Here Come The Night Races
by Adam Sewell
May 3, 2002

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Richmond marks the start of the Winston Cup night racing action. Photo: NASCAR PR

What do you think of when you hear the phrase "Star Wars"? Do you think of George Lucas and the galaxy he created far, far away? Or how about Ronald Reagan's missile defense system? 

Sure, there's a new Star Wars movie coming out in 15 days. With all the Homeland Defense hubbub going around, the missile defense system has been making a few headlines again. Did the Winston Cup Series ever enter you mind? 

This week, and every race this month, the Cup boys will wage their wars under the stars. What is it about night racing that NASCAR fans love so much? Is it the cherry red glow of the brake rotors as they dive into the corner at Richmond? Is it the eye-popping shower of sparks as the cars bottom out during The Winston and the Coca-Cola 600 on the high-banks of Charlotte? Or could it be the superstition that sets off the incredible action when racing under a full moon? 

Whatever the fascination, fans love night racing, and this month will provide one thrill after another. Heading into Richmond, the pre race favorites have to be Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Rusty Wallace, and Ricky Rudd. Stewart and Earnhardt have both had incredible success at Richmond in their short Winston Cup careers. Wallace usually has a dominant car in the early going at Richmond, but his car always seems to suffer late in the race. And who could forget last fall when Ricky Rudd showed Kevin Harvick the proper way to do the bump-and-run, and not get in trouble for it? Rudd will also tie Terry Labonte's Iron Man record of 655 consecutive starts this week and be set to break it with the green flag at the Coca-Cola 600. 

When the Cup series gets to Charlotte for The Winston and the 600, well, when you throw in all the cash, let's just say those two races can get as unpredictable as the flight path of a flock of geese in a hurricane.

The author can be contacted nascar@autoracing1.com

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