BUSCH: Anthony Lazzaro To Make Busch Debut at Rockingham

HICKORY, N.C. (Jan. 7, 2000) - Anthony Lazzaro will make his NASCAR Busch Series debut in the McDonald's ...

HICKORY, N.C. (Jan. 7, 2000) - Anthony Lazzaro will make his NASCAR Busch Series debut in the McDonald's #97 Ford Taurus, Feb. 26 at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham.

Lazzaro's original plan was to make his debut at the Feb. 19th Daytona season opener, but due to a racing injury and a six-week recovering period, he was unable to meet NASCAR's eligibility requirements for rookie entry in a superspeedway race.

Lazzaro suffered a fracture of the thoracic T-3 vertebra in an accident while running fourth with seven laps remaining in last year's (Oct. 16) ARCA race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. The injury prevented him from competing in three ensuing Busch races, which would have given the NASCAR rookie the needed seat-time to be eligible for the Daytona opener.

"Of course I'm disappointed to miss out on Daytona," said Lazzaro, who captured the 1999 KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Series championship. "But I know I'll be able to prove myself once the season gets going. McDonald's Racing and PPI Motorsports are really committed to a good overall season, so we're trying real hard not to focus on any one race over the others. Our off-season testing has been going well, and I'm really counting the days until Rockingham."

Cal Wells III, owner of the McDonald's Busch team and president of PPI Motorsports, said, "We'd love to be at Daytona with Anthony behind the wheel of the McDonald's Ford Busch car, but we certainly understand NASCAR's position on this. NASCAR officials determine safety-based requirements for rookies at Daytona, and because of the injury we weren't able to meet them. While we are disappointed that we can't come out of the gate with Anthony at Daytona, we are working hard toward a strong showing from Rockingham forward."

Although Lazzaro will not compete in the Daytona opener, PPI Motorsports will enter the #97 McDonald's Ford with a substitute driver. Wells said he will make a final decision on who the substitute driver will be in the next three to four weeks.

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Drivers Anthony Lazzaro