THE COMMERCIAL APPEAL
And, with a grin, McCluskey added, "I won that one last year."
When asked if the SCIR course will be tougher on the car or the driver, McCluskey said quickly, "both...It'll be hard on the brakes, particularly if it's a hot day, and I'm sure it'll be, you're going to wear some brakes shoes on these curves."
McCluskey, who switched from USAC's sprint division to the late model stocks in January, 1968, cast a worried eye at SCIR's pit area.
"That looks tough," he said. "There don't appear to be much room to get your car in and out quickly. That could give some drivers problems."
McCluskey, whose racing career began in 1949 with roadsters in Arizona, tried his hand at the late model stocks as a substitute driver for veteran Norm Nelson at Phoenix in 1968.
"Norm called me at home (Tucson) and asked me to come over and substitute for him," recalled McCluskey. "I had shaving cream all over my face. I threw everything in a bag and drove over there just in time to take a few laps." McCluskey, who won USAC's sprint car championship in 1963 and 1964, placed second at Phoenix.
Qualifying is an important part of racing, according to McCluskey, who finished in the top 6 finishers 13 times last season. "If you're far down in the pack, you're in trouble before you start," he said. "You've got to qualify high, especially on a course like this. A good start certainly helps.
McCluskey took time to get a closer look at SCIR's first and second turns. He inspected the new safety devices required by USAC, particularly the double guard rails and quarter-mile concrete wall along the courses only straightaway.
William F. Taylor, USAC's stock car supervisor, has inspected the Raceway three times in the last few weeks. Under his guidance, SCIR officials are installing new double guard rails, twice as many protection poles and the new wall.
Qualifying opens tomorrow at noon with the fastest 30 cars set to return for Sunday's $20,000 race, A driver can qualify as long as he wants to , but he must say prior to making his run which lap he wants to qualify.
McCluskey declined to guess what it'll take to qualify. "You can't judge what's going to happen without testing the course," he said.
SCIR is located a the Canada Road exit off Interstate 40. Pre-race tickets may be purchased at any Coleman-Taylor location, Goldsmith's central ticket office or at SCIR.
© Copyright 2000-2015 Greg Friend