Atlanta native Mike Garvey made laps at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Wednesday, becoming the first American Speed Association (ASA) racer to drive on the 1.54-mile high banked oval since it was reconfigured in 1997.

Testing at least 10 tire combinations for BF Goodrich in preparation for the fall 2004 ASA race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Garvey ran a top speed of 170.218 mph (32.57 seconds).

ASA President and CEO Steve Dale, also a Georgia native, was expecting the fiberglass-bodied ASA stock cars to turn fast laps before Garvey ever took to the track.

¿We aren¿t going to be Winston Cup fast, but what will amaze everybody is that we have 350 less horsepower and our speeds are still very close,¿ Dale said. NASCAR Winston Cup drivers generally test in the 30-second range, while the qualifying record is 28.074 seconds.

Dale said the team spent most of Wednesday looking for the right tire compound and would spend Thursday working on speed and stability.

¿So far, everything is going exactly like we expected it to,¿ Dale said. ¿That¿s a very positive thing. The more I watch Mike (Garvey) on track, the more excited I get about bringing this series to race here.¿

Garvey, 41, has 17 victories in the ASA Series and has finished in the top 10 in points in five of his six ASA seasons. He raced at Atlanta Motor Speedway with the Busch Series in 1994, finishing 25th.

¿I have always loved this track,¿ Garvey said. ¿It was my favorite track the Busch Series ran on, and I have a lot of good memories of racing here. I can¿t wait to get on this new configuration with other cars.¿

ASA last visited Atlanta in 1984 but will makes its return to the track on October 29, 2004, following Georgia-Pacific Qualifying Night. Atlanta is only one of the new tracks on the ASA schedule next season, as the series is making a concerted move toward running at ¿bigger, shinier¿ speedways, Dale said.

¿Our cars deserve to be at these speedways, and certainly our drivers do,¿ Dale said. ¿We¿ll put on a great race for the fans. Our motto is ¿We Build Champions¿ ... and we don¿t take that lightly.¿

The ASA series does have a history of cultivating future Winston Cup champions. Darrell Waltrip, Mark Martin, Rusty Wallace and Alan Kulwicki all got their racing starts in ASA.

¿Looking at the history of the ASA and how many Winston Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck Series drivers developed their driving careers in ASA is amazing,¿ Dale said. ¿More than 40 current NASCAR drivers have run the in the ASA.¿

ASA teams will run a 100-lap event as part of next fall¿s Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 weekend. Tickets for the Oct. 29-31, 2004 Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 weekend will be on sale soon through the Atlanta Motor Speedway ticket office and Ticketmaster.