Daytona schedule and Dave Marcis preview

Practice opens Thursday for the 38th Pepsi 400 with 43 cars entered -- 40 full-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series teams plus No. 44 Jeff Purvis, No. 65 Steve Seligman and No. 95 Gary Bradberry. Practice is scheduled 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Busch Pole ...

Practice opens Thursday for the 38th Pepsi 400 with 43 cars entered -- 40 full-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series teams plus No. 44 Jeff Purvis, No. 65 Steve Seligman and No. 95 Gary Bradberry. Practice is scheduled 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Busch Pole Qualifying to set positions 1-25 is at 2:30 p.m. (two laps). Infield or unreserved grandstand tickets are $12. The Grand Opening Gala for DAYTONA USA is scheduled from 7-10 p.m.

DAYTONA USA's grand opening is at 8 a.m. on Friday. NASCAR Winston Cup practice will be from 9-11:30 a.m. Busch Beer Second-Round Qualifying to set positions 26-38 is at 1 p.m. followed by "Happy Hour" practice. Unreserved grandstand tickets are $6. Infield gates do not open until 6 p.m. Infield admission is $35 per person, $40 infield RV parking and $10 infield car/van parking.

The Pepsi 400 will take the green flag at 11 a.m. on Saturday. Reserved grandstand price range is $35-$70 as of Wednesday evening. Unreserved Tiny Lund (backstretch) Grandstand seats are $35 and are on sale Saturday morning.

To order tickets call (904) 253-RACE (7223). For information call (904) 254-2700.

Marcis Poised to Make Historic 800th Start in Pepsi 400

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 2) -- Dave Marcis, the "working man's race car driver," hopes his lunch pail turns into a loving cup when he makes his 800th career NASCAR Winston Cup Series start on Saturday at 11 a.m. in the Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway. In typical blue collar fashion, Marcis refuses to be overwhelmed by the accomplishment, second only to "King" Richard Petty's unreachable 1,185 starts in a 35-year career that produced a NASCAR Winston Cup record 200 victories. "I relate it to a guy in a factory who goes to work every day, and as the years go by the numbers start to add up. Racing's been that job for me," Marcis, at 55 the oldest driver on NASCAR's top circuit, said. "It's a pretty nice accomplishment, but I never dreamt of anything like this...I was just trying to maintain my livelihood. NASCAR Winston Cup racing was a profession I chose when I was younger. This wasn't a goal but I'm proud to have accomplished it." In 1996 it's tougher for an "independent" -- an owner without a multi-million dollar sponsor -- to consistently make races. Marcis, whose career began in 1968, has failed to qualify three times this season. But Daytona is special to the Wisconsin native, making the timing of his 800th green flag even more appropriate. In '95 he set a record for consecutive Daytona 500 starts with his 28th straight -- breaking Petty's mark. "Those are two records that aren't likely to be broken," Marcis said, referring to his and Petty's longevity marks as well as the consecutive Daytona 500 streak. He went on to give his opinion of why drivers would not be so likely to extend their careers. "It's the money factor," Marcis noted. "When Richard (Petty) and I started we used the money we won to stay in business, buy parts, keep the team going and to make ends meet amd make it to the next event. We didn't have a lot to spare. It's just like our factory worker, who uses everything he makes to live, buy a car, and food -- to pay his bills. With today's big salaries drivers don't have to hang on like we did. If they can put in 10 good years they can afford to retire." In the 1987 "Mid-Summer Classic" Marcis came within three laps of scoring his biggest moment in the last 15 years. "I was going to win -- no one was going to catch me," said Marcis, a proud man who more than any other in a sport dominated by four-wheeled corporate billboards, knows what it means to stretch a dollar. "But a caution came out with five laps left and I wasn't able to hold off (winner) Bobby Allison and Buddy Baker..." A victory in the 38th Pepsi 400 would be a tall order, but Marcis, whose last of five career NASCAR Winston Cup scores came in 1982, knows what it takes. "We've got a beautiful race car with a Richard Childress engine in it and we've put an awful lot of effort into it," he said. "It's tough to compete with the money and the technology in the sport today, but I'll tell you what, I've been thinking about that '87 race a lot. "We had a fast car and a dominant car. It was a real good day for us because the car handled good. They (competition) couldn't go a full fuel run without stopping to get new tires. We could do 100 miles plus on fuel and our car handled real well. "We were leading for quite some time (14 laps of 23 total he led) when Rick Wilson got in the wall with five laps remaining. I was leaving the trioval and the others weren't even entering it. There's no way they were going to catch me. "I was drafting on Bobby Allison and me and everyone else assumed Bobby was down a lap. I should've passed him before that but I was using him to draft. Under caution he got tires and him and Buddy Baker jumped the gun on the restart because we didn't control them as well and limit passing like they do now. "They came up and were right on me and Kenny Schrader, who was a newcomer and didn't understand the draft, went to racing me and that cost us. "Anyway, Saturday'll be another day at the office, so I hope I can make it in. It's Fourth of July weekend and that means a lot, and I'm a big Pepsi man anyhow." Reserved seat tickets remain to see if Marcis can create another niche in the NASCAR record book by becoming only the second driver to make 800 starts. For information and seat selection call (904) 253-RACE (7223). Practice and Busch Pole Qualifying for the Pepsi 400 will be held Thursday. Tickets are $12. Additional practice and second- round qualifying will be held Friday. Tickets are $6.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Purvis , Dave Marcis , Gary Bradberry , Bobby Allison , Buddy Baker