Dave Marcis, Shawna Robinson secure spots

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Author: Gary Long
Date: Feb. 14, 2002
Publisher: Tribune Content Agency
Document Type: Article
Length: 582 words

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. _ Dave Marcis strained to pick up the reporter's question.

"I can't hear you," he said finally. "I don't have my hearing aids in, so you've got to holler."

Understand, those ears have reverberated to the rumble of engines starting in 32 previous Daytona 500s. At age 60, Marcis will line up Sunday for his 33rd, breaking a tie with stock car racing legend Richard Petty.

A seventh-place finish in a Gatorade 125-mile qualifying race Thursday secured Marcis' starting spot in the final race of a career that has spanned five decades. He will retire afterward.

"I'm tickled to death," said Marcis, a Wausau, Wis., native who made his first Daytona 500 start in 1968. Indeed, he started eight Daytona 500s before Sunday's front-row starters _ Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick _ were even born.

"It's just a fantastic feeling," Marcis said.

Shawna Robinson shared those sentiments after her qualifying speed put her into the 500 lineup after a crashing exit from her Gatorade 125.

She had to wait until the 125 results were complete to see if her 182.663-mph run last Saturday would earn her one of six positions awarded on the speeds for those not otherwise in the field.

It was 1999 Winston Cup champion Dale Jarrett who walked up behind her and delivered the news.

"Am I in?" she asked.

"That's what they tell me," a smiling Jarrett said. Robinson shrieked, leaped and hugged the messenger. In fact, she got the sixth and final speed slot and will start 36th Sunday.

Robinson is the second woman and the first since Janet Guthrie in 1980 to race in the 500.

"This race team earned this," she said of the BAM Racing outfit that prepared her unsponsored No. 49 Dodge. "We had a plan. My job was to come here and be focused on only what I'm supposed to do."

It will be the second Winston Cup start for the 37-year-old mother of two and veteran of ARCA, Goody's Dash and Busch Grand National racing. She finished 34th in a race at Michigan Speedway last year.

In her 125, Robinson was an innocent victim in a seven-car tangle precipitated by accordion-like bumper tag among Mike Skinner, Buckshot Jones and Kenny Wallace. "There was nowhere to go," she said. Her car suffered extensive damage to the right front, and she had to park it after limping back to pit road.

Jimmy Spencer was the most prominent casualty of that crash in his first ride in one of team owner Chip Ganassi's Dodges. He had neither a quick-enough qualifying speed or sufficient owner points from 2001 to earn one of seven provisional starting spots at the back of the 43-car pack.

"There's just nothing you can do when you get hit from behind," he said.

"I'll probably hit the golf ball Sunday. I won't watch the race."

Luckily, Kyle Petty won't have to watch the race, either. Petty failed to finish in the top 14 in the Gatorade 125 won by Jeff Gordon, and it appeared the 500 would be without a Petty in the lineup for the first time since 1965.

However, he, like Robinson, had a reasonably fast qualifying speed and will start 34th.

___

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A82870219