BUSCH: Busch Clash practice notes 96-02-10

Busch Clash on-tap at Daytona on Sunday After clean final practice session DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The final Busch Clash of '96 practice concluded Saturday afternoon at Daytona International Speedway without incident, preparing a record 17...

Busch Clash on-tap at Daytona on Sunday After clean final practice session

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The final Busch Clash of '96 practice concluded Saturday afternoon at Daytona International Speedway without incident, preparing a record 17 entries for the 18th annual Clash at noon on Sunday. Rick Mast of Rockbridge Baths, Va., drew the pole position for the high-dollar special event and will lead the field in the Hooters Pontiac. Defending Busch Clash winner Dale Earnhardt will start 16th while defending NASCAR Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon will start shotgun -- 17th -- on the field.

Top entertainers to sing the National Anthem during Speedweeks '96 opening ceremonies

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Don Cox, Claire Lynch, Darlene Austin and Mark Collie are scheduled to sing the National Anthem during Speedweeks. The live renditions are an integral part of opening ceremonies race days. Country artist Cox will be featured during the opening ceremonies of the Feb. 11 running of the Busch Clash of '96. Cox is actively involved in racing, having joined forces with former NASCAR Busch Series Rookie of the Year Hermie Sadler. The association will promote racing, country music and, additionally, raise funds for the Winston Cup Racing Wives Auxiliary. Cox's second album, "Each 1's A Winner" has just been released.


DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Monte Carlo) -- It's a 10-lap race and that's all there is to it. There's 17 cars in it this time, so it's going to be tougher coming from the rear the way the combinations are today. It's going to make drafting a little tougher, so you're going to have to rethink what you're doing. It's a carefree race because there's no points involved, but it's a go-for-broke race. We care about it very much because we want to win it again. We've won it six times, and we're going to go after it again. I need to get my average (finish) up.

STERLING MARLIN (No. 4 Kodak Film Chevrolet Monte Carlo) -- We came from 14th or 15th last year and were running second within two laps. If two of 'em up front get racing side by side, it allows the cars in the back to catch up. If they all get lined up single file, it'll be tough for someone to come from the back. It pays to win both segments, and that's what we're going to try to do. If we can win the first one, we'll go to the rear and try to come to the front again. I don't know if 10 laps will be enough to come from the back to the front or not. We might need 15, but we're only going to get 10. If we get boxed up back there for a couple of laps, it'll really be tough. You won't have time to wait, that's for sure.

JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) -- I really like the Clash car. I think it's going to be pretty good. It's not going to be easy coming from the back to the front in that first segment, but we're going to try. I hope we can come from the back to the front in the second segment, too. There's $70,000 up for grabs if you win it all. I know it pays more to win the second segment ($45,000), but I'm going to try my hardest to get to the front in the first 10 laps. Earnhardt has done it before, and the reason he's done it is because he tried hard. I can't make a game plan. All I can do is go out there and try. If I realize I'm not going to get to the front, then I'll see what happens from there. I've won the first leg. I've won the second leg, but I've never won 'em both.

TERRY LABONTE (No. 5 Kellogg's Corn Flakes Monte Carlo) -- It's a 10-lap race, so do you run good in the first segment so you can start at the back in the second segment? A lot of cars are running good, and it's going to be hard to pass. I wish is was just a 20-lap race or even a 10-lap race. With 17 cars, I don't think anyone is going to come from the back to the front in 10 laps unless they jump the start or something. I don't really have a plan, but I think you might see a race for last place in the first segment. If two good cars finish at the back in the first segment, they could really check out in those last 10 laps. If they got single file and those other guys started racing behind them, they could really check out. Two good cars are starting at the back in the first segment, but those two guys won't stay back there. I probably wouldn't either if I could get to the front.

KEN SCHRADER (No. 25 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo) -- I don't really know what to expect in the Clash. We haven't had a lot of practice, and it's been a long time since I've been in it. I've won it a couple of times, so we'll be trying to make it three on Sunday.

DARRELL WALTRIP (No. 17 Western Auto Parts America Monte Carlo) -- We're not going to do anything wild and crazy. We're just going to try to hang on. We're going to put another motor in the car, and that might help. It's driving good, but it's just not very fast. I don't know what's wrong. It kind of scrambles my brains when I come down here. You forget everything you know and start trying some new tricks. Those tricks haven't worked yet, but we're still trying.

DAVE MARCIS (No. 71 Prodigy Chevrolet Monte Carlo) -- I don't think I'm going to win it, but I don't think I'm going to finish last either. Every segment pays money and every position pays money. I want to get all I can. The car's working good, but we had a miss in the engine yesterday and haven't been able to find it. We'll keep working on it and hopefully we'll be ready to go on Sunday.

DAVID GREEN (No. 96 Busch Chevrolet Monte Carlo) -- We'll probably get the most improved award. I think we've picked up about two seconds a lap since we started. This is our test session. We didn't get to test, so that's what we're doing now. We've got a good car. Richard Childress is doing the engines and there's not a doubt in my mind that we've got a good engine. I think there might be a few things wrong with the car and we're just slow. We haven't had a lot of practice. It's hard to draft and do what we need to do for me to get ready. I told Kirk Shelmerdine (crew chief) that we've changed everything except the driver and he's holding it wide open. Richard Childress came over and checked on us, but it just takes time. Last year was tough for us, and this year has been tough, too, so I'm getting a lot of experience dealing with the tough times. It's just neat to be in this field and it's really neat to be in it two years in a row. I can't describe the feeling I'll have just to be out there on Sunday at noon with the CBS cameras and all the fans and all the great drivers. Twenty laps, a lot of fans and a lot of money. The Busch Clash is the Great American race for me.

BOBBY LABONTE (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Monte Carlo) -- We've got a good starting spot for the first segment. I hope we don't have a better starting spot for the second 10 laps. We've been having a few problems, but we haven't given up yet. We'll be ready to race when they drop the flag. Hopefully we can get hooked up in the draft and stay up front.

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Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Rick Mast , Hermie Sadler , Kirk Shelmerdine