Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2000 | 10:15 a.m.
DaimlerChrysler, which is getting back into NASCAR racing in 2001 with its Dodge Intrepid R/T, will sponsor next year's Winston Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the Sun has learned.
The UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 will be held March 4, 2001, on the 1.5-mile superspeedway. LVMS general manager Chris Powell would neither confirm nor deny that the automaker would sponsor the race, but industry sources told the Sun on Monday that a deal had been reached between the two parties.
LVMS officials have scheduled a news conference on Wednesday to formally announce the sponsorship.
"We do not have a deal signed yet but we do have a press conference scheduled for (Wednesday)," Powell said.
UAW-DaimlerChrysler will be the third sponsor of Las Vegas' Winston Cup race in its brief four-year history. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority sponsored the Las Vegas 400 in 1998 and 1999 before CarsDirect.com bought the naming rights for this year's race for a reported $1.9 million.
Details of DaimlerChrysler's sponsorship with LVMS were not available today.
After an absence of 15 years from the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, DaimlerChrysler announced a year ago that its Dodge division would return to the series with the Intrepid R/T and make its inaugural appearance at the 2001 Daytona 500.
Dodge was a fixture in NASCAR racing since the sport's inception in 1949 and won 160 races and two manufacturer's titles with drivers such as Lee Petty, Richard Petty, Buddy Baker and David Pearson. The manufacturer has not competed in a Winston Cup race since 1985.
Veteran Winston Cup crew chief Ray Evernham, who is spearheading DaimlerChrysler's return to NASCAR, has a three-day test session scheduled for Las Vegas Motor Speedway Nov. 6-8.
Evernham will field Intrepids in 2001 for drivers Bill Elliott and Casey Atwood under the Evernham Motorsports banner.
Other drivers scheduled to compete in Dodges next season include John Andretti, Buckshot Jones and Kyle Petty for Petty Enterprises; Ward Burton and Dave Blaney with Bill Davis Racing; Stacy Compton for Melling Racing; and Sterling Marlin and another driver to be determined with the Ganassi/Sabco team.
Also on Monday, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and its Winston brand announced that the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway would be the inaugural "No Bull 5" race of the 2001 season.
The top five finishers from Sunday's Winston 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway -- Dale Earnhardt, Kenny Wallace, Joe Nemechek, Jeff Gordon and Terry Labonte -- are eligible to win a $1 million bonus from Winston if one of the five drivers wins the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400.
The CarsDirect.com 400 was designated as a "No Bull 5" race this year and Jeff Burton claimed the $1 million bonus for winning the event.
The other "No Bull 5" races next season will be the May 27 Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway near Charlotte, N.C.; the July 7 Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway; the Sept. 8 Chevrolet Monte Carlo 400 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway; and the 500-mile event at Talladega Superspeedway on Oct. 21.