Originally created 09/09/01

NASCAR notebook

RICHMOND, Va. - If you build it like Richmond, we will come.

That's the word from several drivers to prospective track builders around the country, who have seemed preoccupied in recent years with seating capacity in building cookie-cutter mile-and-a-half tracks.

Why, said Rusty Wallace, doesn't someone build another Richmond, a three-quarter-mile short track that races like a superspeedway.

"It's just the perfect size," Wallace said. "It offers super competition, great side-by-side racing and there's plenty of room for everybody. They could keep adding seats to the place if they wanted."

Richmond seats about 100,000 fans, and has clearance from the Henrico County government to expand by as many as 50,000 over time.

Wallace, of course, has reasons to favor RIR. He's the career leader among active drivers with six victories here and always contends.

But even drivers with no record of success wonder why someone hasn't taken the concept that is Richmond and reproduced it somewhere else.

"You don't have to worry about getting killed every time you turn the steering wheel. You can go two- and three-wide and race well. That's why we love it," said Rick Mast, a native of Rockbridge Baths, Va.

"You build all these brand new racetracks and they put up 100,000 seats at a two-mile racetrack and you run 10,000 miles an hour and nobody runs side-by-side all day," the veteran said. "It's ridiculous."

SEEING RED: Count Sterling Marlin among the drivers still peeved about NASCAR's decision to throw a red flag after an accident with seven laps to go in last Sunday's Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

"For years, if they wrecked we finished under caution," Marlin said. Allowing cars on the back of the lead lap to pit for new tires while the leaders refuse to give up their track position in dangerous, he said.

"It just causes a situation with three or four laps to go, 'Hey, I'm going to knock somebody out of the way,"' he said. "And that's what happened. It wound up tearing up a lot of equipment uncalled for."

Marlin, who is third in the points race, said he had a top five car in the race, but wound up 16th after a crash on the next-to-last lap. Ward Burton won it after taking the white flag and a caution flag together.

Several drivers complained about the red flag after the race, and Marlin said the Winston Cup trailer has been flooded with complainers.

NASCAR Director of Operations Kevin Triplett said Saturday that several drivers have visited the trailer to voice their opinion and were told that the red-flag precedent has been consistent for a few years.

It just yields a lot of unnecessary sheet metal work, Marling said.

"They're going to do what they want to do anyway," he said. "If they run it under green, we'll run it under green. If they throw the red and stop it again, we'll do it again and tear up some more cars."

LOONEY BIN: The full name of Saturday night's race was the Chevrolet Monte Carlo 400 with the Looney Tunes because seven Chevrolets competed with specialty paint schemes featuring Warner Brothers characters.

The concept was to promote DuPont's new ChromaLusion paint, which appears to change colors depending on the way the sun hits it.


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