Sears Point: Dave Marcis to put older driver in his car

DAVE MARCIS (No. 71 Realtree Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Marcis, a 59-year-old NASCAR veteran from Wausau, Wisc., started 43rd and finished 29th in Monday’s rain-delayed Pocono 500. It was Marcis’ second straight 29th-place finish. He also...

DAVE MARCIS (No. 71 Realtree Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Marcis, a 59-year-old NASCAR veteran from Wausau, Wisc., started 43rd and finished 29th in Monday’s rain-delayed Pocono 500. It was Marcis’ second straight 29th-place finish. He also started 43rd and finished 29th at Dover and failed to qualify the next week at Michigan. Marcis was injured in a racing accident last year at Pocono and did not attempt to qualify at Sears Point. Instead, he put road racer R.K. Smith in his Realtree Monte Carlo. Smith, 62, is a Warren, Pa., native who’s been living in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., since 1973. He won the SCCA World Challenge Championship driving a Corvette in 1990 and 1992. Smith didn’t qualify for last year’s Sears Point road race, but Marcis has decided to give him another shot behind the wheel of the No. 71 Realtree Monte Carlo this weekend. Marcis talks about his decision to put Smith in the car, his season and ideas for changes in NASCAR.

“It’s going to be tough getting to Sears Point, but if some of the trucks don’t get there until a little later because we had to run at Pocono on Monday, then NASCAR will work something out,” Marcis said. “We’ll make it. It makes it damn tough. It’s pretty tough getting out there anyway the way the schedule is. You go from the east coast to the west coast to as far south as you can go to as far to the northeast as you can go. It’s damn tough. None of the competitors seem to know why NASCAR does that. Maybe they just want to keep us all tired and worn out so we don’t cause too much trouble or get too much energy. “I’ve got another person lined up to help our truck driver. I was supposed to test IROC cars on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in Indianapolis. I’ll fly to Asheville, N.C., on Wednesday and fly to California on Thursday. I’m putting R.K. Smith in my car out in California. I’m putting a road course guy in the car. He didn’t make the race for me out there last year. He broke a gear while he was qualifying in the second round, and we didn’t make the show.” “We try to travel as light as we can and keep costs down. It’s going to cost a minimum of $10,000, motels, travel fares, fuel and food (to make the California trip). We’re in NASCAR racing to run every race, and we’re going to be at ‘em. That’s our commitment when the season started. That’s the commitment we made to all our sponsors, and we’re going to be there. “R.K.’s cup of tea is road racing. I used to be a pretty good road racer. That was before everybody tested there and had special cars. Everybody goes to driver’s schools, and I don’t get to do that anymore. I’ve gotten behind on some of my road racing experience. R.K. is a road racer. He knows that particular course. I think I have a better chance of getting the car qualified with him in it. I think I’ll let him race it if he qualifies it as long as he’s doing good in practice. That’s what we’re going there for. “I actually met R.K. several years ago when I worked for Roger Penske driving the Matador back in the early 70s. R.K. came to several races, and he even helped us in the pits when I drove for Harry Hyde. He’s actually the guy responsible for me winning the 125-miler in Daytona Beach, Fla., in ‘76. I broke a shifting lever, and we came down and made our final pit stop. I couldn’t get the car going. I hollered out the window for someone to throw me a 9/16 wrench. Nobody heard me. I was trying to get the car going and slipping the clutch to get it going. He heard me holler and jumped back over the wall, grabbed a 9/16 wrench and stuck it in the window. I had already torn the rubber boot loose on the floor. I stuck it down in that hole and got the car up in third gear. I got going, but we were almost a lap behind. I ended up catching Buddy Baker with a lap to go and passed him on the back straightaway going into turn three. I ended up winning the race. “We took the car the other day and went down to Carolina Motorsports in Kershaw, S.C. We shook the car down and let him get used to shifting and bent some brake pads in. Other teams were down there testing, and R.K. did real good. I think he ran as good as any of the other guys ran. “I’ll be down in the pits working with my guys trying to help them stay organized. Maybe I can help make some pit strategy calls and hope that will help our whole situation. Road racing is all right, but it’s quite costly for Winston Cup teams to have two cars and probably in a lot of cases three cars and a lot of special transmissions. It’s probably not the best deal for Winston Cup, especially as time demanding as our sport is becoming to run the ovals and stuff. It’s nice to go do it, and it used to be a lot of fun to break the monotony of just doing the ovals, but with the schedule we’ve got now it makes it pretty tough, and it’s also very costly. Probably Winston Cup would be better off without it. “It’ll be tough to break even (California trip). I made a commitment to people, and I’m going to honor my commitment. That’s what I’ve always done. That’s what I’ve got to do some way, somehow. Pocono was my fifth race of the year, and it’s been tough. It helps to be in the races, but we just seem to have a qualifying problem. I think it’s in aerodynamics. I haven’t seemed to be able to work it out. I look at other people’s cars, and I try to copy this and copy that, but I haven’t hit it yet. We were pretty good at Dover in the race, but we didn’t get qualified for it, so we still had a problem. At Talladega, we qualified good, and I’m hoping we can when we go back to Daytona, but I also know that a lot of teams are building brand new cars for Daytona, so this aerodynamic thing is really becoming a problem for small teams. Guys who aren’t with bigger teams that have aerodynamic engineers and can’t spend a lot of time in the wind tunnels are behind. “We will not have a provisional for Sears Point. I have plenty of provisionals, but with where I’m at in the point standings, again I don’t like the present system. That’s another reason for my thinking along the reasons I am of putting R.K. in the car. We are going to have to qualify in the top 36. If you’re in the top 25 in points you don’t get charged with using a provisional. If you use one, you should get charged for it no matter where you are in the points. The 97 car has already used eight provisionals. They don’t even work on qualifying setups anymore. They work on race setups so they can run good and finish good and stay in the top 25 in points. “We need to look at the provisional system and look at these purses closer and bring that stuff up. Charlotte is like the worst paying track on the circuit as far as starting money. Dover is a 400-mile race and paid $8,000 more just to start the race than Charlotte. It’s 200 miles less. The tracks have stepped up and got a lot better, but even Martinsville paid more than Charlotte last year to start. Michigan’s purse wasn’t very good, either. “The difference between the big teams and the little teams is that the little teams pay attention to the purses. Most big car teams couldn’t tell you what it pays to start. If you go to smaller teams, I’ll guarantee you they can all tell you. I think if you picked up eight positions or something like that at Charlotte, you made a hundred bucks. It’s not right, some of it. “I’d like to see some changes in qualifying, too. If you’re going to have two rounds of qualifying, you do the top 25 the first day and the second day everyone requalifies regardless of where we’re at. That way everybody is on equal ground. Those top 25 guys have earned the right to be out there Saturday morning practicing their race setups. The other guys are going to have to keep working on qualifying stuff. That would make it equal and fair as you can possibly get it. I don’t really know why they don’t look at doing that. My contention is they always want a level playing field. That certainly would be one way of doing it. It’s the way it needs to be done for fairness. “I will give NASCAR a pat on the back. Everywhere we’ve ever been, if we have rain problems, they fight and dig and do everything possible to get the race in. They’ve got to be commended for that. It’s good for the audience, too. People who are leery about coming because of the weather, they know if they come they’ll get a 100 percent effort on NASCAR’s part to get the race in.”

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dave Marcis , Roger Penske , Buddy Baker