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NASCAR may have put Ford at a disadvantage

By Staff
Amanda Vincent/NASCAR Columnist
Jan. 26, 2002
One note of good news from the past week, Steve Park may be ready to return to racing next month. Park made his first public appearance at the Winston Cup Preview recently and told reporters that he will be testing soon to see if he's ready to return. He speculated that he may be healthy enough to run the season-opener Daytona 500, but if not, he should be ready sometime in
Now that preseason Winston Cup testing at Daytona is in the history books, Ford teams are claiming to be at a disadvantage aerodynamically.
Chevrolet and Dodge did seem to dominate the two testing sessions with rookie Jimmie Johnson in a Monte Carlo and Ward Burton in an Intrepid leading the way in the opening three days of testing earlier this month and Mike Wallace
in a Chevrolet and Bill Elliott in a Dodge topping the second three days of testing.
Representatives of other manufacturers claim that Ford teams are simply "sandbagging."
NASCAR tested a few options with a couple of Ford teams, but no changes have been announced so far. The sanctioning body may, however, may still announce changes before returning to Daytona for the 500.
Bobby Hamilton Jr. may be small, but he may be more intimidating in 2002, at least off the track. As mentioned a few weeks ago, the Team Marines Busch Series team, including driver Hamilton experienced basic training, Marine
style. While in training, Hamilton received lessons in martial arts and
firing M-16s.
The team may have unintentionally created a trend. Tony Liberati, who is a crew chief for the No. 92 Busch Series team and a former Marine, would like to take his team to training.
Liberati said that he runs his team like a military operation already. Maybe his team feels like it already has gone through the rigors of basic training.
There may finally be something new on the horizon for Pontiac. Both Ford and Chevrolet have made significant body changes in the new millennium, but Pontiac has been utilizing the same body for six years.
According to Bobby Labonte, driver for one of five full-time Winston Cup teams running a Pontiac, there is a good possibility he will test a 2003 Pontiac body sometime this season. Joe Gibbs Racing began working on the new model during the 2001 season.
The deadline for submitting new car models for 2003 is July 1, 2002.
The NASCAR Winston Cup and Busch series schedules have been printed here the last two weeks. Below is the Craftsman Truck Series schedule.
Feb. 15 Daytona International Speedway
March 15 Darlington Raceway
April 13 Martinsville Speedway
May 5 Gateway International Raceway
May 19 Pikes Peak International Raceway
May 31 MBNA America 200 at Dover Downs International Speedway
June 7 O'Reilly 400 at Texas Motor Speedway
June 22 Memphis Motorsports Park
June 29 The Milwaukee Mile
July 6 Kansas Speedway
July 13 Kentucky Speedway
July 20 New Hampshire International Speedway
July 27 Michigan International Speedway
Aug. 2 Indianapolis Raceway Park
Aug. 10 Nashville Superspeedway
Aug. 25 Chicago Motor Speedway
Sept. 5 Richmond International Raceway
Sept. 13 Silverado 350 at Texas Motor Speedway
Sept. 21 South Boston Speedway
Oct. 13 Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Nov. 2 California Speedway
Nov. 8 Phoenix International Raceway
Nov. 15  Homestead-Miami Speedway