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NASCAR Daytona notebook



Published: Mon, February 10, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



Signatures: NASCAR spent Friday collecting signed copies of its substance abuse policy from drivers and team members -- a requirement before cars are allowed on the track. The four-page document gives the sanctioning body permission to randomly drug test anyone involved in the series. NASCAR tested fewer than a dozen competitors in its top three series last season, said Kevin Triplett, managing director of business operations. The policy has undergone several changes over the past 10 years, but remains the same as the 2002 document, Triplett said. NASCAR prohibits all illegal drugs at any time under the policy; bans the use of alcohol on the day of an event; and warns of the effect of certain prescription and nonprescription medications. Random tests are done when NASCAR has a "reasonable cause" to believe a participant might have violated its policy, Triplett said. A list of signs or symptoms that can lead to a test range from accidents during events, chronic forgetfulness or broken promises and deteriorating personal hygiene or appearance. The strictest part of the policy is the rule on the consumption of alcohol, with a blood alcohol level set at 0.02 percent to be considered under the influence. The limit in Florida, where the season-opening Daytona 500 will be run on Feb. 16, is 0.08.

Evernham-Gordon divorce: Ray Evernham was one of the many car owners who refused to open his books for Brooke Gordon to use in her ongoing divorce suit with four-time Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon. Evernham, Gordon's former crew chief, said the decision was both business and personal. "It was a double-edged sword for me because as a business owner, I have to protect my interests and don't want those things being revealed to my competitors," he said. "But I was also Best Man at their wedding and it's a very awkward situation for me to be in. I care about both of them and I have no dog in this fight." Brooke Gordon's lawyer has asked most of NASCAR's top teams to turn over their contracts with drivers and sponsors to gauge Gordon's estimated worth as a partial car owner at Hendrick Motorsports.

IROC sponsor out: True Value is ending its 19-year sponsorship agreement with the International Race of Champions at the end of the season. IROC said Friday that True Value, owned by parent company TruServ, was pulling out of auto racing because of the realignment of the corporation's marketing investments. True Value joined the IROC series in 1984 as an associate sponsor and became the title sponsor in 1999. The IROC series matches 12 drivers from different forms of auto racing in equally prepared cars. The goal is to eliminate the mechanical advantages and to produce a winner determined solely on driver skill.

Red light: NASCAR's new garage access policy went into effect for the first time Friday when officials cleared the garage of guests and fans lacking proper credentials 30 minutes before the cars went on the track. A half-hour before the cars scheduled to take part in tonight's Budweiser Shootout went out for the first on-track appearance of 2003 for Winston Cup cars, red lights above each entrance and affixed to several of the team haulers in the garage area began to flash. About a dozen security people and police made a sweep through the garage compound, but there were few people without the required "hot passes" or NASCAR season credentials. A bigger test of the new policy is expected before the Shootout and prior to pole qualifying Sunday for the Daytona 500.

Slow look: The first technical inspection of the season always takes extra time, but Friday's Winston Cup tech line was unusually slow because of the new templates being used on all makes. "Things are actually going pretty good," said Gary Nelson, NASCAR's managing director of competition. "They got all the Shootout cars through with about half an hour to spare [before the first practice] and they should be done with everybody by 8 o'clock." The inspections began at 7 a.m. and by 11 a.m., the waiting line stretched for several hundred yards through the garage area. This year, each car, whether Chevrolet, Ford, Dodge or Pontiac, must fit 32 different templates, including 18 that are the same for all makes. Both Chevrolet and Pontiac are introducing new models this season. "It's slow," said Andy Graves, team manager for Chip Ganassi Racing. "There's no major problem, though. "The new templates are interlocking, and it just depends on how they're held whether you get through or not. The guys back at the shop may have just held them a little different."

-- Associated Press




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