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||What it means|
||Larry Woody of the The Tennessean in Nashville says there are plenty of reasons why Dale Earnhardt will claim his elusive, Richard Petty-passing, record-setting eighth Winston Cup championship this season. Woody says Earnhardt was ready to pounce last season had champ Bobby Labonte slipped at all.
||An eighth championship will break Earnhardt's tie with Richard Petty. He wants it more than anything in racing, and the fire-balling grandpa who turns 50 in April knows he doesn't have a lot of shots left. After winning five races in the past two seasons, this year may be his last legitimate shot. |
||Dustin Long of the Greensboro News and Record says that Jack Roush isn't predicting a Winston Cup title in 2001. Maybe he should. With a stable that includes Jeff Burton, Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth and rookie Kurt Busch, 2001 may finally be the year that a team owned by Roush Racing captures the Winston Cup title.
||Eight times in the last 11 years, a Roush car has finished in the top three in points but has never won. Instead, Roush watched car owners Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick, Robert Yates and Joe Gibbs celebrate titles in the last decade. Mechanical breakdowns and wrecks erased Martin's chances last year. He placed ninth in the points -- his worst finish in 11 seasons.
||Tony Fabrizio of the The Dallas Morning News says Dodge is back with a well-financed effort spearheaded by former crew chief extraordinaire Ray Evernham. With five teams and 10 cars entered full-time for the 2001 season, Dodge is virtually assured of competing in the Daytona 500 for the first time since 1982.
||Nearly a quarter century has passed since Chrysler made any real investment in Winston Cup racing. The last Dodge driver to win a Winston Cup race was the late Neil Bonnett at defunct Ontario (Calif.) Motor Speedway in 1977. The last Dodge to run in the Daytona 500 was driven by Buddy Arrington to a 15th-place finish in 1982.
||Jim Utter of the Charlotte Observer says defending Busch Series champion Jeff Green is looking for his second consecutive title this season, starting with the Feb. 17 season-opening NAPA 300 at Daytona International Speedway. Green will have plenty of challengers for the title, and also a couple of changes in the series that may throw a kink or two into his title run.
||NASCAR changed the engine rules for the series, bringing the cars more in line with those in the Winston Cup Series. The change should provide for better racing as added horsepower will likely mean drivers will have to lift off their accelerators, something many have not had to do in past seasons. At any rate, Green said he is hopeful he and his No. 10 team can repeat their strong run of a year ago.