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Finally, Happy Hour
With the big one Sunday, the final practice is upon us
Posted: Saturday February 17, 2001 12:22 PM
Bill Elliott will sit on the pole for Daytona's 43rd running in Dodge's re-entrance to the race. AP
By John Donovan, CNNSI.com
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Ever since some 52 hopefuls rolled into the Winston Cup garage here at Daytona International Speedway more than a week ago, the tinkering has not stopped. The practicing has been constant.
Tonight, the practicing stops. Not long after, the tinkering halts, too.
Happy Hour for the Daytona 500 is here.
Happy Hour -- Winston Cup slang for the last practice run before the big event -- commences late this afternoon, after the Busch Series race early this afternoon. It is the last time teams get a chance to see how their car reacts, on the track, to last-minute adjustments.
And you better believe that many teams are still making last-minute adjustments.
"We took our notes," pole-sitter Bill Elliott said of his No. 9 Dodge, "and we'll continue to work on it for the 500."
Last year's champ, Dale Jarrett, is busy banging the car he wrecked in the Gatorade 125s back into racing shape. Ron Hornaday, who tangled with Jarrett in the qualifier, is getting part of another car shipped so he can fix his primary ride. Tony Stewart, who banged his main car up in qualifying, is fixing his, too.
All will watch carefully how they run at Happy Hour. Because closing time for finding out comes Sunday, when the 43rd Daytona 500 begins at 1 p.m.
Dale Earnhardt lives up to his rep, those wimpy open-wheel guys live down to theirs and stock car fans everywhere are laughing their caps off. The Intimidator's run-in with Eddie Cheever Jr. in Friday's IROC is the stuff legends continue to be built on.
The big Busch one
You could argue, if you were of that ilk, that the Busch cars are more fun to watch that the Winston Cup ones. Today's NAPA Auto Parts 300 could be faster than Sunday's 500. It'll be just as closely raced. Which makes it a perfect tune-up to the Great American Race
Mid-week in Daytona was hot, which is hellish on tires which is hellish on the car's handling The forecast for race day is a little cooler, which should make for crisper handling and a better race -- as long as the wind doesn't kick up.
Eddie Cheever Jr.
OK. Not really. But we do like the fact that he had the ball bearings to take on The Intimidator in his own back yard. You gotta give him credit for that.
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