Daytona Ernie Irvan Will Miss Practice and Qualifying

Irvan may miss Pepsi 400 By Dave Rodman DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 15, 1998) Ernie Irvan, saying he felt like he'd been an unwilling participant in an alley brawl, Thursday opted to step out of his No. 36 Wild Berry Skittles Pontiac for the...

Irvan may miss Pepsi 400 By Dave Rodman

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 15, 1998) Ernie Irvan, saying he felt like he'd been an unwilling participant in an alley brawl, Thursday opted to step out of his No. 36 Wild Berry Skittles Pontiac for the opening round of practice and Bud Pole Qualifying for Saturday's Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway.

Ironically, MB2 Motorsports elected to hire Ricky Craven to practice and qualify Irvan's car and, if necessary continue to drive the car throughout the weekend. Craven is among the drivers who have stepped out of their NASCAR Winston Cup Series cars this season due to injuries incurred in racing accidents.

Craven's situation this season has been the most dramatic of any of the injured drivers. He missed some 12 races after stepping out of his Hendrick Motorsports-owned Budweiser Chevrolet earlier this spring. He returned with a Bud Pole-winning performance at New Hampshire International Speedway in July, but was fired only four races after his return.

While Craven has continued to race his NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division New Holland Chevrolet, the Pepsi 400 would be his first race back in a NASCAR Winston Cup Series car if Irvan elects to sit out. And that's a definite possibility, he said.

"If I was the only one who had done something like this, people might say 'Why'd you do that?'" Irvan said of his decision. "But the other guys have laid the groundwork, so I didn't see anything wrong with this decision."

Irvan was involved in an 11-car accident in last Sunday's Winston 500 at Talladega Superspeedway that began when his car was apparently nudged by Sterling Marlin's Coors Light Chevrolet. Irvan's car was sent first into the outside wall and then into the path of Dick Trickle's Heilig-Meyers Ford, which t-boned Irvan's car in the right-rear corner. Irvan said he feels "like I got beat up, pretty much.

"There's nothing else wrong that I can tell. I've just got headaches and I'm sore all over. It hurts to lift my head up ..."

Irvan said the chassis set-up necessary to make a stock car go fast around the circuit's largest tracks, Daytona and Talladega, results in what has been kindly termed a rough ride at best. He said the decision to sit out Thursday was solely his, after he had considered how the car's ride attitude would aggravate his condition.

"I got up this morning and was able to work out -- I thought lifting weights and riding the bike and getting the blood moving would make it better, but it didn't really fix anything.

"If the race this weekend was at Phoenix -- no problem. But at Daytona, with what we have to endure with the shock configuration and what-not, there was no need to try and do this. If we had to set the car up to have a cushy feel -- it wouldn't make the race because it wouldn't be fast enough.

"Right now my body has taken a good beating ... and it's a good idea to sit out tonight, maybe tomorrow and maybe even Saturday. I couldn't put a percentage on how bad I feel or how far off I am, but I do know I don't want to jeopardize my fellow competitors or myself."

Irvan said he had received medical clearance to drive this week from Dr. Kimball Maull at the Carraway Methodist Medical Center in Birmingham, Ala., where he was treated following his accident at Talladega. He was released from Carraway Monday. Irvan said he had received his release but "with my second breath I told Mike Helton (NASCAR vice president for competition) that I probably wouldn't drive."

Irvan said he would ascertain his condition Friday morning and determine whether or not he would take a lap in practice Friday to make him eligible to start the race, which begins at 8 p.m. EDT on Saturday.

"I want to feel capable of doing the job I know I'm capable of doing," Irvan said. "Right now I feel like the best thing to do is probably going to be to take a week off. Ernie Irvan don't have anything to prove to anyone. I'm a very good Winston Cup driver and I've been able to win and lose races."

Irvan said there was no hesitation on his part to participate in a second straight restrictor-plate race, or to adjust his driving style.

"My reflexes are fine," he said. "And about the time you're out there just trying to stay out of trouble you get in trouble. The only way to hide is not to get out there."

And Irvan said that was a decision he would probably make within the next 24 hours.

Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ernie Irvan , Dick Trickle , Sterling Marlin , Ricky Craven , Mike Helton
Teams Hendrick Motorsports