Carburetor ruling is blow to Wallace


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Rusty Wallace's No. 2 Dodge has been disqualified from Thursday's twin 125-mile qualifying races, in which he finished fourth. But Wallace will still start 38th in tomorrow's Daytona 500 with a provisional based on car-owner points from last season.

In a post-race inspection, his Dodge was discovered to have an illegal interior carburetor part. NASCAR officials said they waited until after yesterday's Winston Cup practice to make the announcement, so they could complete inspections of all 10 cars that were reviewed after the race.

"If we had to change the starting lineup, we only wanted to do it once," said series director John Darby.

Besides losing his starting spot on the fourth row, Wallace also lost the $26,475 that went with his finishing position in the qualifying race, and crew chief Bill Wilburn will be fined an additional $10,000.

"I'm OK with the penalty," said Wallace. "I just hate it happened. NASCAR knows there was no intent on our part. ... But, a rule's a rule and we're just embarrassed about the whole thing."

The interior part, called the venturi, was smaller than required at Daytona and Talladega, Ala., where restrictor plates are used to lower speeds. Darby said the illegal part "might cause gains in horsepower - or might not. And might increase miles-per-gallon - or might not. The bottom line is the carburetor did not meet specifications."

The findings did not change who will be in tomorrow's 500, only the starting positions.

Martin ties IROC record

Mark Martin demonstrated again yesterday just how much he loves racing in the International Race of Champions (IROC) Series. He won the True Value IROC 27 - Race 1 at Daytona International Speedway.

The victory was his 11th and equaled the record-setting performances of Al Unser Jr. and the late Dale Earnhardt.

"Al Jr. was the best all-around guy I've ever seen jump into an IROC car cold turkey and just go like crazy," said Martin, who averaged 177.253 mph to beat his Winston Cup teammate, Kurt Busch, to the finish by .123 of a second.

"And, of course, everyone knows how tough Earnhardt was to beat. We had some great races and some great battles," Martin said. "But, we had a great race today, too. I've got a bunch of kids out there now who are incredible race-car drivers. It was a pretty tall order today."

Busch said he enjoyed the race and didn't mind finishing second.

"The classiest guy won the race," Busch said.

Truck finish thrills

The Florida Dodge Dealers 250 Craftsman Truck race came down to the finish line yesterday, with Rick Crawford, Travis Kvapil and Robert Pressley three abreast.

Crawford inched ahead to win and Kvapil nosed in front of Pressley for second just as the checkered flag flew on the sixth-closest finish in truck series history.

Crawford, driving his No. 14 Ford named Hound Dog, won by .027 of a second and claimed a record truck-series payoff of $84,585. He said he felt like Elvis when he came here for this race: "My hands were shaking and my knees were weak," he said.

Valentine proposal

Truck Series rookie Randy Briggs was running his warm-up lap, when he thought of his girlfriend, Mary Ward, who was sitting on his pit box.

"I just said, 'What the heck,' keyed the radio and asked her if it would be rude to ask her to get married at a race track," said Briggs. "We've been dating for three years, her birthday was yesterday, this is Valentine's Day, and I thought it was the right time. She loves this as much as I do."

Briggs thought Ward had said "Yes" to his proposal but wasn't really sure until the race was over and he pulled into the garage. Ward wrapped her arms around his neck and said, "You bet!"

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