Allen to try Tabasco Pontiac by Shawn A. Akers HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (June 30, 1998) Loy Allen, a two-time Bud Pole winner at Daytona International Speedway who claimed the top qualifying spot for the Daytona 500 as a rookie, has been hired by...

Allen to try Tabasco Pontiac by Shawn A. Akers

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (June 30, 1998) Loy Allen, a two-time Bud Pole winner at Daytona International Speedway who claimed the top qualifying spot for the Daytona 500 as a rookie, has been hired by ISM Racing to drive the No. 35 Tabasco Pontiac in Saturday's Pepsi 400 in place of Todd Bodine, team manager Ted McFlynn said Tuesday.

Despite the first-year team's struggles to qualify for races this season, McFlynn said that Bodine has not been relieved of his duties driving the car. Bodine and Team Tabasco have missed qualifying for eight of the 16 events held thus far in 1998.

"No, Todd isn't out of the car permanently," McFlynn said. "Loy has really run well at Daytona in the past, and that's why we're putting him in the car for this weekend. We'll see if we can't run better, and then we'll evaluate things after the race in Daytona."

Allen was in transit on Tuesday but said, through spokesman Mike Jocoy, "I'm thrilled with the opportunity to get in the Tabasco Pontiac this weekend, but I want to make it known that Todd Bodine is not inept in a race car. There are some things with the entire program that need to be worked out, but I'm excited for the opportunity and I'm looking forward to it."

The deal with Allen, who hasn't had a full-time ride in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series since early 1997, is for one race only at this point. As a rookie in 1994, Allen won the pole for the Daytona 500 and has fared well in the past on the 2.5-mile Daytona tri-oval and at its sister track, the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway.

Allen, who cut his racing teeth in dirt Late Model racing throughout the Southeast, won the pole the first time he went to Daytona, for the 1993 Daytona ARCA 200 ARCA Bondo/Mat-Hyde Series race. It was the first time he'd raced on a track much longer than a half-mile.

Allen hasn't competed in a NASCAR Winston Cup Series race this season, but has driven in two NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division races for Mark III Motorsports. He finished seventh in the Touchstone Energy 300 at Talladega after qualifying 12th, and then struggled in the MBNA Platinum 200 at Dover, Del., where he finished 43rd with rear end problems.

ISM Racing failed to qualify for the season-opening Daytona 500 in February and, in fact, missed the first three races of the season (Daytona, Rockingham and Las Vegas). The next week, Bodine recorded his best finish of the year, 10th, after qualifying on the outside of the front row at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Afterward, however, Bodine missed making races at Texas, Talladega, Dover, Michigan and then Sears Point. He's currently 42nd in the standings.

McFlynn said no other changes to the program have been discussed by Team Tabasco at this point.

"No, we haven't considered an alternate engine program or anything like that," McFlynn said.

Bodine was unavailable for comment Tuesday afternoon.

Source: NASCAR Online

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Series General
Drivers Todd Bodine