CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- NASCAR's Winston Cup Series lineup will undergo another major in-season change this week with Ford drivers Geoff Bodine and Lake Speed assuming new rides.
Bodine, 44, will move from the Bud Moore Engineering team to drive for the operation built and formerly owned by the late Winston Cup champion Alan Kulwicki, who died April 1 in a plane crash. Bodine bought the team from Kulwicki's father, Gerry, in May.
Speed, 45, who had completed a limited schedule of 11 races this season with his team, will succeed Bodine in Moore's cars.
For the time being, at least, this leaves veteran Jimmy Hensley, 47, who had been driving the Kulwicki/Bodine cars, without a ride.
Originally, the switch involving Bodine and Speed wasn't to take place until the end of this season. But Ford officials agreed yesterday to allow Bodine to get started with his program. That freed the Moore Thunderbirds for Speed, who was hired Sept. 3, to begin a familiarization run in preparation for 1994.
Ford has been the sponsor for the Bodine/Moore team through its Motorcraft parts division and had hoped to have the driver represent the company during the NASCAR postseason awards program in New York in December.
The top 10 in the standings go on stage at the Waldorf-Astoria. Bodine is 11th in the points race after finishing 34th Saturday night in the Miller 400 at Richmond, Va.
"This is a good developmental move for 1994 and may well pay dividends in '93 in the form of another NASCAR Manufacturers' Championship for Ford," said Lee Morse, manager of performance operations for Ford's Special Vehicles wing.
Bodine said: "I planned to live up to my commitment. . . . As Bud [Moore] said, this makes the most sense for everybody. It gives my team a chance to showcase its talents for potential sponsors. . . .
"The hardest thing I have to do is make the call to Jimmy Hensley."
Speed said: "I'm ready to get on with the program. I'm tickled we can get a jump start on next year."
Seven of this season's 30 races remain, starting with the Splitfire 500 on Sunday at Dover (Del.) Downs.