Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

DAYTONA NOTEBOOK; Making the Field 'On a Dream'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

DAYTONA NOTEBOOK; Making the Field 'On a Dream'

Article excerpt


DAYTONA BEACH - A year ago, Bob Askin was working construction. Now he's on a race team - and in the Daytona 500.

As one of the volunteer crewmen for Tommy Baldwin Racing, Askin's loyalty was rewarded Thursday when Scott Riggs drove to an eighth-place finish in the first of two 150-mile Gatorade Duels qualifying races, locking the upstart team into Sunday's main event at Daytona International Speedway.

In a little more than a month, Baldwin opened a shop, bought a couple of cars and started one of the most improbable dreams in the Sprint Cup Series. Everyone on the team, both at the shop and at the track, is working for the love of racing, not money.

"You can always find a way to make the house payment," Askin said.

When the shop doors open every morning, as many as 25 people show up, most of them laid off recently by other teams, to help Baldwin get ready for the season. He had eight volunteers at the track Thursday, and he got more free help from Germain Racing, from the truck series, on pit road.

"We get 15 to 25 coming every day to help," Baldwin said. "We're here on a dream, not having millions and millions of dollars. We proved today you can get the job done at a fraction of the cost if you're willing to work hard."

Tony Stewart finished second in the qualifying race to secure the other qualifying spot for the 500. By using his finish in the 150, Regan Smith was able to use his speed in time trials to move into Sunday's race.

Daytona uses a unique formula of provisional exemptions, qualifying speeds, qualifying race results and past champion's provisions to set the field for the 500.

"I don't understand it fully," Stewart said. "I don't know how we ended up where we did. NASCAR is smarter people that we are. They set the lineup and tell us where to start."

Jeremy Mayfield and A.J. Allmendinger clinched the last two berths into the 500 in the second qualifying race. Both were in tears at the finish line. …

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