BUSCH: Schwantz Sharp in Return to Daytona

Schwantz sharp in return to Daytona John Crowley - NASCAR Online DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 14, 1998) Kevin Schwantz went 100 miles farther than he'd ever gone at Daytona International Speedway Saturday, and used two tires instead of four...

Schwantz sharp in return to Daytona John Crowley - NASCAR Online

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 14, 1998)

Kevin Schwantz went 100 miles farther than he'd ever gone at Daytona International Speedway Saturday, and used two tires instead of four to do it.

And despite the fact that at day's end he was seven spots from Victory Lane - a place he called his own here in 1988 - he couldn't have asked for better results in the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division's season-opening NAPA Auto Parts 300.

"It's been 10 years since I raced anything here," said the native of Houston, "so today was a real learning session."

Schwantz is driving the No. 77 Ryder Chevrolet for Ridling Motorsports, a team in which he holds co-ownership. He's also a Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate, which tends to temper expectations for the race with the biggest purse on the 1998 schedule.

But Schwantz is not a newcomer to the 2.5 mile tri-oval that Bill France Sr. carved out of the shifting Florida sands. The 1993 World Grand Prix Motorcycle champion won the Daytona 200 here in 1988, two years after riding his Suzuki to a second-place finish. All told, he won 25 events on a 500cc machine, the elite class of international road racing.

Staying out of trouble - something that's a matter of physical survival on a motorcyle - was a skill that served him well on a day when seven cars were officially knocked out of the race due to accidents, and a handful of others finished the race bearing little resemblance to the machines that took the green flag.

His smooth hand and steady foot also brought him from a starting spot of 16th into the top-10, where he spent much of the day, comfortably running with veterans. After falling back early, he shepherded the No. 17 Ridling Motorsports entry back into contention following several cautions.

It wasn't champagne and kisses, but Schwantz was nevertheless feeling like a winner just for bringing it home like he did. Consider the fact that last season consisted of little more than four starts, and maybe a little Dom Perignon - the signature drink of victorious road racers - is in order. But Schwantz's thirst already had been quenched. And the $27,225 check waiting for him had nothing to do with it.

"It was all excitement from the very first lap to the finish," he said.

Courtesy of NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Kevin Schwantz