Chad Little/John Deere Motorsports Daytona notes and quotes

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 1, 2000) - Saturday's running of the Pepsi 400 marked the midpoint of the 2000 Winston Cup season, and for Chad Little and the John Deere crew, they hoped their second visit to Daytona International Speedway would set...

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 1, 2000) - Saturday's running of the Pepsi 400 marked the midpoint of the 2000 Winston Cup season, and for Chad Little and the John Deere crew, they hoped their second visit to Daytona International Speedway would set the stage for a successful "second season." The team ultimately picked up their 10th top-20 finish in the car dedicated to their fallen teammate Dave Rush. Little drove the No. 97 Ford to the 19th starting position for Saturday's race under the D.I.S. lights, and consistent practice times throughout the weekend raised the level of confidence around the John Deere garage. Little fought a tight-handling condition the first half of the 160-lap race, and fell back to 33rd position before the first caution flag on lap 52 as a result. Little brought the green-and-yellow machine into the pits for minor chassis adjustments, fuel and tires, but when the race resumed to green, he reported that the tight condition persisted. This hampered Little's efforts on the track, and when the second caution flag came out on lap 82 drastic changes were made in the pits. Little was able to evade the frontstretch accident that brought out the lap 82 caution by running on the apron of the track, but the car behind him wasn't so lucky. Little entered the pits for multiple chassis adjustments and changes, and when the race went back to green on lap 89, Little reported that the handling of the John Deere Ford had significantly improved with the removal of a spring rubber during the pit stop. Little had his work cut out for him, though, as he was shown in 31st position with 70 laps remaining. The team would take advantage of the next two caution periods to put on fresh rubber and fuel, and as the fourth caution period ended on lap 120, the race to the finish began to heat up. Two-wide and three-wide racing occurred for the rest of the 400-mile event, and Little took advantage of the draft to move his way from 31st on lap 120 to 15th on lap 130. Little broke into the top 10 on lap 145 by running the low line around the 2.5-mile oval, and as the top-10 cars ran single file, Little stayed in line hoping to make a last-lap charge. Unfortunately, the race went under caution on lap 154, and Little reported the push that he experienced late in the runs was once again becoming a problem. Little was able to hold his position as the race went green with four laps remaining, but on the final lap a train of cars shuffled the No. 97 Ford out of the draft causing Little to drop to 16th as he crossed the finish line. Little and the John Deere crew have one week to prepare for the New England 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway, their first of two trips to the speedway. Little currently occupies the 21st position in the Winston Cup point standings, less than 60 points out of the top 15. Little's Quotes

"I really had to work the draft for the first half of the race tonight. The car's handling was off, and there needed to be an adjustment in the way I drove around the track. Since we weren't able to use the preferred line, I had to make sure that we used the draft to suck back up the pack on the straightaways and entering the turns. "During the first segment of the race I experienced the worst push ever around here. We made some changes to fix the problem, but at the end of a run, the car would start getting tight again. That made it tough to hold off the cars behind me over the last few laps because I wasn't able to block their move down low. The car wanted to ride up towards the wall exiting the turns and when you have a pack using the draft like that, there isn't much you can do. But we finished 16th and that's an improvement from February and last year's Pepsi 400. We have a great superspeedway program, and with this car staying intact, we'll be able to get it ready for Talladega in October."

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Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Chad Little