Gatorade Twin 125-Mile Qualifying Notebook

Gatorade Twin 125-Mile Qualifying Notebook John Crowley - NASCAR Online DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 12, 1998) Notes from Thursday's Gatorade Twin 125-Mile Qualifying Races at Daytona International Speedway: Ken Schrader, driver of the No....

Gatorade Twin 125-Mile Qualifying Notebook

John Crowley - NASCAR Online

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 12, 1998)

Notes from Thursday's Gatorade Twin 125-Mile Qualifying Races at Daytona International Speedway:

Ken Schrader, driver of the No. 33 Skoal Chevrolet, suffered a fractured sternum Thursday when he hit the wall head-on during a two-car crash in the first of the two 50-lap events. Schrader got out of the car under his own power, and was transported to the Infield Medical Center, where he underwent an EKG and chest X-rays before moving to Halifax Medical Center for further evaluation.

He is still scheduled to drive in Sunday's Daytona 500, but will step back and allow Mike Wallace to drive his NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division car in Saturday's NAPA Auto Parts 300.

Schrader appeared to be nudged by David Green between Turns 1 and 2 on the final lap. His car spun sideways and shot toward the outer wall. He clipped Benson's No. 26 Cheerios Ford on the way back down the banking, ending the day for both.

Schrader was holding his chest and clearly shook up as he examined his car.

"It's a big blow, and there's no way around that, but I think this is still the best chance we've ever had to win the Daytona 500," said team owner Andy Petree. "The big problem now is Kenny. He's got to be tough as hell after that hit he took. ... I know he'll drive if at all possible, but we'll have to start looking for someone to stand by just in case Kenny can't make it all the way."

Schrader, who has never won the Daytona 500 but finished second in 1989 to Darrell Waltrip, was sidelined in the race's 39th running last year after a crash on the backstretch with Steve Grissom.

It took Darrell Waltrip a past champion's provisional to get into the Daytona 500 after being knocked out of the second Gatorade 125-Mile Qualifying Race in a six-car crash.

Waltrip was sent spinning in his No. 17 Speedblock/Builders Square Monte Carlo along with Steve Park, Ricky Rudd, Dave Marcis, Ricky Craven and Mark Gibson, bringing out the first caution flag of the race. His car came to a rest without further incident, but you wouldn't know it by talking to the three-time series champ.

Afterward his explanation made one wonder if he'd regained his balance, and his senses. "I was down on the bottom," he explained. "I thought we were going to clear the guy in the middle. I think the guy in the middle got into the guy on the outside and he got into the guy on the inside - which, unfortunately, happened to be me."

And the leg bone, it's connected to the ankle bone, right?

Rick Mast and the No. 75 Remington Arms Ford missed the Daytona 500 last year, forcing owner Butch Mock to strike a deal with another car to carry his sponsor colors in this all-important event. It cost Mock a couple of bucks. But for Mast, the price was in years. "It took 10 years off my life," said the 40-year-old Virginian.

Mast went into the last lap of the first Gatorade 125 in 16th, one place out of transferring to the main event. Two-and-a-half miles later, he knew he would live to fight another day as he finished 14th. "Maybe this is a sad state of affairs, but if I win the Daytona 500 on Sunday, I can't imagine being any happier than I am right now," Mast said. "I got a little bit of a run and I picked up a couple spots, and then I just missed that last wreck. Man, this is good!"

Two-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Terry Labonte was guaranteed to start on the outside of the front row Sunday, regardless of his finish in the second Gatorade Twin-125 Mile Qualifying Races. So when his car acted like it left a cylinder relaxing back in the garage, he decided to play it safe and park the No. 5 Kellogg's Corn Flakes Chevrolet, the better to focus on winning his first Daytona 500.

"Instead of taking a chance on getting in a wreck or something, I thought I would come in and just try again on Sunday," Labonte said. "Something was wrong with it on the start, so we'll have to work on that. Yesterday I noticed it didn't accelerate good. It was even worse today."

Sterling Marlin's Columbia, Tenn. accent can be a little thick. His boss, Team SABCO owner Felix Sabates, whose native tongue is Spanish, can also be a little tricky to follow, especially when he's excited.

After Marlin's win in the first Gatorade Twin-125 Mile Qualifying Races, the two had quite an animated conversation in Victory Lane. What exactly did they say? Afterward, even Marlin wasn't sure.

"I almost needed an interpreter a while ago in Victory Lane," Marlin said with a smile. "But (Sabates) was real happy."

Jimmy Spencer drove a Ford Thunderbird to victory in the Bud Shootout Qualifier on Sunday, but promised to run the new Taurus the rest of the week. He kept his word, and his competitive edge, finishing fourth in the first Gatorade 125-Mile Qualifying Race. And now he's looking to carry that momentum, and the knowledge gained from 125 miles in the new model, to Victory Lane on Sunday. "It was a little snug and it stayed snug," Spencer said of the car that will start seventh in the Daytona 500. "That's a good sign. We wanted to stay on the conservative side and we did. Now we'll make some changes and move ahead to Sunday."

Ernie Irvan has a new fan. He and his wife Kim celebrated the birth of their second child, Jared Lawrence, who was born on Monday. Irvan finished fourth in the second Gatorade 125 and will start 10th on Sunday.

Not only are they thankful for Thursday's finish, but more importantly, for the health of their son. Jared Irvan - who was born at Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte, N.C. - arrived three week prematurely and was placed on a respirator to assist in the development of his lungs. Jared, who weighed 6 pounds, 7 ounces at birth, is the Irvan's second child, joining daughter Jordan Leah.

Courtesy of NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ernie Irvan , Darrell Waltrip , Terry Labonte , Steve Park , Ken Schrader , Jimmy Spencer , Sterling Marlin , Mike Wallace , Ricky Craven , David Green , Dave Marcis , Rick Mast , Mark Gibson , Andy Petree , Steve Grissom , Felix Sabates