Waltrip decries provisional for champions

3-time Winston winner: `Take fastest 43' and run

Daytona Notebook

February 09, 1999|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Darrell Waltrip is here with a new team and, once more, struggling to find speed. But yesterday, he said he thought NASCAR should do away with the "Champions' provisional" starting spot.

It was a strange thing to hear from the three-time Winston Cup champion who used it 20 times in 33 races last season.

"Well, it became a real source of aggravation to me," he said, shortly after his latest practice in his new Ford. "Quite frankly, I don't know why they don't just start the fastest 43 cars and be done with it."

Waltrip's qualifying speed Saturday was 41st fastest at 190.371, nearly 4.7 miles per hour slower than pole-sitter Jeff Gordon's 195.067, and yesterday during practice, he was running even slower during practice (188.806).

"My goal for the 500 is to get into the race and, be on the lead lap when the race is over," he said. "We don't need to look like heroes, we just need to leave here with a finish so we can build and get ourselves started off with a foundation to build on."

Going for it

Maryland drivers Steve Barnes and Donnie Neuenberger will both attempt to qualify today for the Goody's Dash Series race.

And they won't have to wait. In a strange quirk of fate, those two teams drew the No. 1 and No. 2 spots. Thus Westminster's Barnes will be the first on the track and Neuenberger of Brandywine will go out second. Both men drive Pontiacs.

There are 64 drivers attempting to wrap up one of the first 25 starting spots in the 40-car field.

Marcis improves

Dave Marcis was one of just eight drivers who took advantage of second-day qualifying for Sunday's Daytona 500. Marcis, the 32nd fastest car Saturday at 191.955, improved to 192.794, an upward spurt of nine spots.

The new speed, which was the fastest of the day, is important for two reasons. One, it will give him a better starting spot in Thursday's 125-mile qualifiers and two, it could be important should Marcis not finish high enough in the qualifying races to make the 500.

Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart won front-row starting spots for the 500 during Saturday's time trials. Positions 3 through 30 are determined by the Twin 125s and the next six spots go to drivers with the six best qualifying speeds who have not yet made the field.

And the final seven spots go to provisional starters, based on last season's car owner's points standings.

Steve Park also improved from 192.386 mph to 192.592, while Derrike Cope's new Pontiac team gained from 190.685 to 192.160, leaping from 37th to 30th on the grid.

A third round of qualifying will go today.

Pub Date: 2/09/99

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