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Thursday, February 13
Driver capsules for Daytona 500
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Capsules of the 43 drivers in Sunday's Daytona 500, in starting order with car number in parentheses, age, hometown, make of car and biographical information:
1. (30) Jeff Green, 40, Owensboro, Ky., Chevrolet. Was surprise pole winner with lap of 186.606 mph. Busch series champion in 2000, drove first full season with Richard Childress Racing in 2002, finishing 17th in points. Best finish second in July in New Hampshire. Finished 19th last year in first Daytona 500.
2. (8) Dale Earnhardt Jr., 28, Kannapolis, N.C., Chevrolet. Locked up outside pole in qualifying. Still, son of seven-time Winston Cup champion won his qualifying race Thursday. Two-time Busch series champion won twice last year on the way to 11th-place finish in third Winston Cup season. Finished second in Rookie of Year competition in 2000. Flat tire and crash relegated him to 29th in last year's Daytona 500. Drives for Dale Earnhardt, Inc., company founded by his father.
3. (31) Robby Gordon, 34, Cerritos, Calif., Chevrolet. Starting second full season with Richard Childress Racing. Won first 125-mile qualifying race Thursday to earn third position on grid. Got only Winston Cup victory in 2001 season-finale in New Hampshire while subbing for injured Mike Skinner in a Childress entry. Led Indianapolis 500 in 1999 until running out of gas with less than two laps left. Making sixth start in Daytona 500, coming off 13th-place finish last year.
4. (15) Michael Waltrip, 39, Owensboro, Ky., Chevrolet. Won Daytona 500 in 2001 and finished fifth last year. Has seven top-10 finishes in 16 starts. Was winless in 462 career starts before Daytona win. Added second win in 2002 Pepsi 400. Younger brother of retired three-time Winston Cup champion Darrell Waltrip. In third year with Dale Earnhardt Inc.
5. (21) Ricky Rudd, 46, Chesapeake, Va., Ford. Has 10 top-10 finishes in 25 Daytona 500 starts. Best finish was third in 1981. He was 38th last year. Has 23 career victories, including at least one in 16 straight seasons. Rookie of the Year in 1977. Left Robert Yates Racing after three seasons to join Wood Brothers.
6. (54) Todd Bodine, 38, Chemung, N.Y., Ford. Finished 31st last year in third Daytona 500 start. Started 24 races in 2002, with best finish of fifth at Richmond. Was 38th in season points. Missed final race of season with back injury and had offseason surgery. Best career finish of third in 1994 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Starting first season with BelCar Racing.
7. (40) Sterling Marlin, 45, Columbia, Tenn., Dodge. Won Daytona 500 in 1994-95. Rookie of the Year in 1983, son of former NASCAR star Coo Coo Marlin. Victory at Daytona in 1994 was first of 10 in career. Finished eighth last year in 21th Daytona 500. Was sent to pits for penalty after pulling bent fender away from tire during late red-lag stop. In sixth season with Chip Ganassi Racing. Led Winston Cup points for 25 weeks last season, but missed races at end of year with broken vertebrae.
8. (2) Rusty Wallace, 47, St. Louis, Ford. Has eight top-10 finishes in 20 Daytona 500s, including career best third in 2001. Was 18th last year. Went winless in 2002 but has 54 career victories, second among active drivers to Jeff Gordon. Rookie of Year in 1984 and series champion in 1989. In 12th season driving for Penske Racing South.
9. (99) Jeff Burton, 35, South Boston, Va., Ford. Making 10th Daytona 500 start, with best finish of second in 2000. Finished 12th last year. The Rookie of the Year in 1994. Last season first without victory in six years. Has 17 victories overall. Finished 12th in season standings. In eighth season driving for Roush Racing.
10. (20) Tony Stewart, 31, Rushville, Ind., Chevrolet. Despite finishing last in 2002 Daytona 500, Stewart went on to win first Winston Cup championship. The 1999 Rookie of the Year won three races last year for Joe Gibbs Racing. Has finished no better than 17th in four Daytona 500 starts. Drove Pontiacs in his first four seasons with Gibbs.
11. (88) Dale Jarrett, 46, Hickory, N.C., Ford. Three-time Daytona 500 champion. Making 15th start in race. Was 14th last year. Has 30 career victories, including two in 2002. In ninth year with Robert Yates Racing, for whom he won 1999 Winston Cup championship. Son of two-time NASCAR champion Ned Jarrett.
12. (48) Jimmie Johnson, 27, El Cajon, Calif. Chevrolet. Last year's Daytona polesitter had a sensational first year in 2002, winning three races, becoming the first rookie to lead the points and finished fifth in standings. Lost close race with Ryan Newman for Rookie of the Year. Finished 15th in first Daytona 500. Protege of four-time series champion Jeff Gordon, who co-owns Johnson's car with Rick Hendrick.
13. (24) Jeff Gordon, 31, Pittsboro, Ind., Chevrolet. Two-time Daytona 500 winner and four-time Winston Cup champion. Making 11th Daytona 500 start. Finished ninth here last year. Won three races and finished fourth in points in 2002. Leads active drivers with 61 victories, which is seventh best overall. In 10th season with Hendrick Motorsports.
14. (43) John Andretti, 39, Indianapolis, Dodge. Making 10th Daytona 500 start. Finished 37th here last year. Won 24-hour sports car race at Daytona in 1989 and got first of two Winston Cup career victories on track in 1997 in Pepsi 400, his 110th career start. Nephew of racing great Mario Andretti. In fifth season with Petty Enterprises.
15. (25) Joe Nemechek, 39, Naples, Fla., Chevrolet. Making ninth Daytona 500 start. Finished 40th last year. Former Busch series champ and Rookie of Year. Drove 33 races for three teams in 2002, including 25 with current team, Hendrick Motorsports. Had two second-place finishes for Hendrick.
16. (9) Bill Elliott, 47, Dawsonville, Ga., Dodge. The 1988 Winston Cup champion won Daytona 500 in 1985 and 1987, has four poles for the race and 13 top-10 finishes in 24 starts. Finished 11th last year. Has 43 career victories. Won consecutive races at Pocono and Indianapolis last year. Ended 266-race winless string in 2001 in Homestead, Fla. Third season with Evernham Motorsports.
17. (22) Ward Burton, 41, South Boston, Va., Dodge. Led last five laps on way to win last year in eighth Daytona 500 start. Has five career victories, including two last year. Ninth year with Bill Davis Racing. Second to brother Jeff in 1994 Rookie of Year competition.
18. (38) Elliott Sadler, 27, Emporia, Va., Ford. Making fifth Daytona 500 appearance, coming off second-place finish last year. Only career win came at Bristol in 2001. Making first start for Robert Yates Racing after four years with Wood Brothers.
19. (42) Jamie McMurray, 26, Joplin, Mo., Dodge. Set Winston Cup record by recording victory in fall Charlotte race, his second series start while subbing for injured Sterling Marlin. Won his first Busch series race the next week in Atlanta. Rookie of the Year candidate ran six races in 2002. Starting first full season for Chip Ganassi Racing.
20. (09) Mike Wallace, 43, St. Louis, Dodge. Returned to Winston Cup in 2001 after three seasons in truck series, where he had four wins in 92 races. Drove total of 21 races for Andy Petree and A.J. Foyt in 2002, with one top-10 finish. Making seventh start in Daytona 500 with best finish of sixth in 2001. Finished 21st last year. Driving first race for James Finch.
21. (23) Kenny Wallace, 39, St. Louis, Dodge. Drove total of 21 races last season for six different teams, including 10 with Bill Davis Racing. Starting first full season with Davis team. Has 26 top-10 finishes in 264 starts, including career-best second in 1999 in Loudon, N.H. Making eighth Daytona 500 start with no finish better than 21st. Finished 30th here last year, subbing for injured Steve Park.
22. (19) Jeremy Mayfield, 33, Owensboro, Ky., Dodge. Has three top-10 finishes in nine Daytona 500s with best of third in 1998. Finished 39th in 2001. Starting second season with Evernham Motorsports.
23. (7) Jimmy Spencer, 46, Berwick, Pa., Dodge. Making 11th Daytona 500 start after failing to make race in 2002. Best finish 11th in 1996. Spencer moved to Ultra Motorsports after being fired at end of year by Chip Ganassi. Was 27th in points last season. Has two victories in 404 starts, both in 1994. First win came in Pepsi 400 at Daytona.
24. (18) Bobby Labonte, 38, Corpus Christi, Texas, Chevrolet. Winston Cup champion in 2000 is making 11th Daytona 500 start. Best finish second from pole in 1998. Was 34th last year. Has 19 career victories, including one last season. In eighth year with Joe Gibbs Racing, which switched from Pontiacs after last season.
25. (32) Ricky Craven, 36, Newburgh, Maine, Pontiac. The 1995 Rookie of the Year had career-best 15th-place finish in points last year, his second with PPI Motorsports. Only career victory came in 2001 in Martinsville, Va. Came back from serious head injury in 1998. Now has 14 top-five finishes in career, including third in 1997 Daytona 500. Finished 17th here last year in seventh start.
26. (0) Jack Sprague, 38, Spring Lake, Mich., Pontiac. Only three-time champion in Craftsman Truck series and fifth-place finish in Busch series last year, winning a race at Nashville. Will compete for Rookie of the Year with new Haas CNC Racing team in conjunction with Hendrick Motorsports. Making seventh Winston Cup start and first at Daytona.
27. (16) Greg Biffle, 33, Vancouver, Wash., Ford. Rookie of the Year candidate for Roush Racing made seven starts for three teams last year, with best finish 13th at California Speedway. Has been top rookie in both Busch and Craftsman Truck series and won championships in both, including 2002 Busch title for owner Jack Roush.
28. (6) Mark Martin, 44, Batesville, Ark., Ford. Making 19th Daytona 500 appearance, with best finish of third in 1995. Finished sixth here last year. Has 33 career victories, including Coca-Cola 600 last year. Four-time series runner-up after losing title by 38 points to Tony Stewart. In 16th season with Roush Racing.
29. (41) Casey Mears, 24, Bakersfield, Calif., Dodge. Nephew of four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Rick Mears and son of off-road star Roger Mears will vie for Rookie of the Year after one season in Busch series. Finished 21st in Busch series with one top-five finish. Came to stock cars from CART, where he had two top-10 finishes in four starts, including fourth at California Speedway. Completed rookie test for Indy 500 in 2000 but failed to make field. Drives for Chip Ganassi.
30. (49) Ken Schrader, 46, Fenton, Mo., Dodge. Three-time Daytona 500 polesitter has 10 top-10 finishes in 18 starts. Best finish was second in 1989. Finished 26th last year. Has four career victories but none since 1991. The 1985 Rookie of the Year. In first year with BAM Racing.
31. (29) Kevin Harvick, 27, Bakersfield, Calif., Chevrolet. Started second and finished 36th in first Daytona 500 start. Replaced Dale Earnhardt in Richard Childress Racing entry after seven-time champion was killed in 2001 Daytona 500. Went on to win two races and Rookie of the Year, as well as taking Busch series championship. Won just once and slumped to 21st in points last season.
32. (45) Kyle Petty, 42, Randleman, N.C., Dodge. Won Daytona 500 pole in 1993 but has only two top-10 finishes in 21 starts. Was 41st last year. First third-generation Winston Cup racer, following grandfather Lee and father Richard. Got last of eight career wins in 1995. Sixth year as owner-driver for Petty Enterprises.
33. (1) Steve Park, 35, East Northport, N.Y., Chevrolet. Best finish 31st in four Daytona 500 starts. Was 33rd in season points last year after missing first four races due to lingering injury. Has two career wins in 146 starts, the last in 2001 in Homestead, Fla. Has been honored as one of 50 greatest modified drivers.
34. (74) Tony Raines, 38, LaPort, Ind., Chevrolet. Former Busch series Rookie of the Year will run for rookie honors in Winston Cup. Making his first Daytona 500 start.
35. (33) Christian Fittipaldi, 33, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Chevrolet. Nephew of former Formula One and CART champion and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Emerson Fittipaldi, moves to stock cars from open-wheel racing. Has driven in Formula One and CART, finishing second in the 1995 Indy 500 and winning two CART events. Made NASCAR debut for Petty Enterprises last fall in Phoenix, and crashed out in 41st place. Scheduled to drive partial schedules in Winston Cup and ARCA in 2003 for Petty, although running in Daytona for Andy Petree Racing.
36. (17) Matt Kenseth, 30, Cambridge, Wis., Ford. Rookie of Year in 2000 makes fourth start in race after 10th-place finish in 2000, 21st in 2001 and 33rd last year. Led Winston Cup series with five victories last year and finished career-best eighth in points. Fourth year driving car co-owned by Mark Martin and Jack Roush.
37. (97) Kurt Busch, 24, Las Vegas, Ford. Hottest driver in series at year's end with three wins in last five races and four overall. Finished third in season points. Fourth in second Daytona 500 start. Was top rookie and second-place finisher in Craftsman Truck series in 2000. Starting third season with Roush Racing.
38. (12) Ryan Newman, 25, South Bend, Ind., Ford. Won Rookie of the Year honors with sensational season featuring one victory and rookie record 22 top-10 finishes in 36 races. Led Winston Cup series with six poles and finished sixth in points. Former U.S. Auto Club short track champion. Graduate of Purdue University. Finished seventh in first Daytona 500. Drives for Penske Racing South.
39. (77) Dave Blaney, 40, Sharon, Pa., Ford. Best finish of ninth in three Daytona 500 starts. Was 26th last year. Finished career-best 19th in season points and was highest finisher without top-five. Starting second season with Jasper Motorsports.
40. (10) Johnny Benson Jr., 39, Grand Rapids, Mich., Pontiac. The 1996 Rookie of the Year after winning the Busch title previous season. Finished career-best 10th last year in sixth Daytona 500 start. Miss five races with two different injuries, but won for the first time in fall race in Rockingham. Season points finish of 29th was career worst. Starting third full season with MBV Motorsports.
41. (5) Terry Labonte, 46, Corpus Christi, Texas, Chevrolet. Winston Cup champion in 1984 and 1996. Has 12 top-10 finishes in 24 Daytona 500 starts. Finished 20th last year. Winless last three years but has career total of 21. In 10th season driving for Hendrick Motorsports.
42. (01) Jerry Nadeau, 32, Danbury, Conn., Pontiac. Finished 28th last year in fifth Daytona 500 start. Has one career victory. Drove for three different teams in 2002 and is starting first season with MB2 Motorsports.
43. (4) Mike Skinner, 45, Susanville, Calif., Pontiac. Became just third rookie in history to win Daytona 500 pole, in 1997, and finished 12th. Making seventh start in race. The 1997 Winston Cup Rookie of Year. Finished 23rd at Daytona last year. Seeking first career victory in 204th start. Second season with Morgan-McClure Motorsports.