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NASCAR SPOTLIGHT: LARRY McREYNOLDS

Larry McReynolds is crew chief for Robert Yates Racing, which fields the No. 28 Ford Thunderbird driven by Dale Jarrett.

Q: Last Sunday at the Michigan race, the team finished sixth, its best run of the season. How big of a boost was that for the team, which has struggled so far?

A: It depends on how you look at it. When you consider the runs or the luck that we've had in June and May, it was like we'd won the race on Sunday. But this team, we're not built around sixth-place finishes. You can certainly get complacent, if you're not careful, with just finishing in the top 10. That's not us. I mean, we were happy to have a sixth-place finish but we still weren't the strongest car and not the strongest Ford either. That's what we've got to work on and strive to do.

Q: With the Yates team so accustomed to winning, how have you tried to keep the crew's spirits up with Jarrett sunk in 14th place in the series standings?

A: As I've told many people a lot of times, I think team members are always watching the crew chief. If the crew chief is stomping and snorting and kicking and down and out, that's what they're going to do. If I'm still smiling, working hard and still upbeat, as a rule _ not always _ that's what they're going to do. It's a really tough deal we're going through, but we're going to get it turned around or die trying.

Q: This is one of the rare Sundays that Winston Cup teams have off. What do teams do during these breaks in the schedule?

A: A lot of times we use this time to catch up, to get all of our cars back together that we've torn up. We try to let the guys work like seminormal human beings this week, which they haven't been able to do much lately. We tried to make it where they had the weekend off. Most teams do a lot of testing during the off-weeks. We were supposed to go to Indianapolis to test, but we didn't because we needed to get all our cars back together.

Q: How are your preparations for the Pepsi 400 in Daytona next week different than for the Daytona 500?

A: We won the pole in February there, but when you look at qualifying next Thursday, the 28 car is probably going to be fourth to ninth because we're carrying a car that has a little more drag in it than we had in February, but it has more downforce. When the racetrack gets about 120 degrees, handling becomes a big issue. That's the one thing we've always worked on for July. We don't want to be 10 miles an hour slower; you can't do that. But you've got to have a car where the driver can stay on the gas in that race. That's why you don't normally see the pole-winner win that race in July.

_ DARRELL FRY

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