The Year in Review
A look back at area sports in 2000

1. Bodine's bang: Nothing generated more news locally than Geoffrey Bodine's spectacular trioval accident during the inaugural Craftsman Truck Series race at Daytona International Speedway in February. Bodine's truck hit the wall and then began a series of flips as his racing machine came apart at the seams, catching fire along the way. Somehow, Bodine survived the scary accident and returned to race later in the season.

2. Mr. President: Mike Helton became NASCAR's third president and the first without the name Bill France. Helton, who was the sanctioning body's chief operating officer, was hand-picked and groomed for the job by France, who moved up to NASCAR's newly created chairman of the board position. The board consists of five people -- four members of the France family and Helton.

3. France wind: Bill France scored a big victory by beating cancer with a series of energy-zapping chemotherapy treatments. France, 67, is currently wheelchair bound but expected to recover after intense rehab,. He'll direct most of his time to International Speedway Corp., which is opening two new tracks in 2001.

4. Single file: Race fans saw a lot of single-file racing in the Daytona 500 and Pepsi 400 so NASCAR went to the rule book to fix the problem. When Winston Cup teams return for Speed Weeks, they'll be racing with a new aerodynamic package designed to stimulate side-by-side action.

5. Jarrett's third: It may have been a conga line most of the day for the Daytona 500, but Dale Jarrett managed to win by passing Mark Martin and then Johnny Benson for his third 500 trophy since 1993.

6. Mark Martin: Daytona Beach driver Mark Martin had successful back surgery and scored another top-10 points finish in his Roush Racing Ford. He also retired from the Busch Series. Locally, he was part of a massive effort to build a quarter-midget oval inside New Smyrna Speedway.

7. Grand Am: The Grand American Road Racing Association backed by the France family, opened for business in 2000 and had a successful first year of operation. Grand Am is based in Daytona Beach and sanctions the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

8. Spirit's crown: The Spirit of Daytona sportscar endurance team captured Grand Am's inaugural American Grand Touring championship. This was the first time the Spirit team, long a Rolex 24 regular, had attempted a complete racing season.

9. New fence: Daytona International Speedway updated and replaced the fencing that guards the main grandstand area in the trioval. The fence is taller and stronger than the old metal fence.

10. Another Yunick: Daytona Beach native Casey Yunick took Rookie of the Year honors in the NASCAR Slim Jim All Pro Series, which features Late Model stock cars. Yunick is the grandson of racing legend Smokey Yunick.

Godwin Kelly; The DAYTONA BEACH SUNDAY NEWS-JOURNAL, December 31, 2000, 10C

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