Fords get spoiler change for Daytona

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2002

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Ford wanted a major shakeup in the rulebook for next month's Daytona 500; Chev rolet argued its longtime rival didn't need any help.

NASCAR met both sides in the middle.

A week after seeing Fords struggling during two three-day test sessions at the Day tona International Speed way, the sanctioning body late Tuesday said Ford teams may lower their rear spoilers by a quarter-inch for next month's race.

While the change seems minor, it will allow the Fords to remove a total of 14.25 square inches from the spoiler to dramatically reduce the amount of drag.

Chevrolet and Dodge teams dominated both test sessions, posting 13 of the 14 fastest speeds.

The quickest Ford was Geoffrey Bodine's, whose lap of 182.723 mph was 15th overall and well off Jimmie Johnson's leading pace of 183.816 mph.

All four manufacturers have rear spoilers that stand 57 inches wide and at a

55-degree angle. Dodge

and Pontiac have 6{-inch-tall spoil ers, and Chevrolet and Ford each have 6\-inch-tall spoilers.

Several drivers from the Chevrolet and Dodge camps said they thought most Ford teams purposely restricted their speeds to gain a rule change.

A year ago, Dodge struggled during the test, but it returned to win the front row for the Daytona 500. In fact, the word ''sandbagging'' was common throughout both tests.

''I think some guys are playing games,'' said Chevrolet driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.

''That's all we have,'' said car owner Robert Yates after his two Fords were 25th and 32nd on the speed charts. ''There's no sand in our trunks.''

HEAVEN CAN WAIT: A company that manufactured and sold souvenirs that honored Dale Earnhardt must pay car owner Richard Childress $500,000, a U.S. magistrate judge ruled.

The company, Heavenly Designs of N.C. Inc., was told it may no longer produce, advertise or sell any designs with the famous No. 3. The order includes souvenirs made with or without angel's wings or halos.

Childress, Earnhardt's long time car owner, repeatedly warned of lawsuits to any company that tries to profit from Earnhardt's death. Child ress owns the No. 3 and its trademark on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series.

Childress and Earnhardt's estate have refused to approve any product that honors the memory of the former seven-time racing champion.

''We will go after anyone who attempts to illegally profit from our trademarks,'' Child ress said.

INDOOR TRACK OUT IN THE COLD: Plans to build an indoor race track apparently have hit the road.

Bob Brant, a West Virginia businessman, wanted to build an indoor raceway near the Pittsburgh International Air port, but he now is looking for a new location.

Brant said the project, estimated to cost $400 million, was dropped in Allegheny County after local officials refused to offer the kind of support to make it successful. Without the right kind of ''enthusiasm,'' Brant said he was forced to look for a new home for the track.

The lack of enthusiasm apparently included the county's refusal to make $35 million worth of infrastructure improvements near the airport.

MR. FASTWRENCH: Chuck Gafrarar, a mechanic with Rusty Wallace's Winston Cup Series race team, got a different perspective of the sport when he drove a Pontiac Sunbird during a recent test session at the Daytona Inter national Speedway.

Gafrarar will attempt to drive in the Daytona USA 150 for the Goody's Dash Series for compact stock cars.

Larry Caudill was the quickest in the session at 162.681 mph, but Gafrarar was second-fastest at 161.293.

''I've been here the past five or six years, but on the other side of the wall,'' Gafrarar said. ''I've never been on the race track. I've always been working on these things in the garage area.''

PIT STOPS: NASCAR was well represented in the Sporting News 100 Most Pow er ful People in Sports. Six people, including fifth-ranked Bill France Jr., were on the list. France, son of NASCAR found er Bill France, is the highest-ranking person from the sport to ever make the list. Others were president Mike Helton at No. 45, vice president Jim Hunter at No. 52, vice president George Pyne at No. 66, driver Jeff Gordon at No. 68 and Teresa Earnhardt, the widow of seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt, at No. 95 ... David Pook, 30, suffered a break to his second cervical vertebra in a crash at the Phoenix International Race way last Thursday.

He was wearing a NASCAR-mandated Head and Neck Support device that's supposed to help prevent serious head and neck injuries. Pook hit the wall after his car suffered a steering malfunction during the NASCAR Southwest Tour practice session.

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