After months of speculation, rumor and innuendo, the wraps came off the new NASCAR Ford Tauruses Friday at Daytona International Speedway.
This time, it wasn't a midwinter test session, and the cars had to go through NASCAR Winston Cup director Gary Nelson's "House of Horrors," otherwise known as technical inspection.So the Fords that took to the high-banked, 2.5-mile speedway oval Friday for the first day of practice for the Feb. 15 Daytona 500 were legal - and they were fast.
In fact, other than the Chevrolet Monte Carlo driven by two-time Winston Cup champion Terry Labonte, which led everybody with a lap of 192.193 mph, Fords were right near the top of the list.
Rusty Wallace was second-fastest with a lap of 190.686, followed by Chevy driver and defending pole winner Mike Skinner at 190.428, former Daytona winner Derrike Cope at 190.355 in a Pontiac Grand Prix, Jimmy Spencer at 190.299 and Greg Sacks 190.138, both in Tauruses, and defending race winner and Labonte teammate Jeff Gordon at 189.958 in a Monte Carlo.
"I just laid out everything I had a little while ago and, hopefully, we can find a little more," Wallace said. "We haven't done everything for the full blown qualifying package, but we're 99.8 percent of the way there.
"I'm shooting for the front row but that (No.) 5 car (Labonte) is just fast as lightning. He's way above everybody."
"We're good, and that's scary," said Labonte, whose Hendrick Motorsports team chose to sit out the last practice of the day. "We're ready to qualify. That's why we're afraid to run any more. We might mess something up."