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31 Competitors Including Mark Martin and Roush Racing to Compete in Suzuka

22 July 1997


DAYTONA BEACH, FL - Martin and Roush Racing, one of the most
formidable NASCAR Winston Cup Series teams on road courses, and
defending race champion Rusty Wallace are among the 27 teams from the
NASCAR Winston Cup Series, NASCAR Winston West Series, NASCAR Busch
Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series scheduled to compete in the
second NASCAR Thunder Special - Suzuka.  Four additional positions are
scheduled to be filled by Japanese drivers.

In this year's demonstration event, the 31 competitors will face a
qualifying and race format commonly used in NASCAR competition.

Qualifying will consist of two timed laps around Suzuka Circuitland's
1.4-mile east road course. Each driver's fastest lap will be used to
determine the starting field. The race will consist of 125 laps (175
miles) and run according to the traditional NASCAR Winston Cup Series
format with green flag pit stops.

"The first NASCAR Thunder Special at Suzuka last year was a great
success," said NASCAR president Bill France. "The people in Japan
experienced the thrill of NASCAR racing, and NASCAR teams, drivers,
sponsors, and officials experienced competing in the Pacific Rim for
the first time. Now, this race will evolve to provide the people of
Japan with the same format of racing that NASCAR fans in the United
States experience each week. And as is done week in, week out here in
the United States, we look forward to providing fans worldwide with
the closest, most competitive auto racing available."

"Our whole team is looking forward to the return to Suzuka to defend
our crown," said Rusty Wallace, defending race champion. "The fact
that the format has changed and the addition of drivers such as Mark
Martin and Bill Elliott to the field makes it an even bigger challenge
for us. The green flag (pit) stops and the 'straight up' qualifying
will mean added excitement for the Japanese fans and the television
viewing audience. They (NASCAR) really emphasized it being an
'exhibition' last year. This time around it's a no-holds-barred

This event, the second of the NASCAR exhibition races in the Pacific
Rim, is scheduled to be held at Suzuka Circuitland on Sunday, November
23, at 12:30 p.m. (Japan Time). Because Japan is 14 hours ahead of the
United States, the race will air live in the United States on
Saturday, November 22, at 10:30 p.m. (EST). TBS Superstation will
broadcast the race in the United States.

Other NASCAR Winston Cup Series competitors scheduled to participate
in the second annual event include 1996 NASCAR Winston Cup Champion
Terry Labonte, seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup Champion Dale Earnhardt,
and 1997 Daytona 500 Winner Jeff Gordon, as well as defending NASCAR
Busch Series Champion Randy LaJoie.

Leading NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competitors Kenny Irwin, Jay
Sauter and Rick Carelli, and NASCAR Winston West Series competitors
including Butch Gilliland, Gary Smith, Scott Gaylord and John Kinder
will round out the field.

"It has always been important that through this project, we at NASCAR
expose the top drivers not only from the NASCAR Winston Cup Series,
but many of our top racing divisions," said France. "Each competitor
from each division has something special that they contribute to the

NASCAR has worked closely with Suzuka Circuitland executives to
identify qualified Japanese-based drivers to potentially participate
in the demonstration events. The same drivers who earned the respect
of the American competitors in 1996 will return again in 1997.

Last year's event was witnessed by nearly 40,000 Japanese motorsports
fans who watched 23 NASCAR drivers as well as four Japanese drivers
compete in the American brand of NASCAR racing.
"It's important to continue to reach new markets if the sport is going
to continue to grow, and the exhibitions in Japan continue to help
move that process forward," said Terry Labonte, defending NASCAR
Winston Cup Series champion. "Our season will be over by then, and we
can concentrate solely on putting on a good race for the Japanese

Suzuka Circuitland Company is the premier motorsports company in Japan
and owns the world-famous Suzuka Circuit located in Suzuka City, Japan
- 250 miles southwest of Tokyo.
Built in 1962, Suzuka Circuitland was the first genuine race course
built in Japan. Not only home to several race courses, the 550-acre
resort boasts world-class accommodations (500-room hotel), fine
restaurants, shopping and an amusement park. The facility holds
countless motorsports events including a number of world
championships, Formula 1 Japan Grand Prix (since 1987) and the Suzuka
8-Hour Endurance Road Race (motorcycles).

By NASCAR Public Relations