Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

NASCAR Debate Is Ready to Rev Up

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

NASCAR Debate Is Ready to Rev Up

Article excerpt

ATLANTA -- Of the new Ford Taurus that will make it's NASCAR

debut this week at Daytona, Chevy driver Mike Skinner says, "I

think it's going to absolutely kill us at Rockingham and

Charlotte and places like that. I think they're going to murder

us."

Of the new Chevy SB2 engine that also will turn its first

competitive laps, Ford driver Rusty Wallace says, "We know it's

20 horsepower stronger than what they had. We've got a new car;

they've got a new motor, and, by far, it's not an even deal."

This is called poor-mouthing, and it has become an excepted and

even essential practice in stock car racing. To win on the

NASCAR circuit nowadays, you need a great driver, a big-money

sponsor, a fast car and a big mouth.

NASCAR determines through subtle rules changes whether a Ford

is faster than a Chevy or vise versa, and the advantage often

goes to the side that lobbies the hardest.

With Ford introducing a car that's bound to have flaws, and

Chevy bringing in a new engine that's said to be more powerful

and durable than its old one, the potential exits for a big gap

between the makes at some tracks.

Stock car racing is like no other sport, because the governing

body -- NASCAR -- tries to maintain parity by changing the rules

on the fly. A half-inch lowering of the air dam here, or a

quarter-inch raising of the spoiler there, and suddenly a car

that was a dog one week is a comet the next.

Some of this tweaking is quite silly. But think about this: If

NASCAR didn't grant Fords concessions throughout last year, how

many more races would Jeff Gordon have won in his Chevy? Chevy

owner Felix Sabates was only half joking when he suggested that

Gordon, the series champion with 10 wins, would have gone

undefeated in a Ford.

About the Taurus, we know this much: You have to have a good

imagination to think the race car looks like one of the Tauruses

lined up down at Avis. …

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