Still Searching For Victory

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NASCAR Nextel Cup Series stars Rusty Wallace and Terry Labonte are hoping that this year's 46th annual Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 15 will finally bring them their first triumph in the "Great American Race."

"We've come so close to winning it so many times," said Rusty Wallace, who has made 21 starts in the Daytona 500. "We'd lose it with 10 laps to go and five laps to go and things like that.

"Maybe it'll be my year this year. I feel like I've got just as good a car as I've ever had. Our practice speeds have been pretty strong. We've been in the top 10 the past two or three days. I believe the performance is definitely there in the car."

A victory in the Daytona 500 can be an elusive one. Darrell Waltrip, a three-time NASCAR Nextel Cup Series champion, needed 17 years to finally win the "Great American Race" while the late Dale Earnhardt captured the Daytona 500 on his 20th attempt.

"I remember Dale went forever with people asking him when he was going to win the Daytona 500," Wallace said. "He won it (in 1998) and it wasn't an hour later he told me they'd start asking me when I was going to win it. That's a compliment to me."

Meanwhile, Terry Labonte, driver of the No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet, has made 25 starts in the Daytona 500, finishing second three times.

"It's a big event for us," Labonte said. "It's the biggest race that we run. It's the one that everybody wants to win. Everybody puts a lot of effort into it. It's always been that way. I can remember back years ago when people hardly did any testing. They still always tested at Daytona for the 500.

"It's always been a very difficult race to win over the years. It hasn't changed. There are a lot of guys that burn the same fuse I do - like Rusty Wallace and some others - that have won a lot of races and some championships but still haven't won the 500. It's a tough one to win."

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