All of racing descends on Daytona

Posted: Thursday, February 07, 2002

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Motor homes started lining up at Daytona International Speed way on Sunday two weeks away from the Daytona 500. By Wednesday, the same time all of the transporters arrived with race cars, the camping lots were filled.

The NASCAR Winston Cup Series gets back on track today with practice for the Budweiser Shootout all-star race and pole qualifying for the Daytona 500. Unlike the other weekends on the 10-month racing schedule, there's no effort to consolidate the festivities.

Speed Weeks has become Speed Month.

Two weeks of mandatory testing at Daytona was followed by a week of sports car practice, qualifying and an endurance race known as the 24 Hours of Day tona. Less than 48 hours later, cars from the Inter nation al Race of Champions were back on the track.

By the time the final lap of the Daytona 500 is completed Feb. 17, cars from seven series will have used Daytona for their biggest races of the season.

The rest of the season primarily will feature three-day racing weekends with qualifying Fri day, a support race Saturday and the Winston Cup main event Sunday. Smaller classes such as Goody's Dash, Busch and Crafts man Trucks generally have two-day racing weekends.

SHUT UP AND RACE: Jimmy Spencer is tired of hearing all the complaining between the manufacturers.

''I'm not worried about what a Ford or Chevy can do,'' he said. ''I'm not worried about what another Dodge can do. To me, those guys don't address the situation publicly. They address it to themselves, management-wise, but not the team players. That's a big plus for me.

''I don't have a lot of negativism going into every week. Going into Daytona, do we have the best car? I'm not worried about it. I know that my boys have prepared the best possible car they could prepare.''

Spencer has a reason to feel confident. Both Ford and Chevrolet feel NASCAR has tweaked the rule book to give his Dodge Intrepid an edge.

BLUE LIGHT BLUES: Not only has Kmart notified car owners Carl Haas and Travis Carter they won't sponsor two Fords on the Winston Cup circuit beyond the Subway 400 at Rockingham, N.C., the troubled retailer has asked a bankruptcy judge to get them out of their agreement as a race sponsor for the Daytona 500.

Haas and Carter received a check for the Daytona 500 and Subway 400, but with it came the word they wouldn't be able to continue the sponsorship after the second race.

Kmart filed for bankruptcy and is trying to reorganize to keep from going out of business.

The store was to sponsor cars driven by Todd Bodine and Joe Nemechek this year for Haas-Carter Motorsports.

BLOWN AWAY SPEEDWAY: Championship Auto Racing Teams got another blow Wednesday when the Chicago Motor Speedway pulled the plug on its summer racing schedule.

A CART race, as well as a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race, were canceled. The speedway, owned by Winston Cup and CART car owner Chip Ganassi, will close as the result of business and economic problems in the sport.

Three months ago, CART was rocked by the defection of found er Roger Penske. He pulled both of his race teams to join the rival Indy Racing League.

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