Originally created 02/12/99

Marcis qualifies for 500, goes after 'idiot' Irvan



DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Dave Marcis leaped from his car, walking quickly through a mass of people, parked cars and equipment.

His quest? Find Ernie Irvan.

This was minutes after Thursday's second Twin-125 mile qualifying race at Daytona International Speedway, minutes after what Marcis perceived as a dangerous, unnecessary maneuver by Irvan late in a race to decide part of the field for Sunday's Daytona 500.

Marcis made it to Irvan's car. No Irvan.

Instead, he turned and spoke to reporters, calling Irvan a menace and questioning not only Irvan's driving yesterday, but in practice this week and various times last season.

"The guy's a menace out there," said Marcis, who made the field based on qualifying time -- his record 32nd consecutive Daytona 500. "He's an idiot with capital letters. The man does not belong on the racetrack. You don't put people's lives in jeopardy.

"What he did was uncalled for. He about wrecked some other cars in practice this week."

At issue was an incident that Marcis said occurred on Lap 38 of the 50-lap race. Marcis said the two were side by side entering Turn 3, and that Irvan drove low through the grass -- on the apron -- on the inside of the track.

Marcis figured he had a choice: let Irvan back in line on the track, or have Irvan wreck.

"He'd have wrecked himself, me and everybody around us," he said. "He ran on the apron all the way to the third turn. I backed off and hit the brake to let him come in the hole. Had I not done that, he'd have wrecked. I don't know what he's doing."

Irvan, who left his car and rushed to his trailer immediately after the race, remained in the trailer for more than an hour afterward. Reporters lingered outside.

Finally, Irvan emerged, and was told of Marcis' comments.

"I don't know," Irvan said.

Pressed on the issue, Irvan raised his voice to a reporter, said "I mean, `I don't care, OK?', and retreated into his trailer.

Marcis said Irvan made a similar move at Talladega last year, causing a collision, but said Thursday's near-incident was worse, because it was unnecessary.

Many drivers in the Twin 125s drive knowing they must finish in the Top 15 to qualify for the race. Others are assured spots because they were fast enough in qualifying to make the field no matter where they finish the twins. Marcis and Irvan each made the race based on qualifying speed. Irvan, the 1991 500 champion, will start 31st; Marcis will start two rows back, 35th.

"He's got enough speed to make the race," Marcis said. "What the hell's he pulling that for? Why's he doing something that stupid? He's got nothing between his ears."