NASCAR 2000 -- A to Z By Brett Borden and Marty Smith DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 1, 2000) A is for Andretti, as in John. Like his car owner (Richard Petty), his name is synonymous with racing. Here lately it has been associated with bad ...
NASCAR 2000 -- A to Z By Brett Borden and Marty Smith
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 1, 2000)
A is for Andretti, as in John. Like his car owner (Richard Petty), his name is synonymous with racing. Here lately it has been associated with bad luck. They hope to bump that perception into the wall this year.
B is for Burton, as in Jeff. The 32-year-old Virginian had a career year in 1999, sort of. He won six races, one more than he had racked up in his previous 155 starts. But the man who finished fourth in the 1997 point standings found himself fifth at the finish for a second straight year.
C is for Cal Wells, NASCAR's newest entrepeneur. He is starting to collect coveted sponsors like fans collect diecast collectibles. His success on the track, as well as that of A.J. Foyt's, will no doubt we watched closely by other IRL and CART owners.
D is for DW, who will conclude a legendary 28-year NASCAR Winston Cup Series career following the 2000 campaign. He has traded paint with Earnhardts, Pettys, Allisons, Bodines and Wallaces, to name a few. Next year he'll trade in his helmet for a microphone, but not until he gives it one more go-round.
E is for Elliott, as in Bill. Like Waltrip, Elliott is no stranger to success on stock car racing's highest level. And stranger things have happened than Awesome Bill from Dawsonville getting another victory.
F is for Forty, the number of wins Jeff Gordon has racked up the past four years, which averages out to a neat and tidy 10 wins per year. At his current pace, he will enter SpeedWeeks in the year 2015 needing one win to tie Richard Petty's 200 victory mark.
G is for Geoffrey, not Geoff. Once again, the 50-year-old veteran will lead the Brothers Bodine around the NASCAR Winston Cup Series circuit. Middle brother Brett will run full-time again, while youngest of the litter, Todd, will run a part-time schedule for another year.
H is for Horsepower, but also for Handling. A lack of either one, and your team might be hitting the highway out of town.
I is for Intimidator. 'Nuff said.
J is for Jarrett, as in Dale. The son of a two-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion is now halfway to matching his father Ned's trophy collection, at least in championships. He needs three more checkered flags to get halfway to Pop's mark of 50 career victories.
K is for Kenny, as in Irwin and Wallace. Two young drivers who have had their fair share of tough luck. Like Steve Park, Mike Skinner, and many other young drivers, they are looking for that first victory to push them over the hump and into the next level of the competitive stratosphere.
L is for Labonte, as in Bobby. The little brother of two-time champ Terry could make car owner Joe Gibbs a champion in America's two favorite sports.
M is for Martin, and also for Mark. Bad back? Please. Martin will be back to attempt his 12th straight finish of sixth or higher in the standings. The next best in that category is Gordon at five years.
N is for NASCAR Racers, the new-age, interactive racing cartoon on FOX. Saturday mornings will serve as a primer for young race fans for Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons.
O is for Open Wheel. Racing's talent pool has always been split between those that prefer windshields and those who don't. Due to calmer waters, most have started swimming for the stock car side of that pool.
P is for Pegasus. The winged wonder on the No. 12 Mobil One Ford flew proudly in 1998, as driver Jeremy Mayfield had such a sensational start it seemed almost like it came from Greek mythology. But the past year and a half Mayfield has come back down to Earth.
Q is for qualifying. For the top teams, this is a footnote. For the teams farther down the standings, it can represent a foothold for a spot in a race they otherwise would be watching like the rest of us.
R is for Rusty, the most singularly recognizable first name in NASCAR. There are Dales and Jeffs, but there is only one Rusty. Rusty needs only one more victory to reach 50 for his career. He now holds the longest active streak of years with at least one victory -- 14 -- but the past three seasons he has extended that streak with one win only.
S is for shocks, the topic d'jour in the Daytona garage area this season. It was designed to keep costs in line and lower speeds, and the buzz around the garage has been positive. No shock there.
T is for Texas Terry. The older Labonte brother might be hunting for the perfect moment to pay back Dale Earnhardt after their last lap theatrics at Bristol last year. The fans will be watching.
U is for Unveiling. Daytona will provide the stage for several new paint schemes this season. Ask any marketer, packaging is important.
V is for Victory Lane, the most coveted real estate in racing. The difference between heartwarming story and heartbreak? Location, location, location.
W is for Ward (aka Waaaarrrrd). The elder Burton beat his brother Jeff to Victory Lane by two years, but has not found his way back as of yet. He did earn his first top-10 finish in the points in 1999, so perhaps that second win is around the next turn.
X is for Generation X. A lot has been made of the open wheel influx of talent, but there is another invasion coming in, one of youth. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Matt Kenseth are NASCAR's rendition of the Beatles and Rolling Stones, but names like Casey Atwood and Adam Petty are coming right behind them.
Y is for Yates, as in Robert. The car owner in Jarrett's corner has found what he hopes will be an effective tag teammate for his champion in Ricky Rudd. Perhaps Jarrett can tag in Rudd as the next champion, and Yates can keep his seat at the postseason banquet.
Z is for Zipadelli, as in Greg. He's the unsung hero behind last year's amazing run by Raybestos Rookie of the Year Tony Stewart. Stewart has a lot of talent, but without having a crew chief on the same page, his storybook rookie season might have looked a lot more like Robby Gordon than Jeff Gordon.