Jerry Nadeau's Rookie Diary -- Chapter 3 DARLINGTON, S.C. (March 19, 1998) Editor's Note: Jerry Nadeau, driver of the No. 13 FIRSTPLUS Financial Ford Taurus, will chronicle his first full season on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series in a special...
Jerry Nadeau's Rookie Diary -- Chapter 3
DARLINGTON, S.C. (March 19, 1998) Editor's Note: Jerry Nadeau, driver of the No. 13 FIRSTPLUS Financial Ford Taurus, will chronicle his first full season on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series in a special series for NASCAR Online. The Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate will share his thoughts every two weeks as his first-year team, owned by Bill Elliott and Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino, battles the odds, and the competition. Be sure to check back as he shares his thoughts with fans.
"Well, Atlanta is the closest track to my home, so I was really looking forward to it. We tested there, I was really excited. But the forecast called for rain, and did it rain. It rained out pretty much everything, but we were able to get in the first round of qualifying and that was a big deal. But we didn't get a lot of practice, so we had to work very hard.
"All in all, the toughest thing about the whole weekend was, being a rookie and a first-year team, we just didn't have the whole package to run well. Then we got caught once for speeding down pit road, and when you have to come back in during a green flag that will cost you a couple laps. That will pretty much take you out of the game.
"But we learned a lot and we came home unscathed. But in the end, we were just glad to get the whole weekend done with. The crew was pretty happy just to get out of there. We were pretty relieved when that checkered flag finally fell.
"Next up we tested at Darlington, I think it was the day after the race. We took our Rockingham car, we got it painted up and took it to the the track they call "Too Tough To Tame." We unloaded Tuesday morning and I took my first lap really slow. I couldn't believe all the skidmarks and marks on the walls there. I said 'Man, this is going to be pretty neat.' But I suppose a lot of people would get intimidated by that, but myself, being a driver, it just gets you more excited. And I think we tested well. For the two days we ran, I think we were second- or third-fastest of everyone.
"But for us, I think the biggest task is just to make the show. But it's easier after you've had a good test there. That brings a big boost and the team gets real excited.
"I really enjoyed the race track, and they call it one of the hardest there is as a driver. And we never had any problems. In the whole time we were there we didn't come close to a wall. It's a lot of fun, and it's fast. You're going an average of 165 mph on a mile-and-a-half speedway. It's considerably slower than some tracks, like Charlotte, but the thing is these turns have tough characteristics. It's just a fun racetrack, you can feel the car move around a lot and I just like it."