Sunday, September 1, 2002
Ganassi or Yates will have third team
DARLINGTON, S.C. -- There's still a slight possibility
Robert Yates could be forced to field three teams next season if
sponsor Chevron/Texaco opts out of an agreement with Chip Ganassi
Chevron, which currently sponsors the No. 28 Ford that Ricky
Rudd drives for Yates, is believed to be moving to Ganassi next
season to fund a third entry.
But Yates said the deal had a clause that allowed the sponsor to
go back to him if the Ganassi entry did not shape up to its liking.
Because there's such a slim pool of available drivers for Ganassi
to pick from, that could happen.
The deadline is this week, Yates said.
"There is a return date in which they have to make up their
mind," Yates said. "But I think they are pleased with Chip and
it's just a matter of finding a driver."
Yates is firm in that he only wants to field two cars next
season. Elliott Sadler is stepping into the ride Rudd currently
drives and M&M's will sponsor it. So Yates tried to get out of his
deal with Texaco a year early, freeing the company to sign with
Ganassi officials have not confirmed that they have made a
sponsorship deal with Texaco, but have admitted they want to field
three teams next season.
NASCAR has informed the teams it will require
them to have standard body locations in 2003, meaning all the cars
will be nearly identical in chassis setups.
It will be a huge expense for teams to complete -- car owner Ray
Evernham said it will cost him $1 million and 12,000 man hours to
re-skin his 32 Dodge Intrepids -- but NASCAR wants it to eliminate
"An obvious reason for this is that it will cut out some of the
arguments we get when one team or one make is winning a bunch of
races," said Winston Cup director John Darby. "They'll all be in
equal equipment starting next year, it will just be a matter of
what they do with it."
There is now no restriction on how far forward or backward the
body on a Cup car can be located. Teams vary that position from
track to track to help balance the car. Bodies are moved forward on
superspeedways to keep air off the rear spoilers and reduce drag,
and moved backward on shorter tracks.
Robbie Loomis, crew chief for Southern 500 winner Jeff Gordon,
said the change will now put a larger emphasis on the teams and how
they set the cars up for the drivers.
"It's going to put the chassis setups more into play and force
the driver to rely on what the crew can do to give him a good
car," Loomis said. "It's also going to quiet down some
complaining because if a team struggles with a standard body
location, it's self-inflected because everything started equally."
The most distinctive smell at Darlington Raceway
this weekend? The harsh, pungent fumes of jet fuel as Southern 500
officials kept drying and re-drying "The Track Too Wet To Race."
Darlington does not own a jet dryer. It borrowed seven machines
for the soggy weekend -- three from Daytona, and one each from
Martinsville, Talladega, Richmond and Rockingham.
And they were called on often as storms settled over the track.
Rain canceled Winston Cup and Busch qualifying Friday.
On Saturday, NASCAR officials delayed the start of the Busch
race four hours due to showers. They waited until dark before
leading winner Jeff Burton and field over the line to reach the
official halfway point.
It was nearly two hours before things got going in the Southern
500. Drivers ran 18 caution laps at the start to keep drying out
Darlington spokeswoman Cathy Mock said 6,000 gallons of jet fuel
were used on Saturday with 14,000 gallons ready for Sunday's
The fuel, she said, cost a reasonable $1.25 a gallon.
Terry Labonte took part in his 25th straight
Southern 500. The track presented him with a crystal bowl trophy to
remember the moment. Labonte ended 31st.
Steve Park's bad luck
at Darlington continued. Handling problems left him in 36th. Park
was hoping for a good showing at the track where a horrifying Busch
crash blurred his vision and slurred his speech during months of