Sunday, February 2, 2003
Wallace targets win at Daytona
Enquirer news services
If Rusty Wallace wins the Daytona 500, he'll have plenty of fans celebrating with him.
If Wallace gets his first Daytona 500 victory, his sponsor, Miller Lite, will have representatives at the exits to distribute coupons for a free six-pack of beer to every drinking-age fan in the stands at Daytona International Speedway. Wallace, who will debut a Dodge at Daytona this week, has 54 Winston Cup victories but none at Daytona. His best finish was a runner-up run in the Pepsi 400 last July, and his best 500 finish was third in 2001.
But he believes his 39-race winless streak at Daytona could end this month.
He has been confident before, such as in 1999, when he and then-teammate Jeremy Mayfield were running one-two with 11 laps to go in the 500.
But Mayfield fell back, and Jeff Gordon, the eventual winner, moved up to challenge for the lead.
"Gordon got underneath me in the tri-oval, we got down on the apron, and we had a big race going into turn one," Wallace said. "I had to get off the gas to keep from causing one heck of a wreck. ... Looking back on it, I should have stayed on the throttle, stayed on the bottom and forced him to make some kind of maneuver."
PEMBERTON TO FORDFormer crew chief Robin Pemberton has been hired by Ford Racing to run its NASCAR program. Pemberton, who played a major role in the development of the Taurus, will be Ford's field manager and will be responsible for overseeing development in all three of NASCAR's top series.
MONEY INCREASER.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. has increased the Winston Cup series points fund - the year-end money awarded to the top 25 drivers in the points standings - by $3 million this season.
The yearly total reaches nearly $17 million, with $4.25 million awarded to the series champion - an increase of $500,000 during 2002.
Drivers finishing second through fourth will each receive more than $1 million at the annual December awards ceremony in New York. After starting at $100,000 in 1971, the point fund rose to $750,000 by 1985. The fund increased to $2 million the following year. By 1998, the total jumped to $5million. In 2000, the fund doubled $10 million, with the champion making $3 million.
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