CONCORD, N.C. - The on-going debate between the Winston Cup Series and the Busch Series got a little more intense Friday following second-round qualifying that set the field for today's Carquest Auto Parts 300 - and sent 22 race teams home.
Fourteen full-time drivers from the Winston Cup Series made the starting lineup for the support race at the Lowe's Motor Speedway. While it helps sell seats before the 1 p.m. start, it does little to help the Busch Series establish its own identity.
When 14 drivers moonlight in another division, it comes at the expense of many full-time Busch Series teams.
David Green, a Winston Cup regular, will start on the pole for today's race. His Chevrolet Monte Carlo was clocked at 176.569 mph in time trials.
Other Winston Cup regulars in today's field include: Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon, Brett Bodine, Elliott Sadler, Mike Skinner, Jimmy Spencer, Joe Nemechek, Ken Schrader, Kevin Lepage, Michael Waltrip, Jeff Burton, Kenny Wallace and Johnny Benson.
Some of the Busch Series regulars who were bumped from the race were: Larry Pearson, Mike Dillon and Bobby Hillin. All three were ranked in the top 20 in Busch Series points.
"You didn't see Michael Jordan coming back to North Carolina to play a few games when he was in the NBA," said two-time Busch champion Randy LaJoie, who was relegated to one of seven provisional exemptions.
QUIET BEFORE THE STORM: The Winston Cup garage was silent Friday. Several years ago, the speedway decided to copy a tradition from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway by closing the track for practice on Friday before the race.
A handful of teams, however, used the quiet time to fine-tune their cars for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600.
Crewmen worked on the rear fenders on Rusty Wallace's car, while a single mechanic stayed busy under Bobby Hamilton's car. Also, three crewmen stayed busy going over every inch of Jeremy Mayfield's car.
The garage will be busy today.
Minutes following the Carquest Auto Parts 300 for the Busch Series, the Winston Cup cars will get a one-hour practice session on the 1.5-mile raceway. The final practice session, called "Happy Hour," is one of the busiest hours of the racing week since teams will be making final decisions on set up and engine combinations.
LIKE INDY, LIKE CHARLOTTE: Several stock car teams tested a tethering system similar to those being mandated on every Indy car at this Sunday's Indianapolis 500.
The Indy Racing League now requires the tethering system to keep suspension parts from flying into the grandstands during an accident. Earlier this month, three people we killed in the grandstands when three IRL cars crashed at Charlotte.
The system uses steel-like cables to secure suspension pieces.
"We didn't have any problem with it at all," said Tommy Baldwin, crew chief for Ward Burton after their Pontiac was fitted with the tethering system during last week's The Winston all-star race. "It didn't hurt any of our (suspension) set ups at all. I think it's a very positive thing for NASCAR to do."
The tethering system currently is not required by NASCAR.
BOGUS TICKETS: Officials from the Lowe's Motor Speedway are on the alert for counterfeit tickets for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600.
"We will prosecute those involved with distributing counterfeit tickets to the fullest extent of the law," said speedway president H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler. "A counterfeit ticket has no value and will not be honored at our gates."
Last year, many counterfeit tickets were sold by scalpers around the raceway. Local police will arrest anyone illegally scalping tickets this year, Wheeler said, and they will be on the lookout for bogus tickets.
The average cost for a single ticket to Sunday's race is about $75. A crowd of nearly 185,000 is expected.
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