Schrader gets new deal as teams struggle

Posted: Thursday, December 26, 2002

ATLANTA -- Job hunting for full-time work came to an end this week, when Ken Schrader accepted a ride with the final vacancy on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series.

Schrader, who hasn't won since 1991, will drive the No. 49 Dodge from BAM Racing.

Schrader had agreed to drive the Daytona 500 for car owner Andy Petree. However, unless Petree finds a sponsor beyond the season opener, the job would have lasted just one race.

BAM started a year ago with Shawna Robinson behind the wheel. The team made several driver changes as they struggled to crack the starting lineup. Other drivers who took a turn at BAM in 2002 included Stacy Compton, Derrike Cope, Stuart Kirby, Ron Hornaday and Kevin Lepage.

Petree, who recently laid off 25 employees, now is looking for a driver for the Daytona 500. He's also looking for sponsorship and investors to keep his doors open beyond that.

Petree's problems come at the same time when Melling Racing finally gave up its search for a sponsor. Team owner Mark Melling officially shut down the team that took Bill Elliott to his only Winston Cup Series championship in 1988 after making just two starting lineups last season.

Other teams that face problems include Ultra Motorsports' No. 7 Dodge and A.J. Foyt's No. 14 Pontiac. Ultra owner Jim Smith was charged with several felonies two months ago after police in California claim his company illegally dumped industrial waste into the sewer system. Foyt's sponsor, Conseco, filed for bankruptcy earlier this month.

SPORTS CARS: Stock car drivers Kyle Petty and Lepage will compete at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona sports car race at the Daytona International Speedway.


Andy Petree is looking for a driver for February's Daytona 500 and sponsors to keep the team afloat.

Petty again will drive a Porsche GT3 R with Leo Hindery, Peter Baron and Marc Lieb for Orbit Racing.

Lepage will drive with Tommy Riggins and Dave Machavern in a Ford Mustang for Heritage Motorsports.

The twice-around-the-clock race generally attracts several stock car drivers. Dale Earn hardt, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Darrell Waltrip, Kevin Har vick, Wally Dallenbach, Mark Martin, Robby Gor don, Tony Stewart, Elliott and Cope all have experience in the endur ance race, the world wide kickoff to the racing year.

PIT STOPS: Hendrick Motor sports will field a fifth Chevrolet in four races next year. David Green, a former NASCAR Busch Series champion, will compete at the Daytona 500 and three other superspeedway races, the team announced. Hendrick also has Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Joe Nemechek and Terry Labonte in its stable Part of Jeff Gordon's financial disclosure required in his divorce shows the four-time champion took home $1.1 million a month after taxes in 2001. He also contributed $8,900 a month to charities.

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