BUSCH: Ed Berrier Joins Rookie Race.

Donlavey, Berrier Join Raybestos Rookie Race By Marty Smith RICHMOND, Va. (Feb. 4, 2000) The most potent rookie crop to ever invade the NASCAR Winston Cup Series has added a potential new member. NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division...

Donlavey, Berrier Join Raybestos Rookie Race By Marty Smith

RICHMOND, Va. (Feb. 4, 2000) The most potent rookie crop to ever invade the NASCAR Winston Cup Series has added a potential new member. NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division veteran Ed Berrier joins the NASCAR 2000 Raybestos Rookie of the Year mix in Junie Donlavey's Ford Tauruses, which will be sponsored by Hills Bros Coffee for no less than the first two races of the season. According to Donlavey, the team plans to run the entire 34-race schedule this season, but has to wait to get the final word from Hills Bros -- which sponsored the No. 90 cars in a limited number of 1999 events -- to be completely certain. As it stands, Hills Bros has signed on to sponsor the No. 90 Fords at Daytona and Rockingham, but the remainder of the season is still up in the air.

"Until they really come over and get everything lined up like it should be, we won't really know," said Donlavey Friday from the team's shop. "They haven't really come up with the (final) deal yet. Everything looks good, but how many times have we been up the road and fallen off the cliff? Just when we thought everything was ready, it blew up. I'm not gonna count my blessings before they happen."

Donlavey, who has been a NASCAR team owner for some 50 years, went on to say that even if the Hills Bros deal were to fall through, the team plans to run the entire NASCAR Winston Cup Series schedule, even if that means he'll foot the bill himself.

"We had talked to Hills Bros," he said. "We ran some races for them last year, but Nestle sold Hills Bros to Sara Lee. So, now everything is kinda up in the air with transferring all of that stuff. They did say we'll run Daytona and Rockingham, and that'll give them time to get the other stuff together. But until they tell me, I can't say we've got them for the whole year. We will run (unsponsored) if we have to."

During his 25 years as a car owner, Donlavey has produced three NASCAR Winston Cup Rookies of the Year - Bill Dennis, Jody Ridley and Ken Schrader. Berrier hopes to upend the likes of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth and Dave Blaney in NASCAR 2000, adding his name to that list along the way.

"We're proud he's gonna run in that great class," said Donlavey of his 38-year old driver, who hails from Winston-Salem, N.C. "We'd sure love to put him up in there with them. Having three rookies of the year down through our career, I'd kinda like to wind up with one."

The past few years have been tumultuous for Donlavey Racing. Lost sponsorships have haunted him. Following the 1998 season, longtime sponsor Heilig-Myers dropped out of the sport. Then, Donlavey entered Speedweeks 1999 with Big Daddy's Bar-B-Q on the car, but that deal fell through, leaving him sponsorless for the biggest race of the year. Mike Wallace stepped into the car at the last moment and raced to a solid 23rd-place finish.

"It was so frustrating last year. It was really bad," Donlavey said. "I didn't want to quit, yet we didn't have anything. We thought we had something when we went into Daytona, and when that fell through it killed us.

"I didn't want to quit, but I was smart enough to know that I couldn't make every race, cause when you make a race, it costs you loads of money. Every nickel came out of my pocket."

This year, things promise to be different. Donlavey is excited. His No. 90 Fords will have Penske engines under the hood, and a young, vibrant driver who scored his career first NASCAR Busch Series victory in 1998, behind the wheel.

"It really makes you feel good knowing you can go down there and afford the tires, afford the engine and have a great driver like Ed Berrier," Donlavey said. "We feel real good about it." -nascar.com-

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Mike Wallace , Ed Berrier , Dave Blaney , Bill Dennis