NASCAR WCUP: Crew Chief Club at the Daytona 500

4 February 1999

Event: Daytona 500 When: Sun., Feb. 14 at 12:15 p.m. EST on CBS

Where: Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway (2.5-mile oval)

Together, Jimmy Makar, Larry McReynolds, Todd Parrott and Robin Pemberton have led their drivers to 65 wins, 350 top-five finishes, 560 top-10 finishes and 65 poles prior to this year's Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.

McReynolds and Dale Earnhardt won the 1998 race in 2 hours, 53 minutes and 42 seconds with an average speed of 172.712 mph. It was Earnhardt's first win in 20 attempts at winning the Daytona 500.

Makar and Labonte are the defending pole winners of the Daytona 500. Labonte captured the Bud Pole Award with a time of 46.774 seconds at an average speed of 192.415 mph over older brother Terry Labonte.

The Crew Chief Club has four wins and three poles in the historic February event. The wins were provided by McReynolds and Earnhardt in 1998, Parrott and Dale Jarrett in 1996, Makar and Jarrett in 1993 and McReynolds and Davey Allison in 1992. The poles were provided by Makar and Labonte in 1998, McReynolds and Jarrett in 1995 and Pemberton and Kyle Petty in 1993.

The Crew Chief Club has two clean sweeps during the Daytona 500 weekend. In 1998 Makar and Labonte won the pole and McReynolds and Earnhardt went on to win the race; and in 1993, Pemberton and Petty won the pole while Makar and Jarrett won the race.

In last year's Daytona 500, the Crew Chief Club finished in the following order:

McReynolds/Earnhardt Start: 4th Finish: 1st Status: Running
Makar/Labonte Start: 1st Finish: 2nd Status: Running
Pemberton/Wallace Start: 12th Finish: 5th Status: Running
Parrott/Jarrett Start: 5th Finish: 34th Status: Running

The Crew Chief Club will be signing autographs on Sat., Feb. 13, from 6:30p.m. to 7:30 p.m. EST on the Chevrolet and Ford souvenir trailers. Crew Chief Club souvenirs and wearables are available on both trailers. Fans can also log-on to the Crew Chief Club at their official website, www.crewchiefclub.com.

COMPARED TO THIS TIME LAST YEAR, HOW CONFIDENT ARE YOU IN YOUR PREPARATIONS FOR THE DAYTONA 500?

Jimmy Makar - Interstate Batteries Pontiac of Bobby Labonte - "I feel a lot more confident going into the 1999 Daytona 500 than I did going into the 1998 Daytona 500. We have a year's worth of experience behind us to where we've made some major gains in our speedway program, and feel like we have a competitive race car. We're taking the same car we had last year, and a new one that is as good as the first one to run in the Shootout. We've worked very hard this winter with building a new shop and starting a second team. So, we've been a little bit distracted, but I think we have good race cars to take down there."

Larry McReynolds - Lowe's Home Improvement Chevrolet of Mike Skinner - "Even though I'm with a different team than I was last year, I'm still with the same organization. The Richard Childress Racing engine program for Daytona seems good, our car program seems good and we tested well. Probably the biggest vote of confidence I have is the way this team performed in the Daytona race under the lights in October. Mike has matured in his knowledge of drafting and where to put his car as well as when. So, I believe that this team's odds are as good as anyone else's. We have the same package that we had a year ago when we won with Dale. I feel good about the 500, and I'm anxious to see where we stack up."

Todd Parrott - Ford Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Ford of Dale Jarrett - "I am very confident in our preparations for this year's Daytona 500. Our test sessions went very well, and I feel we have as good a shot at winning the race as we did in 1996."

Robin Pemberton - Miller Lite Ford of Rusty Wallace - "We're very confident this year compared to any year in the past. We've got a good shot at winning, especially since our test went so well. We've been improving at the speedways the past few races, and I think we've got a legitimate shot at this one."

MUCH IS MADE OF HAVING A STRONG RUN IN THE DAYTONA 500 SO THAT YOU START YOUR SEASON ON A HIGH NOTE. IN REALITY, HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO HAVE A STRONG RUN IN THE 500 AS OPPOSED TO A 30TH PLACE RUN?

Jimmy Makar: "Everyone's been working all winter to get ready for the first race of the season. Everyone's slate is wiped clean, and nobody's any better than anybody else when we go to Daytona. To start the year with a good finish does a lot to pump up the expectations of your team, and of what's going to happen during the year. When you go down there and do well, everybody stays pumped up and that momentum will carry you a few races. If you're fortunate enough to win the race, that momentum carries you quite a way into the season. There's quite a bit of money and prestige that goes with this event. It's an important event. Everybody's been off of the racing mode for a long time over the winter. We haven't had any races to go to and prepare for in quite some time, so everybody's chomping at the bit. This is the big show."

Larry McReynolds: "I think it helps to start strong because it builds momentum, and it puts you in a good points situation. In 1992, we won the Daytona 500 with Davey Allison and it seemed that nothing could go wrong. It was way into mid-season before we finished out of the top-five. We had a similar situation in 1994 with Ernie Irvan. We finished second at Daytona and we raced all the way to Bristol (Tenn.) before we were out of the top-five. Contrary to that, a year ago we won the race with Dale (Earnhardt), but from there on we couldn't do nothing right. But I really think that when you come home after being there for 11 days and you had a good run, it puts spunk in your whole race team. You know all the hard work during the winter paid off. It wasn't done in vain. The worst thing to happen is you put in all the work and you get in a wreck or lose an engine in the first few laps. That knocks the wind out of your sails in a hurry."

Todd Parrott: "It's very important to do well in the first race of the season. We had a strong run there in 1996 and won the race, then went on to finish third in the point standings. In fact, we actually led the point standings for six or seven races that season - which was our rookie year. That all stemmed from winning the Daytona 500. Having a strong run enables you to stay in the running for the championship. Once you start out behind, it is very hard to catch up with the competition the way it is in our sport."

Robin Pemberton: "It is important to do well because you don't want to start your season down, and then have to fight your way up the ladder the whole year. It's easy to get down 100 points, but it's tough to try to catch up."

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