Rookie Kenseth prevails in tuneup

500 `to be a lot harder'

Gordon runs into Jarrett

Daytona notebook

February 20, 2000|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Rookie Winston Cup driver Matt Kenseth won his first race at Daytona International Speedway yesterday. But it was in the Busch Series' NAPA Auto Parts 300.

Kenseth held off Joe Nemechek and Terry Labonte for the victory, averaging 140.7351 mph in his Visine Chevrolet to win by 0.153 seconds.

"I think the 500 is going to be a lot harder than this," said the rookie, who earned $98,750. "My Busch car is more stable, twice as stable as my Daytona 500 car. With the new shock and spring rule it's hard to make them run well because of the limited adjustments you can make."

The Busch race, like Friday's Craftsman Truck race, was marred by several scary accidents, but no one was hurt.

"I really don't know why the cars are getting up into the air," said Labonte. "It seems to be just the circumstances they're in. And I don't know if you'll see it in the 500, because our cars aren't running as close together as these cars did today -- unfortunately."

Just asking

Was Jeff Gordon searching for a way to even things up between the top running Fords and his Chevrolet yesterday when he smashed into the rear bumper of Dale Jarrett's Ford during the final Winston Cup practice session?

Nah.

"They checked up and I was right behind DJ," said Gordon. "[Dale] Earnhardt was outside of me and I got right into them as they checked up. I'm thankful that DJ didn't hit anybody or anybody hit him. It could have been a lot worse. DJ knows there wasn't anything I could do."

Jarrett slowed to avoid some cars squiggling in front of him and Gordon simply couldn't get his foot on the brake in time. Jarrett then brushed the side of Bill Elliott's car.

Jarrett's car appeared to have only sheet metal damage. Jarrett said the suspension is intact.

It was interesting to note that when those on the Robert Yates team tried to lower the garage doors as they did their repairs, NASCAR officials who were observing made them keep the doors open.

Injury update

Driver Geoffrey Bodine, who suffered a broken wrist, fractured vertebrae and facial lacerations in a spectacular crash during Friday's Craftsman Truck race, remained in intensive care in Halifax Medical Center in serious but stable condition.

One of the two fans who were hospitalized following the crash also remains hospitalized in satisfactory condition with a broken arm.

Dodge confirms

Ray Evernham, a team owner and the man in charge of building the Dodge race car for the manufacturers' racing program that will debut next season, is no longer alone.

Dodge made it official yesterday: Petty Enterprises and Bill Davis Racing have been named to partner with Evernham Motorsports.

Yesterday's announcement brings to seven the number of Dodge Intrepid R/Ts that will debut here next year. In the driver's seats will be Kyle Petty, John Andretti and Adam Petty from Petty Enterprises, and Ward Burton and Dave Blaney from Davis Racing.

"We have created a strategic alliance that blends some of the very best racing minds and driving talent in Winston Cup racing," said Jim Julow, vice president of the Dodge Division. "Our driver lineup features a healthy blend of established Winston Cup stars and emerging stars of the future."

Lee and Richard Petty were part of Dodge's initial successful run in the series in the 1950s through the 1970s, sparking rumors that Petty Enterprises was heading back to Dodge.

Evernham Motorsports' drivers have not yet been named.

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