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Earnhardt Racing News and Rumors
page 4

Is Todays Racing Boring

Silly Season - Silly Ending....What an ending to one of the silliest, not just "Silly Seasons", but Winston Cup Season we have ever witnessed. So the ending was fitting. There have been more driver changes, more uncertainty about rule changes, more teams uncertain about their futures than in any season I can remember. So to take almost 11 hours to finish the seasons last race, which was the end of a 16 race non-stop, no break second half of the season shouldn't be surprising.

Jeff Gordon won his 13th race of the season in what has been promoted as tying the "King's", Richard Petty's, "modern day record". Well, for those who haven't been watching our beloved sport for more than just a few years, here is some interestings stats, courtesy of the Wizards, for you to sink your teeth into......

1963-Richard Petty-14 Wins, 1964-Ned Jarrett-15 Wins, 1967-Richard Petty-27 Wins- in 48 races, 1968-Richard Petty and David Pearson-16 Wins, 1969-Bobby Isaac-17 Wins, 1970-Richard Petty-18 Wins, 1971-Richard Petty-21 Wins- in 46 races, 1975-Richard Petty-13 wins in 30 races (Not in 33 races as Gordon did this year), And if ya really wanna get technical......1987-Dale Earnhardt-11 Wins in only 29 races.

Rain not only slowed the start, NASCAR showed the red flag just 40 laps into the race for two hours and 38 minutes as a heavy storm passed over the speedway. Almost three hours later, the field circled AMS at 70 mph for 19 more laps, agonizingly close to going green.

The rains returned. Hard.

NASCAR was initially inclined to postpone the race, despite new night lighting, because the drivers hadn't practiced for that eventuality at one of the fastest tracks on the schedule. But the forecast for the next day wasn't promising and teams wanted to end this endless season. On Sunday.

Almost eight hours after the NAPA 500 was to begin, drivers belted up for a third and final time - 8:55 p.m. EST, and the second red flag period ended after four hours and one minute, four hours after sundown. The cars ran several dozen caution laps to dry the track, then came in for gas. Pit Road looked like a demolition derby. While there was plenty of bent sheet metal, all drove on intact.

Finally, finally.. at 9:40 PM, what was initially an afternoon race now returned to green flag racing on lap 87as a night race.

Racing was fast, furious and four-wide at times as the impatient drivers learned their cars handled well in traffic, thanks to NASCAR abandoning the much-loathed "5 and 5" spoiler/air dam rule for this event.

At lap 128, NASCAR threw a mandatory caution to check tire wear.

Sterling Marlin's blown engine and subsequent oil brought out the caution on lap 141 and sidelined him for the first time all season. Gordon, who took the lead in his 26th race of the year on lap 99, got another good restart on lap 145.

At the halfway point - 10:29 PM EST - Gordon led Jeff Burton by two seconds, trailed by Nemechek, Jarrett, WBurton , Martin and Wallace. Nemechek suffered engine problems a few laps later, giving up the 25th points spot to Brett Bodine on the way.

The NAPA 500 was not only rain delayed but NASCAR then threw a mandatory caution on lap 192 in an apparent effort to avoid high-speed green flag stops. After the cars pitted, NASCAR announced just 25 green flag laps would be run and two-tire stops put Skinner, Earnhardt, Todd Bodine, Schrader and Jimmy Spencer at the front of the field for a single file restart on lap 197.

The first accident caution of the race flew two laps later when Gordon was passing Morgan Shepherd on the low side, bumped him turn one, and sent Shepherd hard into the wall. Shepherd got out on his own power and appeared upset at the new champion. Gordon went on with no significant damage.

Gordon's four-tire change during the previous caution helped him pick off fifth place, but Jarrett got underneath at the same time and got fourth. With ten to go, Jarrett took the lead as Gordon got by Skinner for second. Manufacturer's bragging rights were on the line as the pair pulled away from the field. Gordon took the lead with six to go and drove away as though he's just been given a fresh car. Jarrett, scheduled for gall bladder surgery the next day, held onto second for third in the season points championship. Bobby Hamilton sealed tenth in the biggest bragging rights category - the right to earn a trip to New York to pick up a large check on stage.

Earnhardt, who started 37th, finished 13th and clinched the eighth position in the points standing.

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Rule Changes for Atlanta...NASCAR officials announced Monday that modifications to the rear spoilers and front air dams for all makes of cars will go into effect for this weekend's NAPA 500 NASCAR Winston Cup event at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The Chevrolet Monte Carlo will be required to maintain a rear spoiler size of 6.50 inches in height (up from five inches) and 57 inches in width. Rear spoilers on the Pontiac Grand Prix must be 6.875 inches in height (up from 5.37 inches) and 57 inches wide. The Ford Taurus will maintain a rear spoiler of 6.25 inches in height (up from 4.75 inches) and 55 inches in width. All models will be required to maintain a minimum rear spoiler angle of 65 degrees. Front air dams on all cars will now be required to have a 3.50-inch ground clearance. This represents a reduction of 1.50 inches on Fords and Chevrolets, and a 1.125-inch reduction for the Pontiacs.(11-3-98)(The Williams Co)

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Stock-car teams awaiting word on new spoiler rule...Stock-car teams should know today or Tuesday if NASCAR will change aerodynamic rules for Sunday's season-finale in Atlanta.

NASCAR's Gary Nelson has been leaning toward changing the spoiler rules, raising the rear spoilers 1 1/2 inches and lowering the front air dam 1 1/2 inches, to make the cars handle better in the corners.

The spoiler change, which will almost certainly come next season if not this week, would provide a major increase in downforce, helping cars corner better -- and faster.(11-02-98)(Journal Now)

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NASCAR could change the spoiler rule before the end of the season...NASCAR is considering raising rear spoilers by 1 1/2 inches, lowering the front air dam an equal amount (to keep the car aerodynamically balanced), and requiring teams to use a minimum 65 degrees of spoiler in qualifying.

Dale Earnhardt and a number of other drivers have been lobbying NASCAR all year for more rear spoiler, with repeated complaints that NASCAR's ''five-and-five'' rule -- less rear spoiler and less front air dam -- has made for boring racing since the sanctioning body issued that rule earlier this year.

The ''five-and-five'' was designed to slow speeds by forcing drivers to run more slowly through corners because of less downforce on their cars.

''Hopefully it will make for better racing, so I'm in favor of that,'' said Bobby Hutchens, Earnhardt's engineer.

''I'm tired of hearing drivers screaming about the cars not handling. These cars were designed around those rules to begin with.

''I don't think you'll see speeds more than two or three-tenths quicker. But it's hard to say until these guys get up on top of the wheel.''

NASCAR's Mike Helton said he wasn't ready to provide specifics about the proposed new rules, but crew chiefs will be standing by the fax machines today to see if anything comes out of Daytona.

At least one high-ranking NASCAR official says the spoiler rules will not be changed this week.

There is a slight difference in spoiler size now, with Ford running a slightly smaller spoiler than Chevrolet, and Pontiac running a slightly larger spoiler than Chevrolet, differences designed to even the makes. It is unclear if NASCAR would maintain those slight differences with the new larger spoilers or if every team will get the same new 6 1/2 -inch spoiler.

''I think everyone is going to have 6 1/2 ,'' Hutchens said.

''But that may hurt one make on the straightaway while helping in the corners, and vice versa for another make. It depends on how efficient the greenhouse is.

''The 65-degree minimum would only mean something for qualifying, slightly slower speeds. With a 6 1/2 spoiler, you'd probably want to race 65 degrees anyway. With five inches, we're racing 70 or 75 degrees.''

A number of teams tested at Atlanta last week, including Ward Burton and the Bill Davis team. Most teams have long since exhausted their seven-test limit, including Earnhardt's. The Richard Childress crew has been to the Detroit wind tunnel to test the new configuration.(11-01-98)(Journal Now)

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Restrictor Plate Racing as defined by Jeremy Mayfield...Jeremy Mayfield, who collected his first Winston Cup race victory this year at Pocono Raceway, offered a colorful description of what drafting is like on a superspeedway.

``Drafting at Daytona is like getting 20 people together at a party and running out the front door together,'' Mayfield said. ``The drafting is tight and one tiny mistake at the wrong time can cause a lot of havoc in a hurry. You have to make good decisions constantly, and you have to make them in a blink of an eye.''

As 43 cars exit a turn at Talladega Superspeedway at about 190 mph, they are in perfect formation. They look like a squadron of fighter planes preparing to attack.

This, fans, is restrictor-plate racing.

NASCAR likes it because it makes racing at Talladega and Daytona safer. The top drivers dislike it because, with most of the cars running at the same speed, it takes a driver's skill out of racing.

If restrictor plates weren't used at Daytona and Talladega, it's estimated that the cars would be racing at up to 225 mph.
After Mark Martin was involved in a wreck last week at Talladega that included Ernie Irvan, he said, ``If we did more than four of these a year, I'd find something else to do.''
(10-15-98)(BILL FLEISCHMAN Philadelphia Daily News - That's Racin')

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The King,Petty, speaks out on restrictor plates, "It's racing. Let's go race!"...Richard Petty said he agrees that NASCAR racing just isn't as exciting as it used to be, despite the drama of nose-to-tail racing in 30-car trains at restrictor-plate tracks such as Daytona International. Petty, the king of Daytona with seven victories in the Daytona 500, once dominated the sport so completely that he once came from seven laps down to win at Dover, Del.

''I've seen better racing, I'll put it that way,'' Petty said with a laugh. Over the years, Petty has seen some of the best that stock-car racing has had to offer. Two men, he says, stand out -- David Pearson and Curtis Turner. ''I guess, of all the people, I always felt Pearson had as much natural talent as anyone,'' Petty said. ''But probably Curtis had as much or more than he did. ''But Curtis did it as sort of a lark. He could drive, or not drive. Or show up and race, or not race. It wasn't a burning passion with him. But he had a talent that was unreal.

''If he'd had really dedicated himself to driving a race car, he could have been really, really phenomenal. But he did it just because it was in front of him. It wasn't because of any burning desire. 'Give me a car, and I'll go.'''

Such as the time . . .''We'd go to these dirt tracks and the mud would be knee deep, and I remember him going to Hickory one night . . . he'd go down in the first corner wide open, and spin it around and get it slowed down, and then go back, around the track. He must have done that 10 or 15 times. He went down and spun it intentionally so he could go through the turn. And he had complete control the whole time, that was what was so fascinating about it.''

They don't come along such as Turner any more, that's for sure. Or such as Petty.

''What you've got now is too many cars that are basically the same, and too many crews and too many drivers,'' Petty said of today's lineup. ''The competition is too good. And when the competition is too good, or let's put it this way, the competition is basically the same -- the first-place guy is leading the race, but the 20th-place guy is on the same straightaway with him.

''In order to have racing, you've got to have somebody passing somebody. You've got to have fast cars, medium cars, and slower cars. What we've got is the whole field running within 15- or 20-hundreths of a second of each other. That means there's very little passing, and very little racing.

''As far as passing, and making it exciting for the people in the grandstands, I think the competition is too close.''

Yet, there is no denying the thrill of restrictor-plate racing, and the prospect of the first night Winston Cup race here, under the lights on Saturday, is expected to draw a sellout crowd of 150,000. Pole runs are set for 8 p.m. today.

''I never was a restrictor-plate advocate,'' Petty said. ''I always looked it as 'Hey, this is a race. So let's go race. And let's go wide open.'

''Looking at the race at Talladega Sunday: You get 20 people who all of a sudden become good race-car drivers because they've got a fast car. Well, if you were running 215 mph, you'd separate that crowd right dadgum quick. And the good ones would come to the front.

''I think it's an uneven deal now as far as the people who have the talent, because they can't show it. Like Mark Martin Sunday. He's running around out there and just gets caught. There's nothing he can do, or anyone can do, it just happens.

''Not that you wouldn't get in trouble running 215 mph, but he's got a better chance at 215 mph than he does at 195 mph like they're running now.

''They did it for safety, but all they did was cause more trouble. I just don't like 'em at all. Didn't like to drive 'em. Don't even like to watch 'em. It's like going out on the interstate and watching 40 cars go by. And then you go down to the next exit and two or three of 'em have passed somebody. Big deal.

But don't the fans love restrictor-plate racing? ''Not necessarily,'' Petty said. ''I don't know. I'm just looking at it from a car owner's and driver's standpoint, and I always hate to work and work and work and get by somebody, and then a couple of other cars get together and go back by you, and you've got to do it all over again.

''That's not the way it's supposed to be, for the racers. ''Now from the entertainment standpoint, I can't argue with that.''

It has been more than 10 years since drivers were allowed to go wide open at Daytona and Talladega. Back in Bill Elliott's 212-mph heyday, the difference between fast cars and really fast cars at these tracks was incredible, as Elliott showed that afternoon when he came from two laps down to win.

With Talladega's front-stretch grandstands now double-decker, perhaps Bill France is closer to taking the plates off the cars at that track and seeing just what this new generation of racers can do. Only a handful of drivers still on the tour can remember what it's like to run wide open.(10-15-98)(Mike Mulhern, Journal Now)

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Bruton Smith is right: The racing in NASCAR's Winston Cup series has become downright boring.

It shows in TV ratings. It shows in lagging ticket sales. Blame it on Jeff Gordon. All he does is win.

But he's just playing the game the way NASCAR officials have reformulated it over the past few years. Ever since the Frances decided to clean up the sport's image, bringing out the penalty box to put an end to that great Dale Earnhardt-Rusty Wallace rivalry and to stop any incipient duels before they got out of hand, things have been squeaky clean. (Journal Now 10-05-98)

Earnhardt joins chorus to criticize state of racing.... Normally the days leading up to a race at Charlotte Motor Speedway are filled with hype and talk about what an exciting race everyone expects to see on Sunday. In the days leading up to this UAW-GM 500, however, a growing chorus seems to be lamenting about how dull Winston Cup racing has become. Terry Labonte discussed it earlier this week, as did CMS owner Bruton Smith, both suggesting that NASCAR rules have all but eliminated the opportunity for close racing. You can add Dale Earnhardt's voice to the choir, too.

"We're not racing now,'' said Earnhardt, who starts 33rd in the 334-lap event. "We're playing follow the leader. I will not run in the corner with somebody behind me. I'll let them by and then race behind them and try to get them back later. I think a lot of other people will tell you the same.''

Earnhardt blames NASCAR's so-called "five-and-five rule.'' Although since being altered by various updates, the rule originally limited cars to 5-inch rear spoilers and required 5-inch clearances on their front air dams. "They took the racing out of it,'' said Earnhardt, who had finished in the top 10 in 10 straight Charlotte races and in 12 of the past 14 here before crashing and finishing 39th in the Coca-Cola 600 in May.

"Eventually the fans will get bored watching single-file runs around these race tracks, and they'll quit coming,'' Earnhardt said. "NASCAR has got to rethink the five-and-five rule. They've got to give everybody across the board some spoiler back and some valence so we can drive the cars in traffic. It's everywhere on the big tracks, Darlington, Charlotte, all the big tracks."
(David Poole, That's Racin 10-4-98)

Rivalries lacking on Winston Cup circuit... "Thanks to NASCAR, thanks to all the inspections and trying to level the playing field, thanks to trying to keep everything equal by taking something away from one guy so he can't have an advantage, there's no ingenuity left. The rivalries aren't among drivers, they're in the pits among the crew chiefs. ... The drivers are helpless. The drivers understand everybody's situation. If your car is good, you win. If your car is bad, you lose."....."There is no racing,'' he says. "Everywhere we go it's follow the leader around the bottom, single file. ... It's just different than it used to be. You can't have rivalries if you can't race.''- Darrell Waltrip.

"You don't have the side-by-side racing we had when we had more spoiler and downforce. I think that's essential. You can't have rivalries if the guys don't race side by side.'' - Humpy Wheeler
(10-3-98 That's Racin' Story)

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NASCAR limiting crew memebers

NASCAR'S Mike Helton says to discount those reports that NASCAR's plan to limit the size of Winston Cup pit crews may be dying on the vine. The bulletin will be coming out in about two weeks, Helton says, with all the details.(10-13-98)(JournalNow)

NASCAR's Bill France is firmly committed to limiting Winston Cup pit crews to eight men, car owner Andy Petree said yesterday after lengthy talks with NASCAR officials about the proposal.

''I asked 'em what number they were looking at, and they said there were still seriously looking at eight,'' Petree said. ''We went over a lot of aspects, and they said they wanted to stick with eight. It will be less than 10, and we're pushing for eight."

''That's fine with me; that's great. We're in favor of it. I'd expect them to put it into effect for next season.''( Mike Mulhern, Journal Now 10-05-98) Comment: It appears that NASCAR is serious about implementing this new rule to limit the number of crew members in the pits and although many teams seem in favor of the change a few are not, the most vocal being Hendrick Motorsports.

How many crewmen should NASCAR limit in the pits? Jack Roush says eight. Richard Childress says 14: ''You've got to have your engine man, your truck driver, car owner, and about 12 to work on the car and pit the car.''

NASCAR's version of weekend warriors is about to become extinct...NASCAR officials plan to limit the number of crew members each team uses on race weekend, so crew members who fly to the track on race day may become a thing of the past. Winston Cup teams bring anywhere from 12 to more than 20 crew members to the track on race weekend -- but NASCAR is considering cutting that number down to eight. That leaves seven crew members to pit the car during the race -- and one extra, just in case.

So, not many teams plan to waste those few employees on someone who can't work on the car in some capacity. And that may mean doing away with crew members hired for their athletic skills -- specifically to produce fast pit stops on race day. Those employees generally arrive at the racetrack on race morning.

In order to catch up with teams that hire race-day ``ringers,'' some teams have considered doing the same thing to keep up with the competition. But recently, NASCAR has opted to prevent all that -- choosing to keep the sport from evolving too much into an unwieldy, costly venture for both the owners and the fans. (Orlando Sentinal 9-28-98)

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Things That make you go "huummm"

Marcis can still dance...Dave Marcis danced through the field in style during Sunday's Winston 500 at Talladega (AL) Superspeedway. After qualifying 29th among a field of 43 competitors, Marcis, with the aid of long time friend Richard Childress, finished 12th in his No. 71 Realtree Camouflage Chevrolet - his first top finish this season. "It felt good just to have made the race," stated a jubilant Dave Marcis. "Thanks to my guys, who have been working day and night, and Richard (Childress) for the engine, we had all the right pieces to make a good run."

"We're real pleased with the finish. I had a comfortable car that could go anywhere on the track," Marcis said. "This is also the car we will take to Daytona. We've got to do a little body work on it because we cut a left front tire and did some damage to the front end, but she'll be ready."

While most of his competitors will be packing their bags to head off to the sunshine state, Marcis and his crew will be pounding away at sheetmetal and on asphalt. With four races left in the season, Marcis is testing at Greenville (SC) Pickens Speedway in preparation for the upcoming race at Phoenix International Raceway.

"The rest of the guys will staying here at the shop doing a little bodywork on the car we ran at Talladega," said Marcis. "That's the one we'll take to Daytona. Hopefully, she'll be as good there."(10-15-98)(SpeedWorld Online)

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The 2000 Chevrolet Monte Carlo...If you loved last year's tiresome struggle to get the Ford Taurus approved and competitive for NASCAR Winston Cup racing, stay tuned for the drama surrounding the next-generation Monte Carlo. The production version is not a dramatic departure from the current car, but there are some styling tweaks that could well come into play as Chevrolet begins the process of satisfying NASCAR, its teams and their fans that the new Monte Carlo is a winning design.

And when might that be? Not at the 1999 Daytona 500, though NASCAR rules technically could allow the 2000 Monte Carlo to race there. But the car won't debut to the public likely until the Chicago auto show, which is in February, roughly the same time as the Daytona 500. Expect Chevrolet to possibly display the racing version of the new Monte Carlo there, much as Ford did with the Taurus in Indianapolis in the summer of 1997.

But just as that initial Ford Taurus was simply a hint at the version NASCAR would ultimately accept as the competition car, any Monte Carlo racer displayed at the Chicago show would be a work-in-progress.

So when are we likely to see the new Monte Carlo on the track? The best guess now is the May race at Charlotte.(10-14-98)(IRace, The Crapola Report)

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Mike Skinner's post race comments really made me say "hmmmmmm". He said his team mate, Earnhardt, wasn't good enough to run with him during the Winston 500 at Talladega so he got with Dale Jarret, interestingly enough before the race, so they could work together on the track. In post race comments, Dale Jarrett made sure to thank Mike Skinner for his help during the race and Mike made sure to thank Jarrett. Team mates? I really was under the impression that "team mates" were guys on the same team who are supposed to work together. Skinner has shown in recent months an increasing unwillingness to work with him team mate, Dale Earnhardt. We attended the Bristol race in August when Skinner got on the radio and told Larry McReynolds to "tell that SOB, (referring to Earnhardt), to leave me alone". It was evident the Skinner has no willingness to work with Earnhardt as a team mate at Bristol, not only from his spoken words but from his on track actions. It was also evident from attending the Winton 500 that Skinner was not interested in working with Earnhardt, again, both from his spoken words and his on track actions.

Well, Mike Skinner, it sounds like you have been hanging with Larry McReynolds to much. You are starting to sound like him. If that is really the way you and McReynolds feel, why don't you carry your sorry little butts right over to Yates and become team mates with Dale Jarrett. (10-14-98)(Strictly our opinion)

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Marcis gets boost from RCR...Dave Marcis' crew spent almost as much time in the pits of Richard Childress Racing drivers Dale Earnhardt and Mike Skinner as their own on Sunday.

Marcis used a borrowed Richard Childress engine for Sunday's Winston 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, both in qualifying and the race, and when Marcis suffered damage to his car Sunday, Childress allowed Marcis to borrow some parts needed to keep his No. 71 Chevrolet on the track.

The help did not come without reward.

Marcis, 57, finished 12th Sunday - his first Top 20 finish since he was 17th at last season's July Daytona race. And it was the first time he has finished on the lead lap of a race this season. His previous best finish this season was 26th at Martinsville (Va.) two weekends ago.

``Something flew off someone's car and blew out my left front tire and that hurt us. But the guys did a great job in the pits,'' Marcis said. ``We borrowed a few parts and got the thing fixed and managed to stay on the lead lap. Well you know again, thanks to Richard Childress and all their guys. It was their engine, their engine we qualified with. They came down to help us get qualified.

"This is quite a game, this NASCAR Winston Cup racing. I mean everybody helps everybody," he said. "If it wasn't for their help, I probably wouldn't have made it. You don't see that in other sports. NASCAR certainly has that going for it.''

"We're tickled to death with the finish," Marcis said. "The (damage to the car) is not that bad, just the hood and the fender. And we're ready to take it to Daytona."(10-12-98)(That's Racin')

Following Sunday's race, NASCAR officials -- including Winston Cup director Gary Nelson -- called Hendrick Motorsports president John Hendrick and Tony Furr, crew chief of Hendrick's No. 50 Chevrolet, to the NASCAR hauler for a meeting to discuss an incident during the race.

According to a NASCAR source, the No. 50 crew wanted to move to a vacated pit stall during the race, asked for permission but started moving their equipment before NASCAR approved the move. Hendrick and Furr were admonished to follow NASCAR directives in the future, the source said.(10-05-98 That's Racin')

Interesting! Did you know, going into this weekend's Winston Cup Race at Charlotte, that out of 135 top-five finishing positions in 27 races completed so far this season, Fords have produced 82 of the top-five finishes. By comparison, Chevrolets have 40 top-five finishes and Pontiacs have 13.

There are 5 Fords, 3 Chevrolets and 2 Pontiacs in the top-ten points standing. From the top-ten in the points standing, ( ) indicates position in points standing......
Ford top-five finishers are:
Mark Martin(2nd) - 18, Dale Jarrett(3rd) - 16, Rusty Wallace(4th) - 12, Jeremy Mayfield(6th) - 10, Jeff Burton(7th) - 14.
Chevrolet top-five finishers are:
Jeff Gordon(1st) - 21, Dale Earnhardt(8th) - 4, Terry Labonte(9th) - 4.
Pontiac top-five finishers are:
Bobby Labonte(5th) - 10, John Andretti(10th) - 3

This brings up the parity issue again. If you consider taking out the dominant Chevrolet, which has been under the watchful eye of other competitors and NASCAR this season, and has more than half of the Chevrolet top-five finishes, is there really parity?(10-3-98)

Ralph Seagraves, 69, long credited for being the mastermind behind Winston's involvement in motorsports, died Sunday afternoon in Winston-Salem. Seagraves headed up R.J. Reynolds Tobacco's sports marketing department from 1972 until his retirement in 1985. He is survived by wife Ardette and son Colbert, a member of Jimmy Spencer's pit crew. (SpeedNet 9-27-98)

Some things from the MBNA 400
that make you scratch your head:(9-20-98)

Tiregate: Although NASCAR officially announced that they found nothing in the test results on Jeff Gordon's tires, they once again impounded all tires and kept them under lock and key until 10:00 am the morning of the race. Kinda make you wonder!?!?

Black Flag: During the MBNA 400 the 24 team was "black flagged" for fenders that were pushed out to far. Fenders flared farther than NASCAR allows will create additional downforce and better handling. Hummm.... this one too kinda makes you wonder!?!?

Parity: Only three Chevrolets finished in the top 15 in the MBNA 400 (2nd, 10th and 11th). Nine Fords and three Pontiacs rounded out the top 15. Our opinion is, if it wasn't for "whatever" the 24 team has found in the "gray areas" of the rule book, maybe NASCAR would look a little closer at the spoiler issue.

Kinda makes you wonder??
Interesting note after Sunday's Richmond race:
In post-race inspections after Jeff Burton's victory Saturday night in Roush's Ford, NASCAR officials carefully cut large chunks out of Burton's tires and Jeff Gordon's tires. What might eventually happen to those samples isn't clear. NASCAR officials say only that they'll take them back to Daytona for storage, in case any questions arise down the road. The samples won't be tested as the tires at Loudon, N.H. were, NASCAR executives said, because those test results backed up the validity of NASCAR's own field testing.(JournalNow)(9-14-98)

Everybody's on the bandwagon about Gordon finally breaking Darrell Waltrips old record of 10 wins. Well, that may be so, but isn't that around the same time period that Gary Nelson was DW's Crew Chief for about 3 years, and notorious enough for "illegal" set ups, that he was hired by NASCAR to "ferret out" others that may be doing the same??? hmmmmm.......(Wizards 9-14-98)

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Restrictor Plate Racing

So, what's the big deal about a "plate-race?" A race is a race, right? Not exactly. Because of several elements peculiar to plate racing, these two events conceivably could help championship leader Gordon substantially add to his 174-point advantage, or allow Martin to pull to within serious striking distance during the schedule's final three non-restrictor plate events.

Here are the basics that make a NASCAR plate race decidedly different.

In an effort to reduce speeds and ensure driver/spectator safety at the high-banked, 2.66-mile Talladega and 2.5-mile Daytona racetracks, NASCAR runs its races there with a device known as the carburetor restrictor plate. The plate is a one-eighth-inch-thick piece of metal that fits on top of the manifold and under the four-barrel carburetor of every engine. The four holes in the plate, which line up with the four holes in the carburetor, have a NASCAR-mandated diameter of 29/32nds-of-an-inch.

The plate restricts the amount of air being pumped into the engine through the carb, inhibiting its ability to produce horsepower and speed when mixed with gasoline. For example, a 358 cubic-inch Chevrolet V-8 engine that normally produces between 725 to 735 horsepower in unrestricted form will crank out ``only'' 425 to 435 horsepower with the plate. As intended by NASCAR, that loss of revs keeps speeds in the high-180 mph range.

But plate racing also has produced pack racing. The reduction in horsepower is magnified by a reduction in the ability to accelerate away from another car in a pinch. Mix in the bumper-to-bumper drafting that is common on superspeedways, and freight train-like lines of eight, nine or more cars are common. While that creates spectacular side-by-side racing lap after lap, it also increases the probability that one wrong turn of the steering wheel could trigger a massive wreck.

Ask any Cup driver about his greatest concern during a plate race and he will tell you it is getting swept up in "the wreck".(10-9-98)(That's Racin'-John Sturbin, Ft Worth Star Telegram)

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