Defending champion Carl Edwards led the way in NASCAR Nationwide Series practice Tuesday at Lowe's Motor Speedway as teams made final preparations for the May 24 Carquest 300.
Edwards, the 2006 winner of the race, circled the 1.5-mile track in 29.555 seconds, at an average speed of 182.710 mph, in the No. 60b Roush Fenway Racing Ford. Edwards' lap was fastest of the two-day session, topping the 182.217 mark set Monday night by Denny Hamlin in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
Defending race winner Kasey Kahne was third fastest in the No. 9 Gillett Evernham Motorsports Dodge and veteran Jason Keller was fourth on the official speed chart at 180.584 in the No. 11 CJM Racing Chevrolet.
For veteran Mike Bliss, the two-day session was his first opportunity to test since joining James Finch's No. 1 Chevrolet team in early April.
"We are still learning about traveling the race cars. Some teams have already got it perfected and some teams are still working on it," Bliss explained.
"Myself, I hadn't tested with them yet, so this is a good chance for us to try stuff that I think would work and what they think would work. As a team, we are still getting better, but we're not as good as teams that have been together for a year or two."
Bliss also expressed displeasure with NASCAR's tampered carburetor spacer that was mandated this season and is being used at Lowe's Motor Speedway for the first time. Teams say the spacer cuts 80 horsepower from the engine.
"We're probably running the same speed, we're just running through the corners harder, putting more pressure on the tires," Bliss said. "There just is not enough motor there to accelerate up off the corner."
David Reutimann also noted that the carburetor spacer has changed how teams adjust the handling on their Nationwide Series cars.
"You have to keep the cars freed up because they don't have the horsepower," said the driver of the No. 99 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota.
"We are just trying to free the car up to make it run faster. We're trying a bunch of stuff on the front end and doing a bunch of stuff so we can run as close to wide open as possible."
"The test was pretty decent for the No. 88 Navy team," said Brad Keselowski. "Our teammates with the No. 83 Navy Chevrolet weren't as fortunate (David Green wrecked Dale Earnhardt's No. 83 on Monday). Between that and our rough weekend at Darlington, we really focused on getting through the test with both of our No. 88 Chevys intact.
"The biggest thing for us was to keep our two cars in one piece and hopefully learn something. You don't have to be the fastest car on the charts to learn. We came here to learn, and hopefully leave with something we could apply when we come back next weekend. We were successful with that, so overall it was a good test for us." Keselowski concluded.
The only serious incident of the day took place at 6:40 p.m. when Reutimann lost control of his No. 99 Toyota and slammed the outside SAFER barrier. Reutimann, who was evaluated and released from the Carolinas HealthCare System Infield Medical Center, said the car just "snapped around."
The start of testing was delayed 70 minutes due to track repairs. Cars hit the track shortly after 2 p.m. and the session ran until 9 p.m.