CONCORD, N.C. - Michael Waltrip was a runner at the Boston Marathon a couple years ago, so he knows something about being tired.
The prospects of driving two races - the Little Trees 300 for the NASCAR Busch Series and the UAW-GM 500 for the Winston Cup Series - in the same day wasn't daunting for Waltrip, especially since he planned to do it all sitting down.
"I've run a Boston Marathon for four hours on my feet, so I figure I can drive a race car for seven hours sitting on my (rear end). I never considered not doing it."
Rain forced a postponement of Friday night's Busch Series race at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Instead of pushing it back until today, speedway officials and NASCAR created the first day-night doubleheader in the sport's history.
The Busch Series race, won by Greg Biffle, started at 11 a.m. Once it finished security and cleaning crews cleared the stands and the gates were re-opened for the UAW-GM 500 by 3 p.m. That race started at 7:20
Waltrip was one of 11 drivers pulling double duty. Matt Kenseth, the leader of the Winston Cup Series point standings, decided to concentrate solely on the night race, turning the driving duties over to Jeff Burton during the Busch Series race.
Joining Waltrip, Biffle and Burton with double duties Saturday were: Brian Vickers, Jamie McMurray, Kevin Harvick, Jason Leffler, Casey Mears, Dave Blaney, Jeff Green and Joe Nemechek.
Although Biffle had the dominant car during most of the Busch Series race, he said his engine seemed like it was on the verge of blowing up in the final 50 miles.
"I hate to bad-mouth the engine guys when they're trying to celebrate a victory, but something, I'm not sure what, was sounding like the motor was going sour for the last few laps."
Like the others involved in the day-night doubleheader, Biffle said the more than six-hour break between races was enough time to drink fluids and get some rest before the 500-mile main event. The key, he said, was having an easy car to drive.
"Hopefully, this will be of some help in the night race," Biffle said. "There's a fine line here with the balance of the car. When it's right, it's easy. When it's not right, it's a long day."
SPLIT THE PURSE: The Busch Series seems headed to a strange championship finish.
While David Green leads the driver standings, Richard Childress leads the car owner standings.
Points are awarded to both driver and car owner after each race. The reason a car owner is scored is to erase a penalty if a car owner uses more than one driver during the year.
Childress' No. 21 Chevrolet has been driven by Kevin Harvick and Johnny Sauter this year.
If Green and Childress both win, NASCAR has decided it will have a head table at the awards banquet for both teams and both Green and Childress will be crowned as champions.
Green leads the Busch Series standings by 36 points over Brian Vickers. Scott Riggs is 47 points behind, while Ron Hornaday Jr. is 76 back and Jason Keller trails by 80.
SHEDDING LIGHT ON ATLANTA: Speedway Motorsports Inc. owner O. Bruton Smith said his group is pushing for a night race next October at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.
While Smith said he hopes to make the switch to prime time by next year, speedway president Ed Clark said he'd rather see Atlanta's spring date in March be pushed later into the schedule to accommodate a night start and leave the October race during the day.
"I've presented NASCAR with several proposals in the last four or five years," Clark said. "If I had my way, I'd love to have a race in June. As a promoter you don't want to take somebody else's race away and you don't want somebody to take away one of your races. But if NASCAR is realigning the schedule, that makes sense."
Clark said the weather is too risky in the Southeast for night racing any later than Saturday night's UAW-GM 500 at the Lowe's Motor Speedway.
PIT STOPS: By finishing sixth and collecting $33,875, David Green became the first Busch Series driver this year to surpass the $1 million mark. Through 29 races, he's won $1,000,455. ... Travis Carter joined with United Kingdom-based Torquespeed Motorsports to develop a new Winston Cup Series team for 2004. That team will have a European driver.
Reach Don Coble at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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