Wallace Feels Pepsi 400 Win is Possible Despite History DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 28) -- Rusty Wallace, who has been the scourge of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series over the past four years, says he can defy history and win the Pepsi 400...
Wallace Feels Pepsi 400 Win is Possible Despite History
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 28) -- Rusty Wallace, who has been the scourge of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series over the past four years, says he can defy history and win the Pepsi 400 July 6 at Daytona International Speedway. "I know I've got enough power, I know I've got enough car and I think I'm a good enough driver," said Wallace, who has won three times this season and is coming to Daytona riding the momentum of a victory at Michigan International Speedway. Wallace has won 23 times since 1993 -- more than seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion Dale Earnhardt (17) and more than defending race and series titlist Jeff Gordon (14). In fact, only five other drivers: Mark Martin (11), Terry Labonte (7), Ernie Irvan (6), Sterling Marlin (5) and Dale Jarrett (5) have logged five or more victories in that period, underscoring Wallace's dominance. But his Daytona record in that same stretch has been disappointing. His best finish in seven races is 16th -- in the '96 Daytona 500 -- and his average finishing position is 27.7. He has failed to lead so much as one lap in those races while drivers who he toys with at other venues have scored prestigious victories. In three straight Daytona 500s he was involved in grinding crashes. Wallace's best career finish at Daytona's 2.5-mile trioval is only seventh, twice, in 26 starts. The 39-year-old veteran's best in 12 Pepsi 400 runs is eighth. But that less than stellar record doesn't shake the indomitable Missouri native. "You can't say 'I just want to get out of here,'" Wallace said of his upcoming trip to the "World Center of Racing." "I've got to go there thinking I'm going to win -- and that's exactly what me and the team do." Wallace said his superspeedway program turned a corner in February, even though he had to rely on a provisional starting spot to make the Daytona 500, and he led 16 laps at the Winston Select 500 at Talladega in April. But there's room to improve. "My son Greg says he's got the answer to all the bad luck we've had," Wallace said with a chuckle. "He said we just need to qualify better and get in front of all of that junk (accidents). "Dale (Earnhardt) qualifies bad and goes to the front and so do I, because I don't like to spend a lot of time on qualifying set-ups. The Hendrick cars (Gordon, Labonte and Ken Schrader) qualify good and can stay up there and we've got to work on that." His first opportunity will come when practice for the Pepsi 400 opens at 10:30 a.m. July 4. Busch Pole Award Qualifying, which will set positions 1-25, will be at 2:30 p.m. Additional practice is scheduled July 5 with Busch Beer Second-Round Qualifying scheduled at 1 p.m. followed by the final "Happy Hour" practice. Wallace sees the Pepsi 400, set for a green flag at 11 a.m. July 6, as a critical jumping-off point for what he hopes will be a strong second half to the season. "We can definitely reach 10 wins this season," said Wallace, alluding to his previous high-water mark, in 1993. "We've had strong cars all season long and circumstances have just kept us from winning." Coming to Daytona, Wallace is solidly inside the top 10 in NASCAR Winston Cup points, and if his performance a year ago is any indication, his competitors better watch Wallace in the second half of the season. In '95 he had five top-five finishes coming into the Pepsi 400 and he scored 10 in the second half of the year, including a phenomenal string of eight top-three finishes in the last 13 races. Reserved seats are available. For information and seat selection call the Daytona International Speedway Ticket Office at (904) 253-RACE (7223).
Former Winner Greg Sacks is Back in Action for Pepsi 400
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 1) -- Former Pepsi 400 winner Greg Sacks will return to the NASCAR Winston Cup Series in a fill-in role for the second straight year at the "Mid-Summer Classic" at Daytona International Speedway July 6 at 11 a.m. "There's no better place in my book to kick it off," said Sacks of his race-to-race deal in the Cartoon Network Chevrolet owned by Gary and Carolyn Bechtel. "Being a past winner and a polesitter I almost feel like Daytona is my home track. I know the feel that I need in the race car and I'm confident that Bill (Ingle, team manager/crew chief) and I can work together to get in contention, and if we can, the wins will come." Pepsi 400 highlights are two of the biggest moments on the Mattituck, N.Y., driver's resume. Sacks posted one of the biggest upsets in NASCAR Winston Cup history when he defeated Daytona 500 winner Bill Elliott in the 1985 Pepsi 400 driving an unsponsored car serviced by a thrown-together pit crew in the team's first race. Sacks won the Busch Pole Award for the 1990 Pepsi 400 driving for Rick Hendrick. He was sixth in the 1985 Daytona 500 in a family-owned, unsponsored car. "There's no pressure for me," said Sacks of his race-to-race deal. "This is a great opportunity to show my abilities with a great team and car. I've raced with Hendrick Motorsports engines before (in 1990) and I know what their capabilities are. I had three seconds with Hendrick but I'd like to do it one better and get back in victory circle. "The potential is there to make something exciting happen right out of the box. I've been involved in situations like this in the past and have been able to come out of the box strong. The team desire is there, I know that. The chemistry and the jelling of the team just didn't seem to happen. I don't think it's a reflection on either (previous driver) Steve's (Grissom) or the team's ability -- it just didn't come together." In the 1995 Pepsi 400, Sacks filled in for regular driver Elton Sawyer in the No. 27 Hooters Ford and finished 17th. It was one of 20 races Sacks ran in '95 for four teams. Sacks has subbed in two races this season for an injured Robert Pressley. Pepsi 400 reserved seats are available. For information and seat selection call the Daytona International Speedway Ticket Office at (904) 253-RACE (7223). SACKS NOTES: "I'm totally involved with the Miami Speed Racing School," said the chief instructor for the program located at the new Homestead Motorsports Complex. "They have just completed repaving the track and the school will reopen Aug. 10. I had an exciting three months from January through March and we were pretty busy. I've got a good bunch of instructors and I'm doing all the advanced instruction. One of the most satisfying deals we've had, early-on, was with (former SCCA E-Production national champion) Terry McCarthy. On his second day we did a 20- lap run in separate cars and he was right on Busch Series race pace. Then (at the season-opening NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race) he qualified 27th and finished sixth in his first race. We offer everything from passenger rides to advanced courses and from three-hour introductory sessions to one-, two- and three-day advanced programs. For information people can call 800-200-8412."
Pepsi 400 Posts Record-Breaking $1.6 Million Purse
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 1) -- Competitors in Saturday's 38th Pepsi 400 at 11 a.m. at Daytona International Speedway will be racing for a record $1,607,769 in posted awards in the traditional NASCAR Winston Cup Series "Mid-Summer Classic." The 400-mile, 160-lap mid-season event is the 15th in the 31-race series. The record amount rose with the addition of $145,200 from two bonus programs. The NASCAR Winston Cup Series leader bonus, which is available to the winner of every Series event if he is also the point leader following the race, is at $130,000 for the Pepsi 400. The top three drivers in the point standings, two-time Pepsi 400 winner Dale Earnhardt, Terry Labonte and defending Pepsi 400 champion Jeff Gordon, are the only drivers with a shot at claiming the bonus. Labonte trails Earnhardt by 15 points with Gordon trailing the seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion by 47. Earnhardt was the point leader when he won the 1993 Pepsi 400 while Gordon left Daytona only seven points out of the lead a year ago. The Unocal 76 Challenge, which is available to the winner of the Busch Pole Award for each NASCAR Winston Cup Series race if he is also able to win the event, is at $15,200 for the Pepsi 400. Cale Yarborough was the last driver to win the Pepsi 400 from the pole, in 1981. Practice for the Pepsi 400 opens Thursday with Busch Pole Award Qualifying to set positions 1-25 at 2:30 p.m. Forty-three cars have filed entries for the event. Additional practice will be held Friday with Busch Beer Second-Round Qualifying to set positions 26-38 and up to five provisional starters at 1 p.m. followed by the final "Happy Hour" practice. Reserved seats for the Pepsi 400 are available. For information and seat selection call the Daytona International Speedway Ticket Office at (904) 253-RACE (7223).