Dodge ends contract with Bill Davis team


DOVER, Del. - Ryan Newman's pole-winning qualifying effort for tomorrow's MBNA Armed Forces Family 400 Winston Cup race was overshadowed yesterday by the news that Dodge had canceled its contract with Bill Davis Racing.

Davis, who owns the cars driven by Ward Burton and Kenny Wallace, switched from Ford to Dodge three years ago. He was told before the Coca-Cola 600 last week that his contract was being voided.

Todd Goyer, manager of Dodge Motorsports, said Bill Davis Racing had done something "intolerable."

Approached at Dover International Speedway, Davis said, "No comment," throughout the day.

His teams are in tomorrow's lineup, having qualified 36th and 39th in the 43-car field.

"[Davis] can run Dodge as long as he wants as an independent team," Goyer said.

No one associated with Dodge or the Davis team is saying exactly what brought on such a devastating reaction from Dodge.

"I don't know what happened," said Wallace. "You need the support of a manufacturer, I'll tell you that much. You need it for a fact. But, at the same time, having Bill Davis as your owner is like having Roger Penske as your owner. He will give us cars that are competitive. Our cars will perform."

Around this racetrack, where the Winston Cup cars are scheduled to run tomorrow, weather permitting, nearly everyone says Dodge ended its contract because Davis has been in discussions with Toyota concerning a new Craftsman Truck Team.

"I don't know how in the hell you lose [a manufacturer's support] in the middle of the season," said Rusty Wallace, Kenny Wallace's brother and a fellow Dodge driver and car owner. "It must have been a breach. It must have been something with them talking to Toyota. I don't know. But losing your manufacturer could mean as much as $1.5 million in terms of free cars, wind tunnel testing and money."

Toyota will become the first "foreign" manufacturer to participate in a NASCAR racing series when it enters the truck series next season.

While the Davis team tried to keep a lid on their troubles, Newman concentrated on moving his Dodge around Dover's high-banked, mile-long concrete oval.

"A year ago, when I came here as a rookie for the first time, I spun out trying to qualify," Newman said, after running 158.716 mph to bump his teammate off the pole. "I've got a lot more knowledge now than I did then."

Rusty Wallace was more than a mile an hour slower, with his No. 2 Dodge circling the track at 157.322 mph. Jeremy Mayfield, also in a Dodge, qualified third and Winston Cup points leader Matt Kenseth was fourth in a Ford.

Last week's Coca-Cola 600 winner, Jimmie Johnson, had the highest-placing Chevrolet in fifth, and Mike Wallace led the Pontiac contingent in 18th.

Johnson won at Dover twice last season and is seeking to become the fourth driver to win three straight races here. If he does, he'll join his car owner Jeff Gordon, Rusty Wallace and David Pearson.

"I wouldn't want to bet on that one," said Rusty Wallace, about Johnson's chance at a threepeat. "That's tough. It really is. ... Usually, when you start laying out these numbers and these goals, usually something screws up. Still, he's running great enough. ... I wouldn't put it past him."

Wallace is in need of his own win. He has gone 74 races since his last win in California on April 29, 2001.

"I need a win, there's no doubt about that, and every week I think this is the week," Wallace said. "I thought I'd run well enough to earn the pole here, too, but Ryan ran a little bit better.

"I don't feel any conflict within myself about that. As part owner of his team, I always feel good when he runs good. I want to win all the time, but if I can't, he's the guy I want to get it."

NOTES: Joe Nemechek, driving his No. 87 Chevrolet won the pole for today's MBNA Armed Forces Family 200 Busch Series race. Nemechek ran 156.747 mph. Informed that no pole-sitter since 1986 has won the race, Nemechek said, "Hopefully, we're going to rewrite the record book." ... There will be two Maryland drivers in the Busch race. Donnie Neuenberger, driving the University of Maryland Ford, qualified 30th, and Dion Ciccarelli, driving the State of Montana Ford, made it into the 36-car field at No. 35. Nine drivers failed to qualify. ... In yesterday's Craftsman Truck Series race, Jason Leffler won for the first time in the series. He averaged 97.220 mph to beat Bobby Hamilton to the finish line. ... Brendan Gaughan, a former Georgetown University basketball player, started fourth and finished 18th, after wrecking.


(Car number in parentheses)

1. (12) Ryan Newman, Dodge, 158.716 mph.

2. (2) Rusty Wallace, Dodge, 157.322 mph.

3. (19) Jeremy Mayfield, Dodge, 157.198 mph.

4. (17) Matt Kenseth, Ford, 157.006 mph.

5. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevy, 156.651 mph.

6. (40) Sterling Marlin, Dodge, 156.644 mph.

7. (97) Kurt Busch, Ford, 156.631 mph.

8. (5) Terry Labonte, Chevrolet, 156.583 mph.

9. (24) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 156.087 mph.

10. (30) Steve Park, Chevrolet, 156.033 mph.

11. (20) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 156.027 mph.

12. (8) Dale Earnhardt Jr, Chevy, 155.878 mph.

13. (18) Bobby Labonte, Chevy, 155.858 mph.

14. (9) Bill Elliott, Dodge, 155.858 mph.

15. (16) Greg Biffle, Ford, 155.817 mph.

16. (15) Michael Waltrip, Chevy, 155.655 mph.

17. (38) Elliott Sadler, Ford, 155.581 mph.

18. (01) Mike Wallace, Dodge, 155.400 mph.

19. (42) Jamie McMurray, Dodge, 155.273 mph.

20. (32) Ricky Craven, Pontiac, 155.092 mph.

21. (54) Todd Bodine, Ford, 155.012 mph.

22. (41) Casey Mears, Dodge, 154.999 mph.

23. (29) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 154.985 mph.

24. (21) Ricky Rudd, Ford, 154.925 mph.

25. (49) Ken Schrader, Dodge, 154.905 mph.

26. (77) Dave Blaney, Ford, 154.885 mph.

27. (45) Kyle Petty, Dodge, 154.752 mph.

28. (99) Jeff Burton, Ford, 154.659 mph.

29. (88) Dale Jarrett, Ford, 154.540 mph.

30. (10) Johnny Benson, Pontiac, 154.453 mph.

31. (7) Jimmy Spencer, Dodge, 154.400 mph.

32. (6) Mark Martin, Ford, 154.354 mph.

33. (1) Jeff Green, Chevrolet, 154.248 mph.

34. (11) Brett Bodine, Ford, 153.892 mph.

35. (4) Mike Skinner, Pontiac, 153.748 mph.

36. (23) Kenny Wallace, Dodge, 153.695 mph.

37. (25) Joe Nemechek, Chevrolet, Provisional.

38. (31) Robby Gordon, Chevrolet, Provisional.

39. (22) Ward Burton, Dodge, Provisional.

40. (43) John Andretti, Dodge, Provisional.

41. (0) Jack Sprague, Pontiac, Provisional.

42. (74) Tony Raines, Chevrolet, Provisional.

43. (14) Larry Foyt, Dodge, Provisional.

Failed to qualify

44. (37) Derrike Cope, Chevrolet, 151.178 mph.

45. (02) Hermie Sadler, Pontiac, none-WD.

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