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NASCAR Winston Cup Series Mountain Dew 500 Preview: #98, John Andretti

28 August 1997

 #98 John Andretti, RCA Ford Thunderbird                   
 NASCAR Winston Cup Series
 Mountain Dew Southern 500 Advance
 Darlington Raceway

DARLINGTON, SC - "It doesn't matter where you put the start/finish line at 
Darlington. It will still be and always will be Darlington. They call it the 
track too tough to tame and that is a very appropriate name."

And Cale Yarborough should know.

The legendary driver, now car-owner of the RCA Ford driven by John Andretti, 
won five times at Darlington. He won two poles and shared fastest qualifier 
honors with Charlie Glotzbach in 1968. Glotzbach got to sit on the pole 
because he qualified before Yarborough, but the pair had identical times. 
Yarborough is one of five drivers to have swept events on the famed 
egg-shaped oval - he did it in 1969.

When the NASCAR Winston Cup cars take to the track this weekend, the lady in 
black will have a whole new look. Since racing there in March, the 
front-stretch and back-stretch have been flip-flopped. Unlike Atlanta, where 
not only have the front and back-stretches been flipped, a dog-leg has been 
added on the new front-stretch, altering the length of the track, the shape 
and make-up of Darlington have not been changed.

"Darlington has been Darlington ever since they built it. None of that will 
change Darlington one bit," Yarborough said. "They had to change to allow for 

Expansion is keeping tracks and teams on their toes, with the Winston Cup 
cars traveling to new venues almost every year. This season saw the debut of 
two new tracks - Texas Motor Speedway and California Speedway. Next season 
they will travel to Las Vegas Speedway for the first time. Everybody has an 
opinion about the new tracks and what could have and should have been done 
differently. But, imagine what everyone would think if they saw Darlington 
for the first time in 1997.

"I don't think many people would like it," Yarborough laughed. "There is 
nothing easy about racing at Darlington. Anybody with a Darlington win on 
their record is awful proud of it."

One of the factors that makes the 1.366-mile track one of the circuit's most 
difficult is the increase in technology and thereby speed.

"This track was built (in 1950) to accommodate speeds of 80 miles per hour," 
Yarborough said. "Now they are running twice as fast as that. There is no 
margin for error."

In fact Ward Burton set the track record at Darlington in March of 1996 with 
a lap speed of 173.797 mph.

Andretti is not afraid to admit that he actually likes Darlington. Why would 
he be? After all he won his first career pole in 1995 for the Mountain Dew 
Southern 500 and he comes to Darlington this fall with another pole 
(Talladega) and his first career win under his belt (Daytona).

"I really like Darlington," said Andretti, who has three top-12 finishes, 
including a fifth in this event last year, in just seven races at DR.

And the RCA Racing team is coming off it's best-ever finish at Bristol - 

"That track had been a huge thorn in our sides," said Andretti. "We finished 
11th in a car we'll never be able to use again. The car is so banged up, but 
that's Bristol and this was a big boost for us. We qualified decent enough to 
be on the frontstretch pits and then we go out and get our best finish.

"I'm ready for Darlington."

2-16  Daytona Beach, FL         32     25     63,325   Running      25
2-23  Rockingham, NC            25     34     19,015   Running      32
3-2   Richmond, VA              22     31     20,615   Running      33
3-9   Atlanta, GA               33     15     31,805   Running      28
3-23  Darlington, SC            33     25     21,165   Running      30
4-6   Fort Worth, TX            30     12     80,300   Running      27
4-13  Bristol, TN               26     24     23,490   Running      27
4-20  Martinsville, VA          27     28     19,615   Running      25
5-4   Sonoma, CA                17     30     31,710   Running      26
5-10  Talladega, AL              1      4     57,920   Running      22
5-17  Charlotte, NC **          12      9      7,500   Running  ** Non-Points
5-25  Charlotte, NC             26     30     28,450   Running      24
6-1   Dover, DE                 23     29     25,490   Running      26
6-8   Pocono, PA                 9     40     17,265   Engine       26
6-15  Brooklyn, MI              40     37     21,890   Running      27
6-22  Fontana, CA               35     21     34,975   Running      27
7-5   Daytona Beach, FL          3      1    109,525   Running      24
7-13  Loudon, NH                 8     14     33,425   Accident     22
7-20  Pocono, PA                13     24     21,415   Running      22
8-2   Indianapolis, IN          35     17     80,095   Running      22
8-10  Watkins Glen, NY          30     20     24,885   Running      22
8-17  Brooklyn, MI              25     30     22,490   Running      22
8-23  Bristol, TN               20     11     27,915   Running      22


YEAR   EVENT                 START  FINISH    LAPS     MONEY     STATUS
1997   TranSouth 400           33     25    291/293    21,165    Running
1996   TranSouth 400           35     40     87/293    15,654    Accident
1996   Mtn. Dew Southern 500   15      5    366/367    32,120    Running
1995   TranSouth 400           15     10    292/293    13,980    Running
1995   Mtn. Dew Southern 500    1     12    367/367    24,445    Running
1994   TranSouth 400           18     38    170/293     9,510    Engine
1994   Mtn. Dew Southern 500   29     16    360/367    11,930    Running

By RCA Racing Public Relations