When Drivers Arent Driving

Now that the 2000 NASCAR Winston Cup season has been over for an entire week, many top drivers, car owners and officials are trying to balance the fine line between getting much needed rest and preparation of the year to come.

In a sport where there is basically no rest for the weary, most team members are more concerned about the 2001 season-opening Daytona 500 in February than they are about regrouping.

But like any business or sport, there are those people - in our case the drivers - who will try to get as far away from work as possible. While others, well, being a step ahead of the next team is what it’s all about.

Here’s a look at what some NASCAR players are going to be hoping to accomplish over the winter months.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“Going to Jamaica to kick back with a cold one.”

Mike Skinner
“Hopefully I’ll get to play a couple rounds of golf. Oh yeh, and I’m getting married.”

Jeff Gordon
The three-time Winston Cup champion has seen a lot in his short Winston Cup career, but Gordon has never seen Europe. That fact has changed as Gordon and wife Brooke are wrapping up a vacation that will end prior to the Winston Cup banquet on December 8 in New York.

Steve Park
“I ain’t going to do nothing with work. I’m going to get to go to Jamaica, so I’ll get to play. I got a new Harley-Davidson motorcycle, so I’m planning on riding the hell out of that thing. Man, I’m just going to take it easy and kick back. I’ll spend Christmas with my family and all the people you have to neglect all year long.”

Mike Helton of NASCAR
“Get ready for next year. We have a lot of work that goes on during the offseason. So when you get to the end of the year, you kind of celebrate it and the pressure is off a little bit. Then it doesn’t take too long into December before you have to start getting ready for next year. You just try to stay busy, and you don’t get bored or tired of it because it’s fun. There are a lot of people that would pay to do what I do every weekend.”

Dale Jarrett
Unfortunately, Dale will not have to go through all the hype again that he went through last winter after becoming the Winston Cup champion for the first time in his career. With fewer obligations than the year prior, Jarrett says he plans to sharpen his noted golf skills as much as possible.

Richard Childress
“I’m going to be moving into a new home in Winston-Salem (N.C.). And hopefully I’m going to get to go down to Texas and do a little deer and elk hunting this winter.”

Ray Evernham
“There is no ‘off’ time, that’s for sure. Everybody with Dodge has been getting ready for the 2001 Daytona 500 since October of 1999, so our plan really isn’t going to change at all. There’s no time for vacation.”

Kurt Busch
"I'll probably take a day off, take everything in and pinch myself to see if this year was a dream. Everything has happened so quickly that I haven't a chance to sit down and really think about what I've accomplished. There isn't much of an offseason in Winston Cup, and I want to take a hands-on approach at the shop as the guys are building some new cars and re-skinning some old ones. We have some lofty goals for next year, and the sooner we're able to get some cars finished, the better off we'll be."

Rusty Wallace
“I’m going skiing,” says Wallace, who also said he’d be spending a lot of time at his home in the Appalachians trying to get well rested for the year to come. He said he hopes to stay away from “nasty spills in the snow” since he was slightly injured last winter while skiing near his home.

Paul Andrews
“I'm kind of sad that the season is over. They could just give us a weekend off and I'd be happy. I really enjoy racing. My wife thinks I'm crazy sometimes because even on our down time, I'm headed to Concord (N.C.) to watch racing or help my sons with their racing efforts. It's never ending for me and I love it.”

Robby Gordon
“In Winston Cup, if you want to run up front then you don’t get much of a winter. You’d better stay on top of your game so you can come out strong and tough and hopefully be a lot more competitive. This is the series to be in, and I realized that the first time I came here in 1997.”

Dale Earnhardt
As usual, the seven-time Winston Cup champion likes to get away from the racing scene - just like his car owner of Childress - and do a little hunting. But thanks to the rain-delayed final race of the season at Atlanta, the “Intimidator” was forced to cancel his traditional hunting trip. Instead, Earnhardt tested a new type of racing - in the form of a Corvette he’ll race next year in the 24-Hour race at Daytona. “Come Daytona in February, Dale Jr. and myself are going to be in the 24-hour race, so we went to Sebring and tested the car for the first time,” Earnhardt said. “It's going to be fun. We didn’t drive but hour-and-a-half shifts. Maybe that's all the gas it will hold. If it held more gas, Dale Jr. and me might drive a little longer. As long as he (Dale Jr.) doesn't bend my race car, I'll be all right. He's got to be careful.”

Robin Pemberton
“Work. We spend the whole offseason getting ready for next year. My wife and I take a week vacation in Jamaica and kind of rest a little bit. I get to go to a lot of (son) Bray’s JV basketball games. We started planning for this winter and worrying about Daytona in September.”

Bobby Labonte
“We’re just going to be walking on clouds until we get to Daytona. We're going to be excited about trying to defend a championship, which I suppose, will be twice as hard as winning one. Mike Helton informed me, 'Until you get to Daytona you're our champion. You’re just like everybody else when you get back there.’”

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2000

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