Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2000. Daytona International Speedway. Chevrolet notes and quotes. DAVE MARCIS (No. 71 Realtree Chevrolet Monte Carlo) NOTE: Marcis, a 58-year-old Wisconsin native, will be trying to qualify for a record 33rd straight...
Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2000. Daytona International Speedway. Chevrolet notes and quotes.
DAVE MARCIS (No. 71 Realtree Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
NOTE: Marcis, a 58-year-old Wisconsin native, will be trying to qualify for a record 33rd straight Daytona 500 on Thursday in the 125-mile qualifying race. Marcis will start 22nd in the second Twin 125 and needs to finish 14th or better to qualify for Sunday's Great American Race. Marcis made his first Daytona 500 start in 1968. He started 35th and finished 20th. Ironically, Marcis started 35th in the 1999 Daytona 500 and finished 16th, the first car one lap down. In 32 Daytona 500 starts, Marcis scored a career-best finish of sixth in 1975.
"Our qualifying time is nowhere near good enough to make the race. We're going to have to work on the car and race really good in the draft. We're going to have to race our way into the Daytona 500. It went right down to the wire last year, but we got in on our qualifying speed.
"I hope things work out and we can finish in the top 14 so we can start on Sunday. I've seen plenty of good races here at Daytona through the years. Waddell Wilson brought that Pontiac down here one year and Bobby Allison had an advantage like Dale Jarrett seems to have this year. I've seen Cale Yarborough with that kind of advantage, and I've seen Richard Petty with it. I've seen Earnhardt with that advantage down here, but that doesn't mean the best car can't be beat. Who's to say somebody gets together and bumps him a little bit and bends the tow and that screws it up. It's a long day, but at the moment, given all the facts, Jarrett looks pretty dominant.
"If I can get my car working good, I think I can race my way in. I've had to do that on a few occasions before. It would certainly would be more desirable to have a good time to fall back on. It's looked pretty bad several times before, too. I'm not going to lose any sleep over it. I want to be in it for several reasons. I want to make it the 33rd. Financially it starts our whole season. It's a super boost for my team. It gives us some money to work with to start the season. I can assure you we're going to give it our best shot. We're not giving up, and we're not talking about giving up. We'll be running as hard as we can to get in.
"I remember my first Daytona 500 in 1968. It was pretty scary. I was in my mid 20s and had just come off the short tracks, quarter miles and third miles. I did run Milwaukee, but it's a flat mile. I ran the Minnesota Fair, and that was a half mile, but just coming into this place when you look around, you look into turn one when you come through that tunnel and in those days the infield was wide open. You could see turn one real easy when you drove through the tunnel. I couldn't believe the length of the straightaways. I knew it was a two and a half mile track, but you just don't put it in perspective until you see it. I couldn't believe they ran around here flat-footed. They all tell you that, but when you go out there, you lift the first time. You find out real quick you can do it, but that stands out in my mind the first time I came here. When I came through the tunnel I looked at the left and saw turns three and four. Then I looked to the right and you could see turn one. I couldn't believe it was all race track.
"I'm excited about getting back down here every February, and I look forward to it. Now that I've done it so many times, you don't get the butter flies you used to get, but I look forward to it. I've raced with Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, Donnie Allison, Buddy Baker, Benny Parsons at Daytona. I guess they were smarter than me and made more money and they could retire.
"I've pretty much been a low budget racer all my life, and everything I make I pretty much spend back on the sport. For me, it's been a job and in the past I've never tried to put anything away. I wasn't considering quitting or retiring. I was spending all I could make to get more competitive. I was trying to win more races, and I'm still here trying to make a living. I guess that's the way to look at it. I tried to do in the last three or four years toward retirement. Up until that time, I'd never done nothing. I never gave it any thought.
"Some of the salaries some people get today, if I didn't have a sponsor to pay a driver that salary I couldn't do well. I don't have enough money to pay a driver. The driving ability is not about age. It's not like we're running down a football field or a basketball court. We're just sitting behind a steering wheel, and there ain't nothing hard about that. You've got to be in good shape to take the heat and all, but I am in good shape. If you're 28 or 58, what the hell is the difference? I don't think that's the issue.
"Experience is better. You've been through all those situations. Put me in one of the best cars in this garage and I'll go out there and race with everybody else. No problem. Simple. If I have to close my team up and can't keep going and there's a ride available, if I was given the opportunity I'd damn sure take it. I enjoy it. It's a lot of fun. (The high-dollar teams) just make it tough for us little guys, and I wish I had the people and resources behind me and the engineering and money, but we're going to do the best with what we've got.
"Richard Childress and his guys help us a lot. Without Richard's restrictor-plate engines we'd be hurting. They try to help us with aerodynamic stuff. He's been a big asset for us. I test drive for him whenever he needs me. All he has to do is tell me where we're going to test and I'll be there.
"I love driving, and testing is a way to create income for my team. If I had put my IROC testing money away every year, I would have a great retirement. But I used that to stay in business with my Winston Cup team.
"If there's a possibility that someone might need a driver, I would stay for the Daytona 500 if I don't make the race. If not, I'll probably go home. Maybe someone would rather have a veteran in their car for the Daytona 500 than a rookie, and I'd get a chance to start the race anyhow. That ain't the way I want it, but if that's the way it's got to be, that'd be fine with me."
RICHARD CHILDRESS (Car owner RCR Chevrolet Monte Carlos)
"He's got to do it in the qualifying race. A lot of cars are out there that he would normally beat under normal circumstances, but this isn't a normal circumstance year. I hope he makes it, but it's definitely not normal circumstances. Physical condition, Dave is in better shape than most of the 35 and 40-year-old guys out there. Dave has done a good job over the years and he's really represented the sport well. I hope he makes it. He's driven so many miles and has so much experience, he can tell you things as a test driver that most drivers can't. The big thing on Thursday is if he can stay out of a wreck or don't cut a tire. So many things can be a determining factor. It's a pretty tall order, but I wouldn't bet against him."
LARRY McCLURE (Car owner No. 4 Kodak Max film Monte Carlo)
"Dave Marcis is kind of like an institution in Winston Cup. He's still a hard racer. I know he's going to have to race hard to get into this race, and each year it gets more difficult. He has a single-car operation and he's not nearly as well financed as most of these people. Even though a lot of people support him and help him when they can, it would be tremendous to see him in another Daytona 500. I wish him the best. He doesn't cut you any slack. He's out there stroking. That's the thing people admire most. If he had to just go out there and stroke, he wouldn't do it."
LARRY McREYNOLDS (Crew chief No. 31 Lowe's Monte Carlo)
"The manner and the way Dave Marcis has done what he's done in this sport is on his own without a lot of help from a lot of people. Richard Childress and Danny Lawrence and the RCR engine guys over the years have helped him, but it's not like Dale Earnhardt doing it 33 straight times at 58 years old. He's had Richard Childress Racing behind him doing it. Dave Marcis has had Dave and Helen Marcis behind him doing it. I think that's perhaps the most phenomenal factor of that whole deal. I hope he can make it happen. It's getting tougher every year, and he's got to race his way in. He's in the second 125. I'm not saying there's an easy one, but if there is one that looks better than the other, the second one looks to be a little easier. I know Dave is going to be racing his guts out. He does that anyway, but I know he really wants to keep that streak going. I hope it happens for him. I'll bet there ain't a soul in this garage area that don't wish the same thing for him."
MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 7 NationsRent Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"I love his perseverance. He's just a working man. He's worked hard to get to this point, and Dave loves to drive a race car. He loves to prepare a race car. More power to him. I'm proud to know him, and I'm proud to think that we're friends. He's what this sport is all about. I hope Thursday goes well for him.
"I know how he feels. We're 24th fastest and we don't think that's going to get us in. We're 29th in the points, and we don't think that's going to get us in. We're sitting here looking at the same thing Dave is. We're going to have to race our way in. That's a lot of pressure. I know I've got a car that I can make the race with and should be able to win my 125, but when it comes down to it, the fact remains is we're going to have to race our way into the race. With that being said, and knowing how I feel about that, Dave is feeling the same thing. I know he's as confident as I am that he can make it, but it's still a task.
"The Twins are fun races when they're over. I love racing. I love competing, but man, it doesn't get stacked any heavier on you than Thursday. I ran second here a couple of years ago in the race and felt like I could win the race. They ended it under caution, but when it's all over you know what you've got for the Daytona 500. If it's good, you're excited. If it isn't, then you know you've got to make your car better. It's so valuable when it's over, but as we head up toward them, they're a pain in the butt."
STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"I'd like to see Marcis get in every race because he's one of the last true independents. It's a shame sometimes how it all presents itself and how it's all strung out. I'd definitely like to see him make it. He's done a lot with nothing, but it'll be tough. I've had to start in the back and I've started up front in the Twins. Sometimes it gets a little wild, and sometimes it doesn't. I'm usually in the top five and don't have to worry about the transfer spot, but I've seen them get wild in those last few laps. We're decent, but we've got a spot in the points if something happens. Dave's just got to try to miss the big wreck if there is one. He's got one of Childress' motors, so I wouldn't bet against him making it."
RICK MAST (No. 41 Big Daddy's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"I guess different people have different opinions of Dave Marcis, but it's total admiration on my part. How in the world that cat has been able to do all he's done this many years? Years ago, it wasn't that big of a deal. A lot of people did it the way he did it. The last five or six years, he's still been able to keep it together and show up and make a decent living. He still makes the majority of the shows. It's really phenomenal. All you've got to do is walk in the shops and look at all the money that's being spent on R&D and all the efforts going into all the programs. Walk in Dave's shop, and it's not that way. It's total respect from my perspective. He's a hard-headed fellow who does it one way, his way, and he's made it work over the years. On the race track, you race Dave a certain way. If you want to get wrecked, go up there and lay a bumper on Marcis and you'll get wrecked. It's very simple. That's the way racing was for years, and he still does it that way. It's absolutely phenomenal.
"To get in in the qualifying race, it's going to be pretty tough for everybody. We're sitting there 20th quickest and feeling halfway safe about it and hoping we don't have any big wrecks. If we don't, we'll be OK. Like Dave, he doesn't have anything to fall back on. He's surprised me a lot of times in the past. For him to get in in the qualifying race on Thursday would not be a big surprise to me. He's been able to pull off the unthinkable the last few years, and there's no reason to think he can't do it again.
"Where you end up Thursday determines where you start Sunday and a lot of times, if you don't have a super fast race car and you've got to start towards the back, you can never get to that lead pack. You'll get hung up. If you've got a super fast race car you can get up through there, but if you don't, where you finish Thursday is real important for Sunday. It's disappointing that we're sitting there with the 20th fastest speed and all the other races all year, you're fixing your car after qualifying to go racing . Here, you're 20th and you're getting ready for a qualifying race. That's a little disheartening, but that's the way it's been for years. I'm not one to buck tradition. That's just the way it is and that's the way it's always going to be. When it's all said and done, Dave Marcis is probably going to be right there with us."