Daytona Bud Shootout Notes

Bud Shootout Notebook John Crowley NASCAR Online DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 8, 1998) Notes following Sunday's Bud Shootout and Bud Shootout Qualifier at Daytona International Speedway: The competitive fires produced by the Bud ...

Bud Shootout Notebook

John Crowley NASCAR Online

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 8, 1998)

Notes following Sunday's Bud Shootout and Bud Shootout Qualifier at Daytona International Speedway:

The competitive fires produced by the Bud Shootout are nearly capable of making a windy, cool day at Daytona International Speedway seem like the typically scorching Pepsi 400 July weekend.

Twenty-five laps. One hunded thousand dollars to the winner. And 17 drivers, all anxious to start their seasons with a bang. And that, as evidenced by Sunday's rumble, is as much a part of the event as a collection of red-white-and-blue beer cans in Victory Lane.

There were plenty of bangs before Rusty Wallace hot-footed the restart in his No. 2 Miller Ford Taurus and went on to win his first race at the speedway.

Daytona 500 Bud Pole Award winner Bobby Labonte provided the most heart-stopping of several tangles, as he cut a tire on lap 24, triggering a chain reaction that put his No. 18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac and Joe Nemechek's No. 42 BellSouth Chevrolet on the sidelines. It also resulted in John Andretti leaving a chunk out of the No. 25 Budweiser Chevrolet he was piloting for Hendrick Motorsports somewhere on the exit of Turn 2.

Labonte tried to avert the collision by waving to the cars behind him in a signal of distress, but the close quarters and high speeds left little room to maneuver.

"John Andretti gave me a big ol' shove, and I thought, 'This is going to be pretty good,'" Labonte said. "The right-front tire was going down and I turned the wheel and it wasn't turning. I knew it was trouble, I was waving.

... Most of them went by, but not all of them."

Count Nemechek in the latter group. Andretti and Spencer found the necessary daylight to squeeze past. Nemechek, who had the wall on one side and Mike Skinner's No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet on the other, had nowhere to go. He ran up underneath Labonte, lifting his rear wheels off the track with the force of the impact, and sending them both spinning and smoking into the infield.

"All of a sudden, Bobby shot up from the bottom up to the top," Nemechek said. "We all had a head of steam, but he was there and I was pinched. I couldn't stop and there was nowhere to go."

Andretti was involved in an earlier incident as well, but he was similarly without fault. Ward Burton was the victim this time, as his No. 22 MBNA Pontiac closed out the day on lap 23 after an unplanned introduction to the wall.

"I got hit," Burton said. "John (Andretti) didn't mean to do it. We work well together."

Wallace sported a new paint scheme on his No. 2 Ford Taurus -- customary for most teams in the Bud Shootout . But the theme of the scheme found its way into the postrace interview, a topic that's usually newsworthy only in the days leading up to the race.

Wallace's hood bore the tagline "The Adventures of Rusty." The source is a series of Miller Brewing television commercials where Wallace's car is purportedly so fast that he can travel back in time with it.

"We spent four days out in Los Angeles filming three different commercials -- it shows my car going faster than the speed of light," he said with such conviction that you almost wonder if he really believes it.

"The car is so fast that I turn back the clock and go back in time. It's been a lot of fun."

The commercials made their network broadcast debut last weekend.

Two names familiar to NASCAR fans, but not necessarily to followers of the ARCA Series, made fans sit up and take notice during the Firstplus Financial 200.

Former NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Cintas Rookie of the Year Kenny Irwin won the event in a Robert Yates-prepared Thunderbird. His primary reason for running the race was to prepare for the draft and improve his understanding of the speedway's many quirks.

Mike Wallace, the former NASCAR Winston Cup Series veteran who drives for Ken Schrader on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, finished second.

"I learned a lot today; how to draft and what it takes to win races," said Irwin. "But we've got a long way to go."

While Irwin settles into his new role in the No. 28 Texaco/Havoline Ford, the car's former driver, Ernie Irvan, appears to be more than comfortable in the No. 36 Skittles Pontiac. He ran with the lead pack for much of the Bud Shootout before finishing seventh

"We had a really good car. Obviously, the Pontiacs have looked good," Irvan said. "The Skittles car has been performing well so we'll just have to start working on it for the 125s."

Dale Jarrett has a reputation as a guy who could fall out of bed and still be fast at Daytona International Speedway, where he has won two Daytona 500s. In the Bud Shootout it appeared he got out of the sack on the wrong side. He finished 11th in a rather pedestrian outing that never saw the No. 88 Quality Care/Ford Credit Ford challenge for the lead.

"It was rather uneventful," he said. "We didn't have the right gear and didn't have the right transmission. ... As soon as I hit high gear it just acted like it stopped."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers John Andretti , Ward Burton , Ernie Irvan , Dale Jarrett , Bobby Labonte , Rusty Wallace , Mike Skinner , Ken Schrader , Mike Wallace , Robert Yates
Teams Hendrick Motorsports