DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 7, 2002) On March 26, 1955, the world of stock car racing changed forever. On that fateful day, Fonty Flock drove Frank Christian's 1955 Chevrolet to victory in a 200-lap Grand National race on a dusty half-mile oval in...
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 7, 2002) On March 26, 1955, the world of stock car racing changed forever. On that fateful day, Fonty Flock drove Frank Christian's 1955 Chevrolet to victory in a 200-lap Grand National race on a dusty half-mile oval in Columbia, S.C. It was Chevrolet's first NASCAR victory and the first major win for the legendary small-block V8. It would not be the last.
Forty-seven years and 382 wins later, with Super Bowl XXXVI just over and the Salt Lake City 2002 XIX Olympic Winter Games about to begin, Chevrolet prepares to add to its remarkable stock car racing heritage at NASCAR's own Super Bowl, the Daytona 500 on Feb. 17.
The record book shows that Chevrolet has been the dominant manufacturer in professional stock car racing since 1972 the year that marked the start of NASCAR's "modern era" and the beginning of Chevrolet's unrivaled racing record.
With a record 382 wins in 914 starts in NASCAR's modern era, 21 drivers' championships and 26 all-time manufacturers' crowns, Chevrolet stands tall among the carmakers as it aims to extend its winning record at Daytona International Speedway. Chevrolet's 15 victories in the prestigious Daytona 500 lead Ford's tally by five. Plymouth, long gone from NASCAR's racing grids, is third on the list with four wins, followed by Pontiac and Dodge, which continue to compete in the series, tied in third with three wins each.
Team Monte Carlo returns to Daytona for the 500-mile Winston Cup season opener to defend its win here last year when Michael Waltrip in Dale Earnhardt Racing's Monte Carlo won his first Daytona 500 an event marred by the death of seven-time Winston Cup champion Dale Earnhardt in a tragic accident on the final lap.
Thrust into the limelight as the replacement driver for the legendary Earnhardt for the remainder of 2001, Kevin Harvick pulled off a phenomenal achievement while competing in full schedules in Winston Cup and the Busch Series. His double-duty efforts netted him a Busch Series drivers' title, and a ninth-place finish and Rookie of the Year honors in Winston Cup. Harvick will compete in his first Daytona 500 next week.
As the top Chevy performer in 2001, two-time Daytona 500 winner and four-time Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon led Team Monte Carlo's charge to clinch the manufacturers' championship for Chevrolet with his six wins. On behalf of Team Monte Carlo, eight different drivers from four teams scored one or more wins towards Chevrolet's 16 victories in 2001. Six of them return to represent Team Monte Carlo at Daytona: Gordon, Harvick, Michael Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Bobby Hamilton and Robby Gordon.
Vying for Rookie of the Year in 2002 is newcomer Jimmie Johnson, who will drive a fourth Monte Carlo for Hendrick Motorsports, while Jeff Green returns to Winston Cup competition in one of Richard Childress' Chevrolets. They join the six 2001 winners named above and Kenny Wallace, Terry Labonte, Jerry Nadeau, Mike Skinner and Mike Wallace as full-time drivers representing Team Monte Carlo in 2002.
"Chevrolet and GM Racing will face many challenges this season," said Doug Duchardt, NASCAR Group Manager, GM Racing, "not the least of which are the ongoing rules changes mandated by NASCAR in its attempt to level the playing field. We at GM Racing will continue to do our best to assist the Monte Carlo teams to build on Chevrolet's winning heritage in this sport, and we are eager to kick off another championship season in Daytona."
Qualifying for the Daytona 500 begins at 12:05 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 9. The 125-mile qualifying races are scheduled for 1 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 14. The 200-lap Daytona 500 takes the green flag at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 17. The 500 will air live on NBC.