Charlotte: Pre-race news and notes

NEWS OF NOTE * Gentlemen, start your engine... The one-engine rule will remain in effect for Sunday's Coca-Cola Racing Family 600. NASCAR Winston Cup teams are allowed to utilize one engine during the weekend and should they be forced to use ...


* Gentlemen, start your engine... The one-engine rule will remain in effect for Sunday's Coca-Cola Racing Family 600. NASCAR Winston Cup teams are allowed to utilize one engine during the weekend and should they be forced to use another they will start the race from the rear of the field. In the 10 races this season that the one-engine rule has been in effect (the exception was the Daytona 500), the field totaled 430 engines and only 19 had been changed before qualifying and the race. "One of the primary issues that plays a bigger part in engine longevity is not the number of miles but the number of times it goes through a heat cycle," NASCAR Winston Cup Series Director John Darby said."The heat cycle is when you have a cold engine, fire it up, bring it up to temperature and then shut it off. Now in a longer race, parts fatigue will play a role in an engine failure. Unlike in years past, the schedule that we have this weekend mirrors what we do every week. Practices are usually what dictate the number of heat cycles an engine goes through. The engine builders I've talked to are okay with going 600 miles on an engine - I think we're in agreement that any failures that might occur during the race would probably have done so under our old rules."

* Toeing the line... Rusty Wallace (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford) sustained three broken toes on his left foot after being involved in an accident during the first segment of The Winston non-points event last weekend, but is set to compete in Sunday's Coca-Cola Racing Family 600. "It's about as hard as I've ever hit and that includes that head-on deal at Pocono a couple of years back," Wallace said."What made it worse was the fact that I saw the whole thing unfold right in front of me and couldn't do anything about it. I saw the wall and knew it was going to be a hard hit, and it definitely was that."

* On hold... NASCAR Busch Series championship contender Jack Sprague's anticipated NASCAR Winston Cup debut at the Coca-Cola Racing Family 600 has been postponed as the Hendrick team wants to stay focused on its title hopes as well as give the driver more testing time. Sprague, second in the NASCAR Busch Series championship, is scheduled to run a limited five-race NASCAR Winston Cup schedule this season with Haas Automation as the primary sponsor on the No. 60 Chevrolet before the two enter the NASCAR Winston Cup Series fulltime in 2003.

* Fan-tastic mother... Talk about a fan for life. Malinda Yerian of Logan, Ohio has been a long-time fan of NASCAR racing and she made sure her newborn son would carry on the legacy. On April 16, Malinda and William II Yerian became the proud parents of a new son that they named, Winston Iroc Nascar Yerian. "My dad (Dirk) is a race car nut," Malinda told the Lancaster (Ohio) Eagle-Gazette."He has recorded every race on VHS since he was 18 years old. I've been going to races with him ever since I can remember. Hopefully, he (Winston Iroc Nascar) will be a big NASCAR fan. All the other grandchildren are already big fans." By the way, his initials spell" WIN."

* Etc.... Sterling Marlin (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge), Jeremy Mayfield (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge), Mark Martin (No. 6 Pfizer/Viagra Ford), Ryan Newman (No. 12 ALLTEL Ford) and Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Pontiac) are the five eligible drivers for the $1 million No Bull 5 bonus in the Coca-Cola Racing Family 600. Five fans will also be eligible for a $1 million bonus: Colleen Moriarty (Chicago); Jeffrey Kuhn (Hanover Pa.); Janet Hogan (Sterling, Va.); Peggy Moore (White Bear Lake, Minn.); and Charles Dellinger (Sevierville, Tenn.)... Dale Jarrett's No. 88 UPS Ford will sport a pink ribbon decal just behind his car number on each side to exhibit its support of Race Fans for a Cure at the Coca-Cola 600. Race Fans for a Cure, a joint initiative involving Ford Credit, Dale and Kelley Jarrett and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, is designed to increase awareness of breast cancer and the importance of early detection, and to provide ways for fans to support the Komen Foundation and its mission to eradicate breast cancer as a life-threatening disease.


* Owners Rick Hendrick and Jack Roush have enjoyed immense success at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Hendrick is tied with Junior Johnson for most owner victories (8), including a run of at least one win from 1996-99 and a sweep in' 89. Roush has six career owner wins, including at least one in each of the last four seasons. His team also has captured the last three Coca-Cola Racing Family 600s, with Jeff Burton (No. 99 CITGO Ford) in 1999 and 2001, and Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DeWalt Power Tools Ford) registering his first career NASCAR Winston Cup victory in 2000.

* Burton has captured the Coca-Cola Racing Family 600 title two of the last three years (1999, 2001) and has finished among the top eight in eight of his last 10 starts at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

* Mark Martin (No. 6 Pfizer/Viagra Ford) enters the Coca-Cola Racing Family 600 with a streak of 13 consecutive finishes among the top 12 at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Among those 13 performances, 10 have been top-five finishes, including wins in 1992,' 95 and' 98. None of those wins, however, have come in the Coca-Cola Racing Family 600

* Bobby Labonte (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac) has finished among the top five in the Coca-Cola Racing Family 600 for the past four years. He finished fifth last year, runner-up in 2001 and 2000, and third in 1998.

* Reigning NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) enjoyed a run in which he won the Coca-Cola Racing Family 600 three out of five years, including consecutive wins in 1997-98. His other victory came in 1994, the first triumph of his illustrious career. Gordon has four wins overall at Lowe's Motor Speedway, which is tops among active drivers and tied for third all time for career wins at the speedway. The all-time leaders with six wins each are Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip.


* "I love racing at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Returning to the site of your first win is always special, and going back to a track we run really well at always helps. We were pretty good last weekend in The Winston, so hopefully everything will last through the 600 miles and we will put that car in Victory Lane." - Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DeWalt Power Tools Ford), who captured his first career NASCAR Winston Cup win at Lowe's Motor Speedway in 2000.

* "Last weekend in The Winston, the Lowe's Power of Pride Chevy was tremendous and we were able to win the first two segments of the race. We'll be using the same race car as we did in The Winston; it's the first Lowe's Chevy that Chad (Knaus) has built this season and I couldn't ask for a better race car. The entire Lowe's team is looking forward to getting back on our home track this weekend and running well for our fans." - Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet).


* Fred Lorenzen became the first driver to win both Charlotte events from the pole in the same season in 1965, capturing the World 600 and National 400 in a Ford for owners Holman-Moody. The only other driver to date to match the feat was David Pearson, who won the 1974 World 600 and National 500 from the pole in a Mercury for the Wood Brothers.


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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Darrell Waltrip , Matt Kenseth , Bobby Labonte , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Sterling Marlin , Ryan Newman , Jimmie Johnson , Junior Johnson , Bobby Allison , Jack Roush , Mark Martin , David Pearson , Fred Lorenzen