Friday news #1 97-08-22

NASCARFans E-Mail List I've had several offers of tickets to the Bristol race. Unfortunately, I'm suffering from that fairly common disease, "lakkakash". I hope all of you readers who are going enjoy yourselves. It's going to be a ...

NASCARFans E-Mail List

I've had several offers of tickets to the Bristol race. Unfortunately, I'm suffering from that fairly common disease, "lakkakash". I hope all of you readers who are going enjoy yourselves. It's going to be a good 'un.

Rusty Wallace would just as soon forget about the last lap of the last Winston Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway, if people would let him. He ran away with the Goody's Headache Powders 500 on the .533-mile Bristol oval last August, earning his sixth win at the Tennessee track. But it is the race that he didn't win here in April that everybody is talking about as practice and qualifying begin Friday for Saturday night's race. In that event, Wallace was leading heading into the final lap only to be bumped aside by winner Jeff Gordon, who is doing his best to surpass the older driver as NASCAR's short-track wizard. Heading into this weekend, Gordon owns a string of 12 consecutive top-four finishes, including six wins, on the short tracks. But it's the aggressive move in the April race that has impressed most racing people. ``There's nothing I could do different,'' Wallace said of the pass. ``When I went down the back straightaway, he closed in and kind of gave me a bump. It got me up the race track, he got underneath me and that was it. I'd never lost a race coming off the (final) corner, never.'' Still, Wallace is surprised how many people are still thinking about that last lap. ``That (pass) seems to be all that anybody wants to talk about when the subject of Bristol comes up,'' Wallace said. ``It's just like they forgot that we led all those laps and pretty much dominated the Bristol race last August, and dominated again during most of the April race. ``They just want to know if we have any special plans of attack for ... Saturday night,'' he added. ``They want to picture it as a sort of revenge situation.'' Wallace said a woman fan, while getting his autograph last week in Detroit during a promotional trip, asked him if he had any plans to get even with Gordon. ``She referred to Bristol as the `scene of the crime,' '' Wallace said with a chuckle. (charlotte.com)

How valuable is experience? It's worth a lot to Dale Earnhardt Jr. The son of seven-time Winston Cup champion Dale Earnhardt is willing to sacrifice a chance at Grand National rookie of the year honors in 1998 for additional track time in 1997. Earnhardt Jr. will attempt to qualify for tonight's Food City 250 at Bristol in the No. 7 Chevrolet fielded by Ed Whitaker. It will be Earnhardt's first GN experience in a car not owned by his father. It also may jeopardize Earnhardt's rookie status for next season, when he plans to run a full Grand National schedule. (charlotte.com)

Fans will get an insider's look behind the scenes when they attend the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Drivers' and Crew Chiefs' Meeting Sunday morning prior to the Parts America 150 at Watkins Glen International. All drivers and crew chiefs will attend the mandatory meeting at the Parts America Family Fun Zone at 10 a.m. on Sunday, to get final instructions from NASCAR officials prior to the 12:30 p.m. Parts America 150. The Drivers' Meeting is one of many opportunities for fans during the weekend. The garage will be open to paddock/garage ticket holders during working hours, enabling fans to watch teams prepare the NASCAR Craftsman Truck and NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour vehicles. The public may meet many of the drivers in both series at a pair of Saturday afternoon autograph sessions. (NASCAR Online)

Jeff Gordon was not born a short-track racer. He's just a good learner. In his first four races at Bristol Motor Speedway, Gordon had an average finish of 22.8. In the last five race on the .533-mile Tennessee oval where the Winston Cup series is racing this weekend, Gordon has posted three wins, a second and a sixth for an average finish of 2.2. All told, Winston Cup drivers have six races on three tracks shorter than a mile, including Bristol, Martinsville, Va., and Richmond, Va. Heading into the Bristol race, Gordon had compiled a string of 12 straight top-four finishes, including six wins. Ray Evernham, crew chief for the series-leading Gordon, said, "We worked hard on the short tracks when we first started this deal. Experience and testing have probably made the difference. "There's something different about driving these 3,400-pound cars on the short tracks. You've got to have a guy with real quick reflexes and a good thinker to keep that car out of trouble, to get those good finishes." (News-Journal Speed Magazine)

Darrell Waltrip hasn't won at Bristol Motor Speedway since August of 1992, but the three-time Winston Cup champion still leads everyone with 12 wins at the Tennessee track. Cale Yarborough, retired since the end of the 1988 season, is still second with nine Bristol wins, while Dale Earnhardt is next with eight. (News Journal Speed Magazine)

Jimmy Spencer, ranked 19th in the NASCAR Winston Cup points standings, has had his contract extended to drive the No. 23 Ford for Smokin' Joe's Racing owner Travis Carter. "I'm really excited about coming back to Travis' team," Spencer said. "I can't say enough about the whole operation. (Crew chief) Donnie Wingo and the rest of the guys keep giving me great cars, and I think we can only improve as time goes on. It's a great honor to work with the people from R.J. Reynolds." Spencer, 40, of Berwick, Pa., came to the team at the start of the 1995 season and has posted three top-five finishes and 16 top-10s. His only two wins in Winston Cup competition came in 1994 at Daytona and Talladega. Last year, Spencer won the Sears DieHard Racer Award for most miles completed and scored nine top-10 finishes. "We're very happy to have re-signed Jimmy," Carter said. "He's been doing an excellent job, both in and out of the car, since the day he came to us, and we're looking forward to continuing our relationship. "Stability is so important in this sport, and we're certainly excited about keeping Jimmy in the fold." (iRace)

Bristol Herald-Courier column by Sterling Marlin, dated Thursday, August 21, 1997

It's time to head back home and I can't think of a better time to get there. It happened to us again. I know it sounds like a broken record and I hate to keep saying it, but when you blow an engine what else could it be but bad luck. That's what happened to us up in Brooklyn, Mich. Sunday. We've been fighting this luck thing for so long it's almost hard to remember a time we haven't been fighting it. Bristol is the type of place that could turn things around for us because it's a place where we've had good runs over the years and because we know we're going to have a lot of people pulling for us. I figure Bruton Smith ought to put in another few thousands seats just to handle the Morgan-McClure people who want to be there. This is their biggest race of the year. For a lot of them, it's the only chance they get all season to come to the race track. They pretty well figure we're going to run well and they pretty much plan on us winning at Bristol. I can't blame them. Those folks expect a lot out of this race team and they should. This is a good team with a good history. This team has won the Daytona 500 and won at Bristol. They've won on road courses and they won at Darlington. Just because we're going through a little spell of - I'll say it - bad luck doesn't mean the end of time is coming over the hill and it doesn't mean this group has forgotten how to win. There are peaks and valleys with just about everything in life and racing's no different. We're going through a little bit of a valley now but we'll start uphill soon and Bristol would be a great place to start that climb. We're going into Bristol with every intention of winning the Goody's 500 - plain and simple. The boys on this Kodak Gold Film Chevrolet team have kept their heads up all season long and they haven't let the weird things get them down. Every time something strange happens, they just bear down a little harder and work a little longer. At some point, we will lick this thing. (BHC)

Winn Dixie supermarkets have taken over title sponsorship of the ARCA race set for the Saturday before the DieHard 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. The race, originally called the Mountain Dew 500K, will instead be named the Winn Dixie 500K. Winn Dixie negotiated with Pepsi to take over title sponsorship of the race, which will be run Oct. 11. (charlotte.com)

Mike Irwin (mike@nascarfans.com) NASCAR Fans _______________________________________ NASCAR Fans Website http://www.nascarfans.com

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Gordon , Darrell Waltrip , Rusty Wallace , Jimmy Spencer , Sterling Marlin , Ray Evernham , Cale Yarborough