Pontiac to debut new car

Posted: Friday, July 05, 2002

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Pontiac will have a new car for the 2003 Daytona 500, but it will be strikingly familiar to the Dodges and Fords already on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series.

NASCAR approved the new racing body style for the Grand Prix earlier this week and the car will have the same basic shape of the Intrepid and Taurus as the sanctioning body continues to work toward making the cars so similar it can use the same template during the inspection process.

What will distinguish the new Pontiac from Ford and Dodge will be its front nose.

Even if the new body style won't resemble the Pontiacs on the highway, it should help it be more competitive. Only two Pontiac teams Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart have won races in the past two years and that's caused the Pontiac stable dwindle to only five full-time teams.

And if rumors out of General Motors are correct, Labonte and Stewart will jump to the Chevrolet Monte Carlo next year.

In response to the reported defection, Pontiac is luring Cal Wells from Ford. Wells, whose driver is Ricky Craven, is getting help from Pontiac in finding sponsorship for a second team. If Wells is able to start a second team at PPI Motorsports, IndyCar driver Max Papis could wind up being the driver.

JOB HOUSEKEEPING: Kevin Harvick and Richard Childress Racing proved again the rumor mill isn't always accurate.

A couple weeks after everyone in the garage area was convinced Harvick might be replaced in Childress' No. 29 Chevrolet the same car that used to carry No. 3 and racing legend Dale Earnhardt the team suggested Harvick is close to signing a long-term deal.

In other job-related news, Elliott Sadler is bound in his new contract not to talk about his job with Robert Yates Racing until August. While many assume he will take over for Ricky Rudd in the famed No. 28 Ford, he probably will end up in a third Yates car.

PIT STOPS: Defending IRL champion Sam Hornish said Wednesday he plans to drive in the Daytona 500 next year. Only two drivers Mario Andretti and A.J. Foyt have won the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500. ... While Papis is looking at jumping from the CART series to Winston Cup, Jerry Nadeau is considering a switch from Winston Cup to the Indy Racing League.

Reach Don Coble at doncoble@bellsouth.net.



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