Tire worries rolling around in drivers' heads BRICKYARD 400 NOTEBOOK

August 04, 1994|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Sun Staff Writer

INDIANAPOLIS -- Darrell Waltrip, his face as rosy as the shocking pink golf shirt he was wearing, couldn't sit still.

He twitched. He wiggled. He nearly bounced.

"Do you realize this is the biggest thing we've ever done in the 20-odd years I've been in the sport?" said the three-time Winston Cup champion, referring to the inaugural Brickyard 400 Winston Cup stock car race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

"And the pressure really starts [today] with qualifying," he said. "There are 20 spots to lock up [today] and it will be a great relief for any team to get one of those. By the end of the day, 20 guys will be tickled to death and 70 others will be kicking tires."

Tires are one of the big questions here. Goodyear or Hoosiers? Hoosiers or Goodyear?

At Pocono International Raceway three weeks ago, Hoosier tires dominated the pole qualifying and the race. This 2.5-mile track is said to be similar to Pocono, and there are a lot of worried faces and a lot of people talking bravely.

"I'm a Goodyear man and I'm staying with Goodyear," said Dale Earnhardt. "They've done a lot of testing and we're confident they've brought us a good, safe tire."

According to NASCAR rules, teams have until the moment they qualify to choose a tire, but once the tire is chosen and used for qualifying, that is the tire the team must race on. Waltrip said he will test both tires during practice this morning and go with the quickest.

He will then hope for a high qualifying number that will put him on the racetrack in the early evening.

"The guys who have to go out at the start, at 3 p.m., will have a big disadvantage because of the heat," he said. "I'm going to represent myself at the drawing [for a qualifying spot], because if I'm going to shoot myself in the foot, I'd like to have the gun in my hand."

Winner's trophy

Although the contract for it is a one-year deal, evidently Saturday's inaugural Brickyard 400 won't be the last.

The Speedway unveiled the new PPG-Brickyard 400 Trophy yesterday, and it has 50 little bricks around its base to accommodate the race winners' names until the year 2044.

Each year the race winner and car owner will get to take home a silver brick trophy molded from a brick used in the original surface of this 2.5-mile racetrack.

Time is right

Speedway president Tony George said this race is being staged because the timing is just right.

"We've been making a lot of important changes and improvements here and they cost a lot of money," George said of the reason he sought a Winston Cup race. "We were looking to do something to bring in more money, and NASCAR was looking to expand to other regions. Our family has been close to the [Bill] France family for years and this was perfect for both of us."

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