Ford drivers commment on moving the 500

Now that NASCAR has instituted a new procedure for determining the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion, would it be appropriate to move the Daytona 500 to the end of the season? That was the question posed to a number of drivers earlier in the ...

Now that NASCAR has instituted a new procedure for determining the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion, would it be appropriate to move the Daytona 500 to the end of the season? That was the question posed to a number of drivers earlier in the week.

JEFF BURTON - No. 99 TNT Taurus

DO YOU THINK THE DAYTONA 500 IS NOW THE 11TH MOST IMPORTANT RACE OF THE YEAR? "The Daytona 500 has always paid the same amount of points as every other race, but that doesn't make it the same as every other race. From a statistical standpoint, winning the Daytona 500 doesn't guarantee you success for the rest of the year. It's a separate entity all on its own. By the way, ask Dale Earnhardt, losing the Daytona 500 doesn't mean you can't have a successful career either. So this still is the biggest race of the year. This still is the Daytona 500, but it is also one of the first 26 - so it's both."

SINCE IT'S OUR SUPER BOWL SHOULD IT BE MOVED TO THE END OF THE YEAR? "I think in the old format there was legitimate call for that. I think that having the biggest race of the year as the first race of the year never made sense to me because every other sport there biggest event of the year is their last event. Look how many people watched the Super Bowl. I mean, my wife watched the Super Bowl (laughing). In today's format, it's my opinion that the Daytona 500 is still the biggest race of the year because it's the Daytona 500, but it may not be the most important race of the year. Now we have a system that may make the last race of the year the most important race of the year. That doesn't mean it's the biggest, it means it may be the most important and that's why the system is correct. We just went through last weekend why having the opportunity for the best teams to be duking it out in the last game of the year, that exposes the reason why the new system is right. How many people watched the Super Bowl? If that system was based on points and the Panthers, based on the number of wins they had versus the number of wins the New England Patriots had, New England would have had 89 points when the game started and Carolina would have had zero. Nobody would have watched. It was zero-zero. People tuned in and they showed up and that's what the new system is all about. I'm a huge proponent of the system. I think the Daytona 500 is still the biggest but it may not be the most important."

SO DO YOU THINK IT SHOULD BE MOVED? "I'm saying no. One of the things that football and baseball don't do well is you have that preseason junk. Who goes to preseason? Not many people watch preseason and then you go from preseason into games that count. It's like it's no real big deal. With our deal it's like, boom, it's in your face. It's the Daytona 500 and it's in your face right off the bat. I think that has an appealing factor."

MATT KENSETH - No. 17 DEWALT Tools Taurus

WHAT WOULD YOU THINK ABOUT ENDING THE SEASON HERE AT DAYTONA? "I don't know. If this point system takes hold and they keep it and use it for years to come, I could see the schedule changing. I don't know what they're gonna do. I don't have anymore idea than you guys with what they're gonna do as far as schedules and rules and point systems and stuff. Really, I have no idea but I could see it happening. If the 10-race deal takes hold, I could see the schedule being realigned around those last 10 races and making sure that there's a Daytona in there and maybe some of their other premier tracks in that last 10. It would be kind of cool to start at Daytona and end at Daytona - being the headquarters for NASCAR and everything, I could see that happening some day if that 10-race deal works out."

ELLIOTT SADLER - No. 38 M&M's Taurus

WITH THE NEW SYSTEM, DO YOU THINK DAYTONA SHOULD BE THE LAST RACE? "That's a good point. Now that we've changed the scoring system maybe move Daytona to the last race of the season. That's good, but I still think this is the best way to kick off our season. This is such an important race and there's so much team effort and strategy and everything goes into this race. I can't see kicking off the season with a better race track to start with than this one. If you put it at the beginning and the end, that might be something to look forward to, but I don't think we should ever change this from being the first race. Maybe changing the July race to come back here in November and end it all with Daytona would be pretty neat, but I don't think we need to take away anything from this first race. This has always been a great start to the season. I think the fans like it. I think the media likes it. I think the drivers like it, so I think we ought to keep this one just where it is."

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT DAYTONA? "It's just a great race. You know if you win this race, you have beaten every team in their best possible stuff they have at the shop. There's no 'we're saving this car for next week or next year.' When you win this race, you're beating the best there is - the best pit crews, the best strategy, the best cars, the best motors. We bring everything we've got in the shop. We come loaded for bear when we come to this race, so I think that's why this race is so special. They haven't changed any of the rules for it. They really try to take care of everybody and try to get all of the aspects covered in this race to make it a lot of fun."

DO YOU THINK THIS WILL ALWAYS BE THE BIG RACE EVEN WITH THE POINTS CHANGE? "Yeah, because it's 10 races at the end and not one. I think this is always gonna be the big race no matter what type of point system you use. Everybody's got cabin fever this whole winter, so why not come out with a bang here at Daytona. I kind of think that's everybody's attitude."

WHAT'S THE FIRST THING THAT POPS IN YOU MIND ABOUT DAYTONA? "You just want to win it. It makes people's careers when you win this race. It's almost like a lifesaver. If you can win this thing, it does so many different things for you, your confidence, your career, your team, your sponsors. There are just so many people it can affect by winning this race, so it's something that means a lot to everybody and I think that's why so much effort is put into it."

DALE JARRETT - No. 88 UPS Taurus

WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE THE SEASON END HERE AT DAYTONA? "I don't know that that would be a bad idea. I don't know that I've ever given it much thought, but I don't know that that would be totally wrong to have it begin and end here at Daytona. That would be pretty exciting to have a restrictor plate race here at Daytona to decide the championship. I think that's something that could possibly be discussed and get a lot of accolades as far as from the drivers and the teams."

WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE THE DAYTONA 500 MOVED TO THE LAST RACE? "Wow, that's a big question. My first reaction would be, 'No, don't move the Daytona 500 because it is our biggest race.' What you do there is you take your biggest race and put it in competition with your season-ending championship. Not that the Daytona 500 would ever lose much of its luster, but I still think we should begin our season with the Daytona 500 and lets end with the 400."

WOULD YOU DISPUTE THE DAYTONA 500 BEING THE 11TH MOST IMPORTANT RACE THIS YEAR? "I would dispute that, especially at this point in time because it's still the biggest race. I say that because of the history of it and we have the most time to prepare for this. I think when you look at single-event races, there is nothing bigger and won't ever be. Those 10 are certainly gonna be important at the end of the year, but you have to do well and need to do well in this Daytona 500. There are gonna be people that are looking at the Daytona 500 that say, 'OK, if we can win that race or perform well there, then if we happen not to get in that top 10 we've been somewhat successful anyway.'"

-ford racing-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt