session with a lap of 186.629 mph in the No. 5 Chevrolet.

"Everything went well today - I was happy with the new Chevrolet has acted for us," said Busch. "I think it's definitely going to be a good race car. It's all about trying to fine-tune those little areas a little further and being able to get a slicker race car."

Marlin’s teammate Joe Nemechek broke into the top five in the afternoon as he set the fourth fastest lap at 186.405 mph. This year the two drivers will reunite for the first time since working at SABCO together in 1999.

"I am looking forward to this year," said Nemechek. "Sterling used to be my teammate. He stayed there (SABCO) longer than I did. But we ran good together, we communicated well, and both our cars ran well."

Other cars among the 60 in attendance that performed well posting times in the overall top 10 were the No. 25a of David Green (testing for Brian Vickers) at 186.278 mph, Greg Biffle's No. 16b (186.139 mph) and rookie Clint Bowyer's lap of 186.020 mph in his No. 07a.

Drivers that were down on the charts in both sessions - with both cars - included Kevin Harvick, Robby Gordon, Mike Wallace, Dave Blaney and rookie Brent Sherman.

Testing will continue on Tuesday.

Tomorrow fans will be able to enter the NEXTEL FANZONE at Daytona. The day will feature a Fan Fest with displays and driver question and answer sessions. The cost is $15 to enter. Fans also can watch each day's test session for free in the grandstands by Daytona USA, beginning at 9 a.m.

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