Pearson optimistic about Buckshot By Shawn A. Akers
SPARTANBURG, S.C. (Dec. 27, 1998) Crew chief Ricky Pearson anticipates he and the No. 00 Buckshot Racing team will struggle early on in their Raybestos Rookie of the Year season in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series in 1999. With any first-year team, Pearson figures, that's the norm. But Pearson doesn't expect the team to stay down too long. With a young, talented driver like Buckshot Jones behind the wheel Pearson thinks the No. 00 Pontiac team is destined to enjoy some success in its initial season on the nation's toughest stock car racing circuit. "We may have a few bumps along the way at the beginning of the season, but I don't anticipate us struggling long," said Pearson, the crew chief for Jones' NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division team the past couple of years. "With Buckshot running some Cup races this year and running as well as he did, I know that he's got the confidence that he can compete at this level. And with the cars we've gotten built here, I do, too. "I think we're pretty prepared right now. We've set our goals awful high, and we keep moving our standards higher and higher. The main thing for us is to get through the first four races of the year and to qualify for every one of them, then we'll really concentrate on achieving our goals." Like the other rookie teams, the No. 00 Pontiac outfit won't have any owner's points to rely on for a provisional for the first four races of the year, so it will have to qualify for the races on its own. In five NASCAR Winston Cup Series starts in 1998, Jones had two top-20 finishes, including an eighth-place finish in his first effort of the year at Dover in a Chevrolet fielded by the Stavola Brothers Racing team. In his regular NASCAR Busch Series ride this past season, Jones finished ninth in the standings with one win (at New Hampshire in May), six top-fives and nine top-10 finishes in 31 starts. The team is getting settled into its new facility, located just off of Interstate 85 in Spartanburg. Pearson said the team already has 10 NASCAR Winston Cup Series cars either completed or near completion. The team has an extra benefit in that it is getting its engines from Hendrick Motorsports, an organization which has won four consecutive NASCAR Winston Cup Series championships. Pearson said the biggest hurdle for him as a crew chief is the adjustment from the NASCAR Busch Series to the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. "Some of the things we did (in the NASCAR Busch Series) is the same things the Cup guys do," Pearson said. "The biggest thing is the horsepower. But, I'm going to have to learn all over again. With me being a rookie and Buckshot being a rookie, and the fact that we've worked together for three years, that will make it easier for us. We know what each other wants. "We'd love to win the Rookie of the Year, but we know that competing against guys like Elliott Sadler and Tony Stewart, it's going to be tough. Those guys are with teams that have been on the Winston Cup circuit for a while. They may have a little bit of an advantage, but we feel like we've got a few advantages, too." The No. 00 Pontiac team is still without a primary sponsor heading into the holidays. Pearson said the team is in negotiations with several, and hopes to have something signed by February when it heads to Daytona. In the meantime, AquaFresh and Brunswick, two companies that have been associated with Buckshot Racing in the past, are helping out financially as associate sponsors on the car. Pearson said team owner Billy Jones' company, Crown Fiber Communications, may wind up being the primary sponsor on the car early in the season. Pearson said the team is shooting for a top-25 finish in the point standings in 1998. "Certainly, we'd like to sit on a pole and win a race, some rookie teams have done that in the past," he said. "But we want to be in a position to win a couple of races and get a lot of top-10s and some top-fives. We're realistic in that we know that we're up against the best crews and drivers in the world. But we're not intimidated at all, and we're going to give it our best shot to achieve our goals."
Source: NASCAR Online