Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ford Assisted in Closing Gap

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ford Assisted in Closing Gap

Article excerpt

DAYTONA BEACH -- The goal in sports is to have every game

decided in triple overtime and every race come down to a photo

finish. Perfect season: Fifteen teams two games under .500

fighting for the last wild-card berth.

I hate parity. Give me dominant teams and blowouts. Give me

the Fiesta Bowl. The Chicago Bulls. Give me Dale Earnhardt

passing Rick Mast's Pontiac like it was a seagull sunning on

Richard Petty Boulevard.

But parity it is in NASCAR for 1996. Dale Jarrett's Busch Clash

victory yesterday serves notice that Ford is back after getting

stomped on last year like some Art Modell magazine photo.

Ford and Chevy, Chevy and Ford. Once again, these cars are as

equal as Johnson & Johnson.

Of course, there is no statement from the Ford camp that the

gap has been closed. Said Jarrett after his impressive win in

the 50-mile race for 1995 pole winners: "Next Sunday [Daytona

500] is a whole different story, and even Thursday [Twin 125

qualifying races] is a different story. I don't want to sit here

and complain after winning the race, but there's still a

disadvantage for the Fords."

Added Robert Yates, the car owner for Jarrett and Ernie Irvan:

"You really can't tell from this race because the tires don't

heat up until about 17 laps [the Clash is run in two 10-lap

segments], and that's when we start to have our problems."

We might point out here that Jarrett, in his overmatched Ford,

rocketed from 13th to second on the first lap of the second

segment and passed Earnhardt with seven laps remaining. Last

year at Daytona, a Ford couldn't pass a Chevy unless it was

hooked to the back of a tow truck.

As the Ford guys tell it, Chevy still has an "unfair" advantage

because its Monte Carlo is 5 inches wider in the rear than the

street car of the same name. The extra girth is said to give

Chevy more downforce, allowing it to travel through the turns

faster, especially after a track becomes slick halfway through a

race. …

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