Jerry Nadeau Still Learning

Nadeau trying to hit the learning curveball By Brett Borden MARTINSVILLE, Va. (April 13, 1999) After a recent test, Jerry Nadeau says he's excited for a trip to Martinsville. Like a Major League rookie facing big league pitching for the...

Nadeau trying to hit the learning curveball By Brett Borden

MARTINSVILLE, Va. (April 13, 1999) After a recent test, Jerry Nadeau says he's excited for a trip to Martinsville. Like a Major League rookie facing big league pitching for the first time, Jerry Nadeau found it tough going last year in his first NASCAR Winston Cup Series season. His two best races came on the circuit's road courses, where he started 2nd at Sears Point and finished 15th at Watkins Glen. The rest of his season was riddled with right turns at the wrong times. "I still feel like I'm learning," said Nadeau, who has learned to qualify a lot better in his sophomore season, if not finish that way. "People forget that I don't have that much stock car experience. I had five (NASCAR) Busch (Series) races before last year, and that first year was just a learning year. There were a lot of frustrations and some wrecks."

Last week at Bristol Motor Speedway, Nadeau made contact with the lapped car of Bobby Labonte, and the resulting spin resulted in a lot of sheet metal damage for a lot of teams. Having been in an incident earlier in the day with Ricky Craven, Nadeau found himself voted "Most Popular" in the blame game.

"I feel like I've gotten a bad rap over this weekend," Nadeau said. "Nothing was said from the spotter when I came down into Ricky Craven. It was totally my fault, but I didn't hear anything from the spotter telling me he was there."

Nadeau has done well in spots this year. He finished 11th in the season-opening Daytona 500, and has qualified in the first round six of the seven races in 1999. That doesn't surprise Nadeau, even though as a Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate he only did so 16 times in 32 tries, twice failing to make the race at all.

"This team's always been known to qualify really well in the past," he said. "Me, too. Especially the second time around. I'm starting to understand where the groove's at on these tracks. And I'm learning these radial tires, and about getting everything out of the tires. As far as qualifying better, it's between that and a lot of hard work by the team."

Indeed, Nadeau posted these improvements in qualifying in his second time around the horn last year. Rockingham: 34th to 11th. Atlanta: 35th to 19th. Darlington: 25th to 9th. Richmond: 36th to 19th.

Look for improvement this weekend in the Goody's Body Pain 500 at Martinsville Speedway, where Nadeau had perhaps his toughest outings in 1998. In the first race, he started 42nd and finished 27th. In the second, he came home 35th after starting 40th.

"I've struggled there," conceded the 28-year-old Danbury, Conn., native. "That was one of my least favorite tracks, but now that we've gone there and tested well I'm really excited about it. We went there last week, and we unloaded quick with the qualifying setup. Then we also did well with the race setups. I'm really excited."

A good run at Martinsville would make the Cartoon Network Ford team jump like some of the characters that adorn the car itself. Nadeau says he's ready to get that car pointed in the right direction.

"Our luck needs to be turned around," he said. "The guys are working their butts off. I couldn't ask for a better bunch of guys to work with. We just need to turn this thing around."

Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Labonte , Jerry Nadeau , Ricky Craven