Daytona Morgan-Mclure Preview

Morgan-McClure Motorsports hopes to add another mark at Daytona Morgan-McClure Motorsports leads all NASCAR Winston Cup teams with nine victories in points races in the 1990s at restrictor-plate tracks. And as the circuit heads to ...

Morgan-McClure Motorsports hopes to add another mark at Daytona

Morgan-McClure Motorsports leads all NASCAR Winston Cup teams with nine victories in points races in the 1990s at restrictor-plate tracks. And as the circuit heads to Daytona International Speedway for Saturday night's Pepsi 400, the No. 4 Kodak MAX Film Monte Carlo will be gunning for another record. The Kodak team has gone home to Abingdon, Va., with at least one win at Daytona in five of the past nine seasons. Driver Bobby Hamilton will try to make it six of 10 under the lights Saturday night at the 2.5-mile tri-oval. Team owner Larry McClure would like nothing more than to take home another trophy from Daytona to add to the collection already in the Morgan-McClure Motorsports Museum. "We had a handle on everything at Daytona for years," McClure said. "We've gone back and tried to critique everything we've been doing. When we go down there, I think our effort will be a lot better, and I think we'll be a lot better the second half of the season. "We've got a lot of new cars. We took a lot of bodies off trying to prepare for the 2000 Monte Carlo. Then we didn't get it. We've got a lot of new cars we're going to be running the second half of the season. I think we're going to be ready for it." The Pepsi 400 will be race No. 17 of 34 in 1999, and the second under the lights in July at Daytona. Jeff Gordon won last year's inaugural race at night in October after the race was postponed for three months when forest fires ravaged the Daytona Beach area the week of July 4th. "I don't think racing at night in July will be a lot different than it was in October, but we'll just have to wait and see," McClure said. "The night races are real attractive for fans, but it makes long days for us. The night races are always like that, but it gives us Sundays to fall back on for a rain date and maybe a day we can spend with our families. "We always look forward to going to Daytona, even if we had to race 24 hours. The cars are mostly bulletproof anymore. You're racing so close and you're racing wide open, and I think you see them running a little harder at night than you do during the day because it doesn't get as slick and they don't have to get out of the gas. The car that handles the best is going to have the best opportunity to win." Hamilton will drive the same Chevy he races in the Daytona 500 in February and the DieHard 500 in April at Talladega. Caught up in accidents in both of those events, the Kodak team has virtually rebuilt the Monte Carlo for the Pepsi 400. "The only thing that was left was the center roll cage," McClure said. "We've been aggressive trying to work on the aerodynamics so we can qualify better. We know our engines are better, so we're looking forward to it. "We're just trying to be smart with what we're doing. Gary DeHart (race team coordinator) is bringing along our chassis program. We're having to watch everything we do. Aerodynamics are so important at the downforce race tracks, and somebody's got to keep their hand on that. Gary has been doing that. Going to Daytona, I'd like to think we've done everything we can possibly do to ensure we're going to be back to our old form. "Bobby's got some good tracks coming up here, and we're just trying to build up confidence. If we can get that done and build a little momentum, I think we're going to end up in the top 10 in the points. That's our first goal and top five would be our second goal. "I think the team at the race track has done an excellent job. I think the pit crew is probably 200 percent better than it's ever been. That's been a weak point for us for 14 years. "We can click off some quick pit stops now and keep ourselves in contention and not put Bobby back every time he comes in the pits. We're looking forward to pit stops now instead of holding our breath. "We were as good in the pits as we'd ever been at Pocono, and I think you're going to see the boys just keep stepping up. They've been practicing hard, and they're paying attention to all the details. We knew we were getting our butts kicked on pit road. This is the first year we've had our whole pit crew working at our facility, so they can practice. That's made a lot of difference. "We won't ever let down. Our guys are motivated. They're behind Bobby, and they're behind me. They work hard, and we're confident that's going to pay off real soon." In other news regarding the No. 4 Kodak team, Morgan McClure Motorsports has scheduled an open house on July 17 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at the team's state-of-the-art race shop in Abingdon, Va. Kodak MAX Film Chevrolet Racing Team driver Bobby Hamilton will be signing autographs from 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m. A fee of $1 per person at the gate will be donated to local police and fire departments. Children under 12 will be admitted free, and free food will be available while supplies last. Team owner Larry McClure and members of the Kodak Racing Team will be on hand to greet visitors. The Morgan-McClure Motorsports Museum is located adjacent to the race shop and will be open to the public. Take exit 22 off Interstate 81 to the shop.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Bobby Hamilton