Daytona Tauruses get mediocre reviews

Tauruses get mediocre reviews at Daytona Shawn A. Akers - NASCAR Online DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 7, 1998) If Bud Pole qualifying for the Daytona 500 is any indication, the Ford teams could be in for a long, excruciating week at Daytona...

Tauruses get mediocre reviews at Daytona

Shawn A. Akers - NASCAR Online

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 7, 1998) If Bud Pole qualifying for the Daytona 500 is any indication, the Ford teams could be in for a long, excruciating week at Daytona International Speedway.

Only five of the top 15 qualifiers Saturday afternoon drove Tauruses, leaving the For drivers scratching their heads about their new make of automobile at the beginning of the 1998 season.

Rusty Wallace and Lake Speed were the only Taurus drivers to crack the top-10 Saturday. Wallace went from 16th-fastest to seventh-fastest from his first lap to his second, finishing with a fast lap of 190.444 in the No. 2 Miller Lite Taurus. Speed, the fastest overall during Saturday morning practice, turned in the 10th-fastest qualifying lap of the day, 190.062 mph.

Wallace was a minority among Ford drivers Saturday, expressing satisfaction about his qualifying run.

"I feel good to have the best Taurus in the field, for now," Wallace said. "We've got a lot of work developed in that car. We'll just have to go a little farther. We'll work harder on the engines. We'll worker harder on the bodies, but the guys have done a miraculous job with all the work they had to do.

"I like the Taurus and I think it's going to be a great car. It feels pretty good. I'd like to be a little quicker, but that's all we could do. We'll keep working on it."

Considering his morning practice speed of 190.650 mph, Speed was discouraged by the qualifying effort of the No. 9 Cartoon Network Taurus.

"I don't know what the rest of the guys (Ford drivers) are saying, but we're a little disappointed," Speed said. "We really thought the car was going to run a little faster than what we'd run in practice, not slower. I don't know if it was the weather conditions, the wind, whatever is was.

"We'll just take what we've got now, and go race. We've been in the top 10 in every session, and I still hope and pray to the good Lord that we still wind up in the top 10 when this thing's over with, too. We'll just have to wait and see."

Bobby and Terry Labonte became the first brother duo to finish 1-2 in Daytona 500 qualifying. Bobby, driving a Pontiac, won the Bud Pole Award with a speed of 192.415 mph. Terry, in a Chevrolet, was second with a lap of 192.127 mph.

Three Chevrolets qualified in the top-five and four in the top-10. Three Pontiacs qualified in the top-10.

The biggest surprise among the Fords came from the Robert Yates camp and rookie Kenny Irwin. The fastest overall in January testing at Daytona, Irwin turned in a qualifying lap of 187.911 in the No. 28 Texaco/Havoline Taurus, good enough for only 36th fastest.

"It's a little disappointing, really," said Irwin, one of the leading candidates for Rookie of the Year. "We tested down here a lot faster than that in winter testing and when we got down here, we just didn't have it. We've been struggling the last couple of days trying to find out where it's at, but right now, we don't know."

Ricky Rudd's No. 10 Tide team is another that has struggled immensely since arriving in Daytona. Rudd qualified 47th-fastest on Saturday with a lap of 185.559, well off the pole-setting pace of Labonte.

"It's pretty pitiful. I'm not going to sit here and make a lot of excuses," Rudd said. "We're just a little bit puzzled. We came here and tested very well. We ran well in the 189 and 188 bracket. When we tested we were one of the better Tauruses, but we've come back in not too good a shape, but we've got a lot of work to do. I know it's something in the car we can fix, we just need to figure out what it is."

About the only Taurus driver that was encouraged by what he saw from qualifying was Mark Martin, who has been more guarded than most about the new car since unloading earlier this week.

Martin, who'll start the Bud Shootout Sunday from the pole position, wound up 28th-fastest in Bud Pole qualifying Saturday, but was more than satisfied with his fast lap of 188.857 mph.

"I'm in shock," Martin said following his qualifying effort. "This is the biggest surprise we've had this week. I really don't know how we ran that fast. I thought that we were going to be 40th or something like that, to be honest with you. That wasn't all that bad, really."

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1998 NASCAR REB-CO Northwest Tour


March 28 Evergreen Speedway Monroe, WA .646 100L

April 10 Portland Speedway Portland,OR 1/2 125L 18 Yakima Speedway Yakima,WA 1/2 125L

May 16 Wenatchee Valley Raceway E. Wenatchee,WA 1/4 125L 30 South Sound Speedway Tenino,WA 3/8 125L

June 6 Tri-City Raceway W. Richland,WA 1/2 125L 20 Portland Int'l Raceway Portland,OR 1.934RC 100M 27 *Sears Point Raceway Sonoma, CA 2.52RC 200k

July 4 Douglas County Speedway, Roseburg, Ore. 3/8 150L 18 Evergreen Speedway Monroe,WA .646 250L 24 Portland Speedway Portland,OR 1/2 125L

Aug 1 Yakima Speedway Yakima,WA 1/2 125L 8 Raceway Park, Kalispell, Mont. 3/8 ?L 22 Wenatchee Valley Raceway E. Wenatchee,WA 1/4 125L 29 South Sound Speedway Tenino,WA 3/8 125L

Sept 6 Tri-City Raceway W. Richland,WA 1/2 150L 19 Magic Valley Speedway Twin Falls,ID 1/3 125L

* Invitational Event - Non-Points Race


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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Terry Labonte , Rusty Wallace , Robert Yates , Mark Martin