Report from Motorsport News International NASCAR Public Relations Change comes to Winston 500 TALLADEGA, Ala. (May 6, 1997) When an event such as the Winston 500 at Talladega Superspeedway is postponed, change is inevitable. Infield ...
Report from Motorsport News International
NASCAR Public Relations
Change comes to Winston 500
TALLADEGA, Ala. (May 6, 1997) When an event such as the Winston 500 at Talladega Superspeedway is postponed, change is inevitable. Infield tickets remain for the rescheduled 28th annual event and will go on sale Friday at 7 a.m., but the availability of infield tickets is one of the few things that didn't change. The two days of rain that forced the event to Saturday also forced the following changes:
One couple planned for months to get married Saturday at a church located just off Speedway Blvd., the main thoroughfare in front of Talladega Superspeedway. The wedding was scheduled for 6 p.m., which is about the same time race traffic would be pouring out of the track. The postponement of the Winston 500 forced Wendy Mullinax and Felix Burns, along with help from Talladega Superspeedway officials, to reschedule the wedding for Friday. Talladega Superspeedway assisted with reprinting and mailing the invitations, as well as rescheduling a photographer.
The ESPN broadcast booth will be minus Ned Jarrett this weekend, as Jarrett will be receiving an honorary doctorate Saturday from Lenoir-Rhyne College in Hickory, N.C. Jarrett will receive the degree during spring commencement exercises. An honorary doctorate is the highest award bestowed by the college. The honorary degree, approved by the Lenoir-Rhyne Board of Trustees, is awarded to people of outstanding character and personality who have distinguished themselves for scholarship or literary achievement, won professional or other distinction, or have rendered conspicuous service in a particular field. Jarrett is one of four individuals receiving the honor Saturday.
John Andretti could turn out to be the big loser from the rainout, as his Unocal 76 Challenge bonus decreased $22,800 over the weekend. The Unocal 76 Challenge bonus is available to any driver who wins from the pole. If the bonus is not claimed, it rolls over $7,600 each race. When Andretti won the pole for the Winston 500 April 25, the Unocal 76 Challenge bonus was $30,400, but that bonus went to Mark Martin Sunday when he won from the pole at Sears Point Raceway. The bonus available to Andretti is $7,600, but the Winston 500 hasn't been won from the pole since 1985.
While one bonus decreased, the NASCAR Winston Cup Leader Bonus gained $10,000 and now is at $50,000 for the Winston 500. The NASCAR Winston Cup Leader Bonus is available to any driver who wins the Winston 500 and is leading the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings at the end of the event. Dale Jarrett, Terry Labonte and Jeff Gordon are the only drivers with a mathematical shot at the bonus offered by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. The difference in bonus money brings the purse for the Winston 500 down to $1,654,311. The purse was $1,667,111 April 27.
One of the biggest changes for the Winston 500 came for the Coor's Light team, as Robby Gordon will bypass the Talladega event for qualifications for the Indianapolis 500. Felix Sabates teammate Joe Nemechek will drive Gordon's Chevrolet, but will start from the rear of the field instead of the 32nd starting position Gordon earned in qualifying. Nemechek, who started from the pole for the Birmingham Auto Dealers 500K presented by EasyCare Busch Series event at Talladega, failed to make the NASCAR Winston Cup event at the 2.66-mile track.
The Winston 500 in May is not a big change, as 25 of the 28 Winston 500s have been run in May, however, only two have been held later than May 10. The 1978 event was postponed until May 14, while the second Winston 500 was run on May 16, 1971. Only the first Winston 500 in 1970 and the 1995 and 1996 editions were held in April.
All infield tickets will be honored beginning at 7 a.m. Friday, while all Winston 500 grandstand tickets will be honored Saturday. The NASCAR Winston Cup Series cars return to Talladega Friday for a one- hour practice session beginning at 3 p.m. Areas of the grandstand will open at noon and admission is free.
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