MIAMI (Feb. 15, 2000) -- NASCAR's popular Slim Jim All Pro Series has joined the schedule for Homestead-Miami Speedway's season-opening Florida Dodge Dealers 400 February 25-26, joining the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Homestead resident Mike...
MIAMI (Feb. 15, 2000) -- NASCAR's popular Slim Jim All Pro Series has joined the schedule for Homestead-Miami Speedway's season-opening Florida Dodge Dealers 400 February 25-26, joining the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
Homestead resident Mike Franklin has posted the first entry for the race, which is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 26.
"This will be an ideal situation," said the 29-year-old Franklin, who is co-owner of Franklin's Auto Repair in Homestead. "It's fantastic to be able to race in front of your hometown crowd, especially after coming off the biggest victory of my career. There's no better way to kick-start your season. Hopefully, I'll be able to give them something to be proud of."
Franklin collected a career-best payday of $10,000 when he won the Budweiser 200 at Ocala Speedway last November, defeating many of Florida's top late model drivers in the process.
Franklin ran a limited NASCAR Slim Jim All Pro schedule last year, but finished in the top 10 in five out of six races, including races at Orange County (N.C.), Bristol (Tenn.), Greenville (S.C) and Lanier (Ga.). His plan for 2000 is to run more races in the series.
"Our focus for 2000 is to run many more All Pro races," he explained. "I'd like to run more underneath the NASCAR banner to gain more exposure."
Florida fans will have no trouble recognizing Franklin's red and white No. 7 Monte Carlo, sponsored by Spitzer Dodge, Checkmate Truck Brokers, Afco Race Products, Progressive Race Engines, and Doug Ingram and Sons Nursery. His parents -- Mike Sr. and Ruth -- own the car, with "the same guys I've had the past three years" working on it -- crew chief Allen Mincey, Adiel Nunez, Ruben Rivera, Eddie Hamby and Craig Weeks.
As the "new kid on the block" in the Slim Jim All Pro Series, Franklin faces a learning experience just about every time out in the NASCAR Touring Division. But not at Homestead.
"I've run four All Pro races here, and that definitely helps us a bunch. Nowhere do we run at a track as fast and as big as we do here. I've tallied a lot of laps here, and only a handful of guys with the series have that much experience here. Experience-wise, we should be OK.
"Unfortunately, it seems like we had bad luck in all four races here. Last time (in 1998) we qualified fourth, and we had a good top-five car when a tire exploded and put us down a lap. I just hope we have better luck on our side next time."
Tickets are now on sale for the Florida Dodge Dealers 400 by calling (305) 230-RACE. For additional information, visit the Speedway's official web site, www.homesteadmiamispeedway.com.