Before last week, Shane Hmiel was just driving in the NASCAR Busch Series. But during Wednesday¿s test at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Hmiel was preparing to run all three races during next weekend¿s Golden Corral 500 weekend.
Hmiel will start the weekend in the World Financial Group 200 Craftsman Truck race on Friday (March 18), then compete in the Aaron¿s 312 Busch race on Saturday (March 19) and finish up with the Golden Corral 500 on Sunday (March 20).
Hmiel was testing his NEXTEL Cup car on Wednesday and turning the fastest laps of 2005, as he circled the 1.54-mile fast track in 29.26 seconds (189.424 mph).
"We¿ve got a really good car right now," Hmiel said. "If we come back next weekend and it drives like this, then we¿ll be looking for a top-10 qualifying spot. We¿ve got a good car, and that¿s all we can ask for."
Hmiel sounds confident ¿ and he should. His times Wednesday were faster than those of four-time pole sitter Ryan Newman, who tested at Atlanta on Monday and Tuesday but was admittedly not looking for speed.
"Being fastest today doesn¿t mean much," Hmiel said. "But it¿s nice to be fast."
Hmiel was expected to test his Busch Series car Wednesday but instead showed up with the No. 08 Win Fuel NEXTEL Cup car. Hmiel said he felt he needed the extra practice in the Cup car, which he will have to qualify on speed to make the Golden Corral 500.
"Atlanta isn¿t a place I struggle with, so we don¿t want to burn the test in Busch," Hmiel said. "And we tested the truck last week, so we feel like we¿re in a good position for next weekend."
It will be his second time competing in all three NASCAR series in one weekend; he also did triple duty last season at Homestead.
Hmiel was joined at Wednesday¿s test session by fellow NEXTEL Cup driver Mike Wallace and Craftsman Truck Series drivers Bill Lester, Johnny Benson, Chad Chaffin, Mike Skinner, Todd Bodine, Regan Smith, Jack Sprague, Robert Huffman, Brandon Whitt, and Shigeaki Hattori.
Skinner, who finished second to Bobby Hamilton last year in a dramatic last-lap duel, expects another exciting finish to this year¿s race. He¿s just hoping for a different outcome this time.
"I would love to see the same kind of racing," Skinner said, "It¿s always exciting here."
Skinner lead was the fastest among the truck teams with a lap time of 30.44 seconds (181.414 mph).
"We¿ve always run well here," Skinner said. "We¿re real fast on new tires so right now we have some old ones on it. We¿re just trying to make it good through the long runs."
Tickets are still available for the entire weekend of racing. Tickets start at $30 and three-day packages are $65 and can be purchased at (877) 9-AMS-TIX (877-926-7849), or by visiting www.AtlantaMotorSpeedway.com.