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Thirty years later, Marcis still running strong

February 17, 1997

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ Dave Marcis did more than qualify for his record 30th straight Daytona 500. He finished 17th, and on the lead lap.

``I’m real happy with it,″ Marcis said. ``And 17th ain’t too shabby for a 55-year-old guy.″

Marcis got caught in a 10-car accident on the 197th lap, but managed to keep his Chevrolet in the race.

``It was a bunch of smoke and you didn’t know what was going on,″ he said. ``You just try to find a hole and get through it.″

Marcis, working on a shoestring budget as one of the last independent drivers, has five Winston Cup series victories since beginning on the circuit in 1968. He hasn’t won since 1982.

Marcis now has run 4,267 laps for 10,667 miles at the Daytona 500, trailing only stock car king Richard Petty. And he may not be done yet.

``We’ll be here next year for 31,″ Marcis said. ``I don’t know how many more we’ll do, but I plan to be back in 1998.″

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TRICKLE’S TURMOIL: As his nephew fights to recover a gunshot wound to the head, Dick Trickle was victimized by the 10-car pileup at the end of the Daytona 500 and finished 30th.

``All I remember is I saw some cars high and I saw smoke, and I saw cars going every which way,″ Trickle said. ``I thought, `I’m going to keep mine as straight as I can.′ But it plugged all up and I just went into the middle of the pile.″

Chris Trickle, a rising star who has one win and five top 5 finishes on NASCAR’s Southwest Tour Division, was shot one week ago Sunday as he drove on a dark overpass about Interstate 15 near Las Vegas.

He has undergone two operations to remove bullet fragments from his head. Police are still looking for the gunman.

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WINLESS WALLACE: Rusty Wallace now has 51 starts at Daytona International Speedway without a victory.

Wallace, third behind Darrell Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt among active drivers with 46 victories, blew an engine in his Ford on the 48th lap.

``We were going to pit and get some wedge out of it and get the tire pressure fixed, then all of a sudden we lost the motor,″ Wallace said.

Wallace was using an engine that already had 1,000 miles on it. He had it rebuilt this week in North Carolina and finished installing it Saturday morning.

Was he pushing his luck?

``I don’t think that was a problem,″ he said. ``It just kept getting tighter and tighter and tighter. But then the motor blew and we couldn’t fix it.″

Crew chief Robin Pemberton said the team was optimistic it could made an adjustment at the next pit stop. It never came.

``Things like this at Daytona, they don’t give you much of a warning,″ Pemberton said. ``They either happen or they don’t.″

Wallace, the rookie of the year in 1984 and the Winston Cup champion in 1989, has four top-10 finishes in 14 Daytona 500s. He finished next-to-last on Sunday.

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SLAMMIN’ SPENCER: Jimmy Spencer, one of the more aggressive drivers in NASCAR, slammed into the wall on the 49th lap that led to collisions with Geoff Bodine and Derrike Cope.

Then he almost took out a member of his crew.

Spencer lost his brakes when he hit the wall. He couldn’t slow coming into pit road and clipped the foot of jackman Wayne Jenks when he dove headfirst over the hood.

Jenks, using the jack to help break his fall, was not seriously injured.

``You don’t use your brakes until pit road,″ Spencer said. ``My mistake there. God was watching over us. We were lucky nobody got hurt.″

Spencer, who started seventh, said he wasn’t sure what gave on his Ford.

``It just hit the wall,″ he said. ``There was no warning or nothing. We had a car that could win the 500. This just rips my heart out.″

Spencer has two career victories, including the 1994 Pepsi 400 at Daytona.

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NO HARD FEELINGS: Ken Schrader went low after turn two to pass Steve Grissom on the 90th lap, but Grissom made a clumsy attempt to block him and both wound up in the infield grass, spinning back into the wall.

``He had more on me than I gave him credit for and I just drove across his front end,″ said Grissom, the outside pole-sitter in a Chevrolet. ``It was one of those deals where I just messed up and it took us both out.″

Schrader, who started 10th, felt his Chevrolet was good enough to win, but didn’t begrudge Grissom.

``These cars race so fast and so close together,″ Schrader said. ``I’d race with Steve any day. He just didn’t realize how fast we were coming and he got us down in the grass.″

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PRESSLEY FLIP: Robert Pressley became the first casualty when he got loose starting the backstretch on the eighth lap, and a bump from Terry Labonte sent his Chevrolet into a flip.

The car landed on all four wheels in the infield grass, but Pressley was taken to the hospital after complaining of pain in his lower spine. He was listed in stable condition.

Pressley, who has never finished better than fourth on the Winston Cup series, started 19th in his third 500.

Todd Bodine replaced him behind the wheel and finished 39th.

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CREW CHIEF FINES: Crew chiefs Doug Hewitt and Paul Andrew were each fined this week because of improper roll bars earlier this week, NASCAR announced Sunday.

Hewitt was fined $2,500 because a vertical roll bar in Johnny Benson’s Pontiac was deemed too thin during a routine inspection.

Andrew’s fine was $5,000 because two vertical bars failed inspection in Jeremy Mayfield’s Ford.

Neither car was allowed on the track until the bars were fixed.

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PIT STOPS: For the second year in a row, the winner of the 20-lap Busch Clash has won the Daytona 500. Still, it has happened only four times since the made-for-television sprint race began in 1979. ... The last driver to use the 500 as a springboard for a Winston Cup title was Petty in 1979. ... Dale Earnhardt led for 48 laps, marking the 17th time in 19 Daytona 500s that he has led at some point. Only Richard Petty has led more (20). ... Mike Skinner was penalized 15 seconds in the pit when one of his tire changers jumped the wall too soon. He came into pit in third place and left in 21st. ... Of the 42 cars in the field, 22 were involved in an accident. ... Herschel Walker of the Dallas Cowboys took a tour of the garage before the race. Todd Parrott, the crew chief for Dale Jarrett, was among those who asked for his autograph.

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