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Winston Cup Series

Wednesday, February 5

2003 Winston Cup team capsules
Associated Press

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- A look at the teams competing in NASCAR's Winston Cup series this season:

A.J. Foyt Racing:
No. 14 Dodge, LARRY FOYT -- A.J. Foyt, a four-time Indianapolis 500 winner, overhauled his NASCAR team and put his 25-year-old son behind the wheel. ... Larry Foyt spent past two seasons in Busch Series, posting just two top-10 finishes in that time. ... He'll compete for rookie of the year, but is a longshot for that title.

BACE Motorsports:
No. 74 Chevrolet, TONY RAINES -- A former Busch Series rookie of the year, the 38-year-old Raines plans to run a full Winston Cup schedule and compete for top rookie. ... Has no primary sponsor. ... Also plans to run 10 Busch Series races.

BAM Racing:
No. 49 Dodge, KEN SCHRADER -- First season together. ... Schrader finished 30th in the points last season in a car fielded by MB2 Motorsports. ... Was hired at the end of the year by Beth Ann Morgenthau, the only female car owner in Winston Cup. ... BAM started last season with Shawna Robinson as driver, and used five others while running only 17 races.

BelCar Motorsports:
No. 54 Ford, TODD BODINE -- Bodine ran 24 races last season for Travis Carter. ... Finished 38th in the points. ... Sam Belnavis, the first black owner in NASCAR to attempt to run a full schedule, bought a majority interest in Carter's team last month, bringing sponsor Army National Guard to the financially troubled operation. ... Belnavis will run the business side; Carter, a former crew chief, will run the competition.

Bill Davis Racing:
No. 22 Dodge, WARD BURTON -- Burton won season-opening Daytona 500 last year, but everything went downhill from there, with nine DNFs. ... Longtime crew chief Tommy Baldwin split with the team midway through the year. ... Finished 25th in the points. ... Expected to turn it around this year under new crew chief Frank Stoddard and at least match his two wins last season.

Car No. 23 Dodge, KENNY WALLACE -- Wallace replaced Hut Stricklin in the car last year, running 11 races. ... Had two finishes of 13th or better in the last three races. ... Not expected to be as strong as Burton's team, but has potential to put together solid runs.

Brett Bodine Racing:
No. 11 Ford, BRETT BODINE -- One of few owner-drivers still left on the circuit. ... Bodine finished 36th in the final point standings. ... It's unclear how much sponsorship money he has, so a partial schedule of just 20-25 races might be in the horizon.

Chip Ganassi Racing:
No. 40 Dodge, STERLING MARLIN -- Marlin's career took off when Ganassi bought the team two years ago. ... Could have won Daytona 500, but was penalized for climbing out of his car under a red-flag and pulling on his fender. ... Won two races last season and led the point standings for 25 consecutive weeks before being forced out of the car with a neck injury. ... Missed final seven races and ended up 18th in the points. ... Now fully healed, should be a championship contender again this season.

No. 41 Dodge, CASEY MEARS -- A 24-year-old rookie with just one year of stock car experience in the Busch Series last season. ... Has a rich racing heritage -- his uncle is a four-time Indianapolis 500 winner and his father is a former off-road racing star -- and is driving for one of the strongest organizations in Winston Cup. ... Could run up front at times this season, but could also have a long learning year.

No. 42 Dodge, JAMIE McMURRAY -- Another Ganassi rookie, the 26-year-old McMurray is ahead of teammate Mears in experience with six Cup races under his belt from last year as Marlin's injury replacement. ... Set a NASCAR record by winning in his second career start and has shown enormous potential. ... Should contend for rookie of the year and might win a race or two.

Dale Earnhardt Inc. (DEI):
No. 1 Chevrolet, STEVE PARK -- Missed the first four races of last year while recovering from a head injury suffered late in the 2001 season. ... Struggled through a long stretch to get back to the level he was at before the injury and was plagued by rumors his contract would not be renewed. ... Put together decent runs near end of year, finished 33rd in the standings and got a one-year deal to stay with DEI though 2003. ... In a make-or-break season this year with DEI.

No. 8 Chevrolet, DALE EARNHARDT JR. -- Won both races at Talladega, but finished a disappointing 11th in the points after being picked as a preseason championship contender. ... DEI didn't have a single driver finish in Top 10 in standings, and as the heir to the company, is expected to challenge for the title every season. ... Signed a five-year deal with DEI last month and should be the leader of the three-car team.

No. 15 Chevrolet, MICHAEL WALTRIP -- Won the Pepsi 400 at Daytona in July, just the second win of his Winston Cup career. ... The other was the 2001 Daytona 500, his first race with DEI, when boss and friend Dale Earnhardt was killed in a wreck. ... Finished 14th in the points, but was most consistent DEI driver all season. ... Signed contract extension last year, and stability should make this a strong team.

Evernham Motorsports:
No. 9 Dodge, BILL ELLIOTT -- Won consecutive races in July and August, including the Brickyard 400 to give him wins in all of NASCAR's biggest events. ... Finished 13th in points after struggling with consistency and mechanical failures at end of year. ... The strength of former crew chief Ray Evernham's operation should be one of the best Dodge teams this year and shooting to finish in the Top 10 in points.

No. 19 Dodge, JEREMY MAYFIELD -- Finished 26th in his first season with Evernham. ... Struggled to find chemistry even after midseason crew chief change. ... Crew was again shuffled in offseason, giving entire operation hope the team can be as strong as Elliott's this season.

Haas CNC Racing:
No. 0 Pontiac, JACK SPRAGUE -- Sprague, a three-time NASCAR Trucks Series champion is making the move to Winston Cup. ... At 38, he'll compete for rookie of the year. ... Could make it an interesting battle with Raines, another veteran running for rookie, and the M&M Boys from Ganassi.

Hendrick Motorsports:
No. 5 Chevrolet, TERRY LABONTE -- Two-time Winston Cup champion, finished 24th in the points last season. ... Hasn't won a race since 1999, but with consistency, could climb in the standings. ... Making his 25th start in the Daytona 500 this year.

No. 24 Chevrolet, JEFF GORDON -- Coming off a year of personal turmoil and professional struggle, four-time Winston Cup champion finished fourth in points. ... Won three races, but didn't reach victory lane until August. ... Always a contender for the title, is one of the few cars with a legitimate chance to win each week.

No. 25 Chevrolet, JOE NEMECHEK -- A midseason replacement for Jerry Nadeau. ... Started to click with team at end of year and finished second in two of the final four races of the season. ... Could be a consistent team this year and finally be as strong as a Hendrick car is supposed to be.

No. 48 Chevrolet, JIMMIE JOHNSON -- Won three races. ... Became first Winston Cup rookie to lead points standings before finishing fifth at end of season. ... Lost to Ryan Newman in a close battle for rookie of the year. ... Could be a title contender or could suffer through a sophomore slump.

Jasper Motorsports:
No. 77 Ford, DAVE BLANEY -- One of the few single-car teams, Blaney put together strong runs at times last year but finished 19th in points. ... Was thought to be a candidate to drive for Ganassi, but is still at Jasper with new crew chief Robert Barker and new key personnel.

Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR):
No. 18 Chevrolet, BOBBY LABONTE -- Was 2000 Winston Cup champion. ... Had a disappointing year and finished 16th in standings. ... Had one victory, at Martinsville in April, for his first-ever short track win. ... Longtime crew chief Jimmy Makar has moved up to team manager and Michael ``Fatback'' McSwain takes over as team tries to return to top form. ... Switched to Chevrolet this season from Pontiac.

No. 20 Chevrolet, TONY STEWART -- Defending Winston Cup champion. ... Stewart could be a runaway winner this year if he eliminates off-track problems and on-track mishaps. ... Had six DNFs last season, including the season-opening Daytona 500, when his engine blew on the second lap. ... Known equally for his talent as well as his temper, has undergone anger management classes and cut back his extracurricular racing schedule in hopes for stress-free season. ... Switched to Chevrolet this season from Pontiac.

MB2/MBV Motorsports:
No. 01 Pontiac, JERRY NADEAU -- Gone from last year are the car number (36) and the driver (Schrader) as Nadeau signs on for his first season. ... Filled in for teammate Johnny Benson last season when Benson was out with injury. ... In a car sponsored by the U.S. Army, has a demanding role as spokesman and visited troops in Afghanistan over the winter.

No. 10 Pontiac, JOHNNY BENSON -- Won first race of his career in November at Rockingham and showed sings at the end of the year of being able to run near the front each week. ... Missed five races with injuries and finished 29th in standings. ... The top Pontiac team after the Gibbs defection.

Morgan-McClure Motorsports:
No. 4 Pontiac, MIKE SKINNER -- Skinner back for second season with Virginia-based single-car team. ... Finished 31st in points last season with just one Top 10 finish. ... Was among the fastest cars at Daytona testing, so could be strong on superspeedways this season. ... Changed from Chevrolet to Pontiac this year.

Penske Racing South:
No. 2 Dodge, RUSTY WALLACE -- Failed to win a race last year, breaking his streak of 16 consecutive years with at least one victory. ... Could have won at Bristol, but was bumped out of the lead by Gordon with one lap to go. ... Finished second to Elliott at the Brickyard, had 17 Top 10 runs and ended up seventh in points. ... Switching from Ford to Dodge this year while looking to break winless drought and match results of younger teammate.

No. 12 Dodge, RYAN NEWMAN -- The top rookie last season. ... Newman won at New Hampshire as well as The Winston, finished in the Top 10 22 times, had a rookie record six poles and finished sixth in final standings. ... Expected to be one of the top Dodge teams this year, Newman could also contend for the Winston Cup title.

Petty Enterprises:
No. 43 Dodge, JOHN ANDRETTI -- Finished 28th in the standings last year with just one Top 10 finish. ... Went back and forth most of the year over a contract extension, finally agreeing to a new deal in December. ... Could run in Indianapolis 500 this year, which Petty wouldn't allow him to do last year.

No. 45 Dodge, KYLE PETTY -- Was most improved of the Petty organization last year, although the family owned business still lags behind most of the top teams. ... Was 22nd in final standings, is not yet ready to give up racing to run the company full time. ... Is also trying to field a third car for CART star Christian Fittipaldi, but doesn't have sponsorship yet to commit to any events.

PPI Motorsports (PPI):
No. 32 Pontiac, RICKY CRAVEN -- One of the best single-car teams. ... Considered expanding to two cars in 2003, but stuck with Craven in its only entry. ... Moved from Ford to Pontiac and should get substantial factory support, enough to contend for wins and improve on 15th place finish.

Quest Motorsports:
No. 37 Dodge, DERRIKE COPE -- The 1990 Daytona 500 winner. ... Cope is trying to run a full schedule with Friendly's as sponsor. ... Ran in just seven races last year, spending much of the season as a broadcaster. ... Was seriously injured in September in a Busch Series race at Richmond.

Richard Childress Racing (RCR):
No. 29 Chevrolet, KEVIN HARVICK -- Went through a sophomore slump last season and missed the spring race at Martinsville when NASCAR parked him for rough driving. ... Successfully defended his win at Chicago, had eight Top 10 finishes, and ended up 21st in the standings. ... The strength of RCR should be clicking with crew he was given midway through the year in RCR shake-up.

No. 30 Chevrolet, JEFF GREEN -- The most consistent of the three RCR cars last season. ... Finished 17th in the points. ... Had four top-five finishes. ... Has new crew chief in Mike Beam.

No. 31 Chevrolet, ROBBY GORDON -- Finished 20th in the points and had five top-five finishes. ... Had a few clashes with competitors during the season. ... Showed on-track progress and benefited greatly when he got Harvick's crew in the midseason shake-up.

Robert Yates Racing (RYR):
No. 38 Ford, ELLIOTT SADLER -- Sadler replaces Ricky Rudd and the car number changes from 28 to 38 with a new sponsor in M&M's. ... Sadler, one of the more colorful characters in NASCAR, has just one career victory and will have to show production with one of the top teams in racing. ... Finished 23rd in points last year with the Wood Brothers.

No. 88 Ford, DALE JARRETT -- The 1999 Winston Cup champion. ... Jarrett gets a new crew chief this year in Brad Parrott, who takes over for brother, Todd, who moved to team manager. ... Finished ninth in the points last year with two victories and 18 Top 10s. ... One of the strongest teams every week.

Roush Racing:
No. 6 Ford, MARK MARTIN -- Finished second in the points for fourth time in career. ... Won Coca-Cola 600 and had 22 Top 10 finishes. ... Lost championship by 38 points, and was docked 25 before the season-finale for an illegal part two weeks before. ... Owner Jack Roush appealed, but lost, and the process took attention away from Martin's superb season. ... Should be strong again this year, but not likely to be strongest Roush car.

No. 16 Ford, GREG BIFFLE -- Biffle gave Roush his first NASCAR championship last season by winning the Busch Series title. ... Most logical pick to win rookie of the year this season, but quiet demeanor and wealth of talent at Roush Racing gets him lost in the shuffle.

No. 17 Ford, MATT KENSETH -- Won a series-high five races last year, but inconsistency and mechanical failures cost him. ... Finished eighth in the points. ... Expected to contend for the championship this year.

No. 97 Ford, KURT BUSCH -- The hottest driver at the end of the year by winning three of the final five races and four overall. ... A brash young driver, he proved how aggressive he is by clashing with veteran Jimmy Spencer and at least three trips to the NASCAR hauler for disciplinary reasons. ... Could challenge for the title this season, as well as battle Kenseth for top honors at Roush.

No. 99, JEFF BURTON -- The only Roush driver who didn't win a race last season. ... Finished 12th in the standings in a year he was expected to compete for the title. ... Crew chief Frank Stoddard is gone, replaced by Paul Andrews and is expected to bounce back and run for wins this year.

Ultra Motorsports:
No. 7 Dodge, JIMMY SPENCER -- Everything is new, with Ray Evernham out as partial owner and Jimmy Spencer replacing Casey Atwood as the driver. ... Spencer finished 27th last year while driving for Ganassi, never recovering from missing the season-opening Daytona 500. ... Was abruptly fired in November and caught on with car owner Jim Smith at Ultra. ... Tommy Baldwin is crew chief.

Wood Brothers Racing:
No. 21 Ford, RICKY RUDD -- One of the oldest teams in NASCAR, the Wood Brothers of Virginia are hoping Rudd can bring the team back to the prominence. ... Rudd, coming off a bizarre year of off-track distractions with Yates, finished 10th in standings and won one race. ... A change of scenery will do him good. ... No. 21 should be back among the leaders at end of year.

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