Crash puts Burton in backup car for Twin 125s

Sadler auto also damaged

media poll picks Gordon to be Winston Cup champ

Daytona notebook

Auto Racing

February 12, 2003|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Jeff Burton will be driving a backup Ford in tomorrow's Twin 125-Mile qualifying race, thanks to an accident yesterday afternoon.

Burton's Ford and that of Elliott Sadler had nowhere to go when the Pontiacs of Mike Skinner and rookie Jack Sprague collided during a practice for Sunday's Daytona 500.

"There were so many people there, there was no way to be missed," said Skinner, who was running on the inside lane, three abreast in a big pack of cars.

FOR THE RECORD - Because of an editing error, a chart in yesterday's editions incorrectly indicated NASCAR driver Mark Martin had won four Winston Cup titles. Martin has finished second four times, but has not won any titles. The Sun regrets the error.

Sprague, running in the middle lane, tapped Skinner's right rear bumper and set things in motion.

"I've seen it happen before," said Burton, in a flat tone. "There was nothing I could do. But that's the way it is here. The only way to figure out what your car can do in a pack of cars during the 500 is to put it in there [during practice] and see what happens. If you don't, you won't have any idea on Sunday."

That was the situation for Sadler, who had led much of the day's practice session. With about four minutes left to run, he had dropped back into the field, "just to see what my car would do around a lot of turbulence, and right at that time, the wreck happened."

His crew was looking over his car to determine whether he'd go to a backup car.

"There's a lot of time until Sunday, so we'll see what happens," Sadler said.

Gordon tops poll

Who is most likely to win the 2003 Winston Cup championship?

According to a NASCAR-run media poll, the answer is Jeff Gordon, who already has four titles to his name.

"Thanks for the honor and the pressure," said Gordon, as he looked at the preseason Top 10 picks. "It's pretty overwhelming, when you look at our season last year and at some of the criticism we took because of mistakes that were made and where our focus was."

Gordon's focus was questioned because of the breakup of his seven-year marriage.

Current champion Tony Stewart was second, followed by Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch, Mark Martin, Sterling Marlin, Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Rusty Wallace.

Foyt rookies

The Foyt name will be back on track at Indianapolis this year. And at Daytona.

A.J. Foyt, who has won four Indianapolis 500s and one Daytona 500, will field the No. 14 Dodge in the Winston Cup series for his son Larry this season. And, at the same time, he will field a car in the Indy Racing League for his grandson, A.J. Foyt IV.

Both Foyts will be running for Rookie of the Year honors.

"I just want to run decent, qualify and show I deserve to be at this level," said Larry Foyt. "If we qualify for every race, that would be a great season."

Leffler gets pole

Second-year Craftsman Truck Series driver Jason Leffler claimed his ninth career pole in 24 races yesterday when he ran 182.994 mph to take the top spot in the Florida Dodge Dealers 250.

Robert Pressley, who like Leffler is driving a Dodge, earned the outside pole with a run of 181.973.

All-time Top 10

NASCAR's list of the drivers with the most Top 10 finishes in the end-of-season Winston Cup standings. Ricky Rudd, at No. 3, is the only driver on the list with no championships. (*-active driver)

Top

Driver 10s Titles

1. Richard Petty 25 7

2. Dale Earnhardt 20 7

3. Ricky Rudd* 19 0

4. Darrell Waltrip 18 3

4. Bobby Allison 18 1

6. Terry Labonte* 16 2

6. Rusty Wallace* 16 1

8. Bill Elliott* 13 1

8. Mark Martin* 13 4

10. Lee Petty 12 3

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