May. 21, 2000
CONCORD, N.C. (AP) _ Every sport has an all-star game, but as the Winston Cup schedule sets to expand by another two races next year, the question of racing losing its event becomes a possibility.
The Winston Cup circuit will run 36 races next season. Add in the Bud Shootout the week before the season-opening Daytona 500, and The Winston, and the calendar will be filled on 38 weekends.
``Adding those weekends adds a lot to the schedule, a whole lot,'' driver Sterling Marlin said. ``I just keep seeing the schedule get tighter and tighter, the guys getting more and more worn out, and everybody wondering what we're going to do.''
One possibility is combining The Winston, which was run Saturday night for the 16th straight year, with next week's Coca Cola 600.
``Should they have this race? Yeah, I believe they should,'' driver Jeremy Mayfield said. ``Maybe they could schedule it a little differently or run it a little differently or change this or try that.
``But I will tell you this. If it's not that big of a deal, why are so many teams so desperate to get into it?''
One reason the teams all come is for the purse, which is up to a record $2 million this season with $500,000 guaranteed to the winner. Another reason is the track time it affords teams preparing for next week's Coca Cola 600.
Still, the present form keeps teams at the track for almost two weeks, a period Marlin thinks is way too long.
``It takes a toll on everybody and the guys are just beat to death after two weeks of Charlotte,'' he said. ``It's two weeks of pressure and two big races. Everybody wants to win them both.
WINSTON OPEN: Steve Park raced his way into the main event Saturday night by easily winning the 30-lap Winston Open.
Park, who started fourth, passed Jimmy Spencer in turn four of lap 18 and quickly began to distance himself from the field. He beat runner-up Jerry Nadeau to the finish line by about 20 car lengths.
The remaining 23 cars then ran four laps under caution, pitting once, before finishing with the 16-lap No Bull Sprint.
Nadeau won the second sprint to claim the final spot in the 20-car field for The Winston.
Mike Skinner looked like he was going to run away with the second race, but the field caught up with him when Chad Little hit the wall on lap six to bring out a yellow flag.
After the restart, Elliott Sadler went high in turn four to try to pass Skinner but the two cars tapped and Sadler banged the wall. Kevin Lepage slid by Skinner to take over the lead as the second caution came out on lap 11.
The field got the green flag on lap 14 and Nadeau passed Lepage with one to go to earn a spot in The Winston.
Geoffrey Bodine, who survived a horrifying wreck at Daytona in February, brought out the only caution of The Winston Open when he hit Dave Marcis on lap one and both cars slid into the wall along the frontstretch.
Neither was injured but both were forced out of the race in what turned out to be an eight-lap caution.
ARCA EASYCARE 100: Lyndon Amick, whose car carried a tribute to Adam Petty, held off a challenge from Kerry Earnhardt on the final lap Saturday to win the ARCA/Bondo Mar-Hyde EasyCare Vehicle Service Contracts 100.
Amick took the lead on lap 47 and survived a one lap shootout after Brian Ross brought out the third caution of the race by spinning out on lap 60.
The field went green on the 67th and final lap and Amick survived a hard charge from Earnhardt to hang on for the win. Pole-sitter Tim Steele finished third and Justin Labonte, son of Winston Cup star Terry Labonte, finished fourth in his first-ever ARCA race.
Amick placed a commemorative decal on the hood of his car featuring Petty's name and the No. 45 logo against a ``Petty Blue'' background. Next to it is a checkered flag flying at half-staff. Petty was killed May 12 in a practice crash at New Hampshire International Speedway.
Amick had decided it was appropriate to use the decal during the race because Petty's first ARCA start came at the Charlotte track in September of 1998. Petty won that race and became the youngest winner in the history of the ARCA Series.
``To win here, the race Adam won, when I was racing for him is just great,'' said Amick, who also was wearing a No. 45 hat ``Our hearts are with him and I felt him here with us tonight.''
RUDD'S REQUIREMENT: Ricky Rudd had been one of only three drivers to race in all 15 of the previous all-star events, but failed to make it 16 straight Saturday when he didn't qualify for The Winston.
Only Rudd, Darrell Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt had raced in all of them. But since Rudd failed to win a Winston Cup race as an owner-driver last season for the first time since 1983, he lost his spot in The Winston for the first time since its inception in 1985.
Rudd failed to make the field when he finished fourth in the Winston Open and eighth in the No Bull Sprint.
ADAM PETTY'S CAR: Petty Enterprises' Grand National team, which fielded the No. 45 car Adam Petty drove, will not compete in next week's Carquest 300 at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
NASCAR officials have confirmed that the Petty car is not entered in next week's race.
Petty Enterprises has not made any decisions about when Adam's father, Kyle, will return to Winston Cup racing and whether or not anybody will drive the Grand National car again this season. The elder Petty is not driving either this week of next.
He will be replaced in the Coca-Cola 600 by Steve Grissom, who drives for Petty Enterprises on the NASCAR truck circuit.