Earnhardt, Gordon take Twin 125s with ChevysDAYTONA BEACH...

February 12, 1993|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Staff Writer

DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. — Earnhardt, Gordon take Twin 125s with Chevys

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Controversy isn't new to Winston Cup racing. Someone always is complaining about something.

A year ago, it was the beginning of a season that was to be dominated in the early going by Ford cars. Davey Allison won the Daytona 500 in his Ford. Bill Elliott won the next four in his Ford.

Now there is a Pontiac and four Chevrolets in the first two starting rows for Sunday's 35th annual Daytona 500.

"It's obvious to me that the Chevrolets did the best job of politicking over the winter," said Allison, who will start 11th Sunday. "NASCAR's completely eliminated us from this week. We don't have a chance. . . . So I guess now we'll enjoy the weather and watch the Daytona 500 and just see what unfolds."

Allison's car owner, Robert Yates, said there are two things that make cars go fast here -- "one is running that cylinder head mill for a long time and aero[dynamics] is the other. And that's the two major things the GM cars got this winter. They've got a nice aero package. It's a showroom stock race vs. a super modified race, and the super modifieds are winning."

After Dale Earnhardt won his half of the Gatorade Twin 125-mile qualifying races in his Chevy yesterday, he was trying to play down any advantage.

"I don't think I was toying with them," he said. "This was a hard race. Bill Elliott's Ford [finished second in the first race] and Geoff Bodine's Ford [second in the second] were strong.

"I think GM and Fords are fairly equal," Earnhardt said. "It's just a matter of who can get anyone to work with them in the draft."

Yesterday, no one would work with either Elliott or Bodine. Both Jeff Gordon's and Earnhardt's winning Chevys showed the power, and most Ford drivers were loath to pull out and attempt a pass.

"The car was pretty good," said defending Winston Cup champion Alan Kulwicki. "But I never could get anyone to work with me. If it's like that Sunday, the Fords are just going to be holding on."

Unser hits the wall

The 1992 Indianapolis 500 winner hit the wall in the second turn on the 10th lap of the second of two 125-mile qualifying races. After that, all Al Unser Jr. could do was sit in the garage and hope he would make the starting field.

"I didn't think it would end up like this," Unser said of his wait-and-see position, which was resolved at the end of the afternoon when he found he would start the Daytona 500 in the 40th position. "I've got a great team and a great car -- but it was just bad luck."

Unser squeezed through the accident involving Wally Dallenbach and Jeff Purvis on Lap 4 and evidently was hit harder than he thought.

"All I felt was a little side knocking," Unser said. "I just barely touched those guys."

But his quarter panel bent, rubbed on the tire and NASCAR black-flagged him for a smoking tire. Before Unser could pit, the tire blew, sending him into the second turn wall. He'll start Sunday in a backup car from the Kenny Schrader team. Both teams are owned by Rick Hendrick.

Jimmy Means, taken to the Halifax Medical Centre after a seven-car accident Wednesday, has a broken shoulder blade. Driving Means' car yesterday in the 125 was Jimmy Hensley. Hensley finished last, after getting taken out by Unser's second-turn crash. Hensley was uninjured. The car is "fixable" and Hensley will start 38th in the 500.

No crash for Gibbs

Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs and owner of the car being driven by Dale Jarrett said he only wanted one thing from yesterday's 125-mile qualifying race -- not to wreck the car.

Jarrett didn't seem to have any power at the start, and would end up near the middle of the pack, which seemed out of harm's way. But then, he nearly missed being taken out in Turn 4, when Dallenbach spun. Jarrett went low into the grass to avoid the collision.

After that, Jarrett got the RPMs up and battled Earnhardt, Bodine and Irvan to the finish. He finished third with his car intact, drawing a sigh from Gibbs.

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