Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

NASCAR Plays Musical Chairs More Changes Than Ever Hit Winston Cup

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

NASCAR Plays Musical Chairs More Changes Than Ever Hit Winston Cup

Article excerpt

DAYTONA BEACH -- For years, the only thing that's been a certainty in for stock car fans was watching Dale Earnhardt drive the black No. 3 Chevrolet.

Now even that will change at tomorrow's Daytona 500.

Earnhardt was one of the few drivers who didn't change sponsors, hire a new crew chief or move to a new team, but his car will be different for the first race of the new century. His trademark jet-black paint job will be changed to bright red as part of Chevrolet's promotion for the new 2000 Monte Carlo.

While Earnhardt will revert back to his black cars at the Feb. 27 race at Rockingham, N.C., the change, however brief, is proof that nothing lasts forever on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series.

The off season featured more changes than any other in the sport's 51-year history. In fact, more teams had significant change than stood pat.

The biggest move was Ricky Rudd selling out his own race team to drive the No. 28 Ford Taurus of Robert Yates Racing. Once Rudd accepted the ride last October, it triggered a rash of driver and sponsor swapping that lasted deep into the off season.

Some changes still are waiting to materialize. Car owner Cale Yarborough is close to selling his race team. As soon as he does, the new owner is certain to hire a driver and start the difficult task of finding a sponsor.

Other notable drivers who found new employment this year were: Johnny Benson, Wally Dallenbach, Kenny Irwin, Ken Schrader, Joe Nemechek, Rick Mast and Jerry Nadeau. And adding to NASCAR's new look this year are a rookie class of eight -- Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth, Dave Blaney, Mike Bliss, Jeff Fuller, Stacy Compton, Scott Pruett and Ed Berrier.

The new season also will bring some new financial blood, including the most-unique sponsorship in stock car history -- Viagra.

The whirlwind of changes also included crew chiefs. …

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