Daytona pre-race notes

DAYTONA 500 PRE-RACE NOTES GODWIN KELLY, Associate Sports Editor and motorsports writer for the Daytona Beach News-Journal, received the prestigious Henry T. McLemore Motorsports Press Award Friday evening at a special awards dinner. The Award...

DAYTONA 500 PRE-RACE NOTES

GODWIN KELLY, Associate Sports Editor and motorsports writer for the Daytona Beach News-Journal, received the prestigious Henry T. McLemore Motorsports Press Award Friday evening at a special awards dinner. The Award is sponsored by Unocal 76. Kelly received a specially-made bronze plaque and a $500 honorarium.

DALE EARNHARDT is the favorite to win the Daytona 500, according to the exclusive Unocal 76 Racing Panel of Experts, a media group. Seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Earnhardt received eight votes, 1993 Daytona 500 winner Dale Jarrett received five and Jeff Gordon and Rusty Wallace received two each. Other drivers receiving a single vote included: Bill Elliott, Todd Bodine, Morgan Shepherd, Terry Labonte, Mark Martin and Michael Waltrip.

TRAVIS TRITT, a country music artist, will serve as an honorary member of Darrell Waltrip's Western Auto Chevrolet pit crew during the Daytona 500.

BROTHER ACT: The 1995 Daytona 500 will set a record for the number of brother combinations competing in the race. Five sets of brothers will start the race: Terry and Bobby Labonte, Darrell and Michael Waltrip, Rusty and Mike Wallace, Ward and Jeff Burton and Geoff, Todd and Brett Bodine. Four sets of brothers started the '93 500.

RANDY LaJOIE (#22* MBNA America Pontiac) -- It's not my first time here, sure, but it IS my first 500. This is a lot better than '84 (when he made his first attempt at DIS, and his to qualify for the Daytona 500). I still get a headache thinking about that one. We've got a good race team, a good sponsor, a good bunch of guys and we're ready for the 500. Oh, man...when you look at the teams that have packed up and gone home, well, I slept very well last night -- finally! There's so much pressure down here to make the 500. It's a different type of qualifying situation. Thankfully, we made it.

We need to get the car driving a little better. It's driving real comfortable around other cars. I'll tell you, I'm really looking forward to next year, when they come out with the '96 Pontiac. I think they can learn a lot and GM can learn a lot with the Monte Carlo this year and we can put that to use on the Grand Prix and maybe have an advantage at this time next year.

Our strategy for Sunday is to finish...to get the car to run good and comfortable, stay out of trouble, and finish. So far, we've got a car that will work well in the draft. It's a little tight, but we think we can get it freed up a little bit so it'll work good up high. It didn't work good up high on Thursday. It worked real good low, but nobody wanted to run with you low. so, we have to get the car to run in the high groove and I think we'll be in pretty good shape.

(On running the whole NASCAR Winston Cup Series for the first time.) I'm enthused about running the whole Series for the first time. It's an opportunity I've been trying to get for six years, now, and finally, I do. I was able to get to a lot of the race tracks last year with the Busch car (Dick Moroso's FinaLube Chevrolet). I've only not been to two race tracks in some type of car, and that's (North) Wilkesboro and Sears Point. So maybe I'll have the advantage over some of these guys by having some experience at the race tracks. But, I'm just glad to be here and hopefully I'll be here for a while.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Darrell Waltrip , Bobby Labonte , Terry Labonte , Rusty Wallace , Michael Waltrip , Todd Bodine , Mike Wallace , Morgan Shepherd , Mark Martin