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Minter: Ah, The Smell Of Bondo In A NASCAR Garage

Rick Minter | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, February 19 2011

Trevor Bayne, No. 21, and David Ragan took a spin around Daytona on Thursday. (Photo courtesy of NASCAR)

Daytona Beach, Fla. – A few random observations from a Friday at Daytona International Speedway.

First, it was refreshing to walk through the garage and get a whiff of fresh Bondo being applied to a race car. Donnie Wingo and the crew of Trevor Bayne’s No. 21 Ford were in the far end of the second garage building, putting a new left door and new front fender pieces on their car. The door and fender sections were works of art, pieces of flat metal shaped by hand into curved sections that eventually will meet the tight specifications of NASCAR’s templates.

It was like watching a fine craftsman at work on a piece of art, made all the more pleasant by the aroma of freshly mixed body filler.

And, as was the case with Jeff Gordon’s crew repairing his No. 24, damaged in the same crash that banged up Bayne’s Ford, it was like old times to see teams fixing cars in the garage instead of unloading back-up cars.

Supper at Gene’s steakhouse on Thursday after the Gatorade Duels has become a tradition for members of the media from the Atlanta area, who are treated to a fine meal by Atlanta Motor Speedway track president Ed Clark.

This year’s gathering was enjoyable as usual, but I couldn’t help thinking what wasn’t said, which was that in year’s past Clark and his staff were busy making last-minute preparations for their spring Cup race. This year, there is no spring Cup race at AMS, even though the traditional March date is now an open weekend.

Clark is a first-class fellow. His track is one of the better ones on the circuit from a competition standpoint. Surely one day he’ll get that race date back.

Over the years in NASCAR, there have been few people as loyal to the sport, and to his sponsors, team owners, fans and the media, than Mobile, Ala.’s Rick Crawford.

But Crawford lost his full-time gig last year in the Camping World Truck Series, where he’d been one of that circuit’s most loyal participants and holds the record for career starts with 325.

Then on Thursday night, he failed to qualify for Friday’s truck race at Daytona, a race he won in 2003, the first year the trucks raced at Daytona.

According to Crawford’s long-time publicist Tommy Prater, it was the first time in Crawford’s career, in any form of racing, that he’d failed to qualify for a race.

Motor racing has many fine attributes, but it can be heart-breaking as well. Crawford, who tried to qualify one of his old Fords, made over into a Chevy, deserves better.

– Rick Minter can be reached at rminter@racintoday.com

Rick Minter | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, February 19 2011
One Comment

One Comment »

  • Terry says:

    Rick,
    You were right on the money with the ” works of art” line. The bodies on the #21 have RCR Gibbs Hendrick folks all coming down to look at them. I have heard Jeff Gordon say he ” he’d like his car to be that smooth”.
    And isn’t it GREAT to see the excitement back in the WOOD BROS garage. NASCAR needed this whether they knew it or not….FANS really like to see the old school underdog do well.
    R I P …AK “UNDERBIRD”…..
    GO #21 GO……