News # 3 97-09-22

NASCARFans E-Mail List ========== NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Rich Bickle had an appendectomy on Sept. 11, so he could have easily stayed out of his Sears DieHard Chevrolet race truck on Wednesday at Martinsville Speedway during testing...

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========== NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Rich Bickle had an appendectomy on Sept. 11, so he could have easily stayed out of his Sears DieHard Chevrolet race truck on Wednesday at Martinsville Speedway during testing for the Sept. 27 Hanes 250. But then again, Bickle only trails Jack Sprague by 95 points in the chase for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship. So he eagerly joined several other Chevrolet truck drivers -- actually 22 teams -- who tested at the .526-mile flat oval. Among the drivers who tested along with the Edgerton, Wis., driver were Dave Rezendes, who actually drove Bickle's ride most of the day, Sprague, Ron Hornaday, Bobby Hamilton, Jay Sauter, Butch Miller, David Green, Brad Teague, Kirk Shelmerdine, Wayne Grubb, Bill Sedgwick, Ernie Cope, Kelly Denton, Jeff Spraker, Mike Wallace, Kevin Grubb, Randy Tolsma, Blaise Alexander, Andy Houston, Rick Markle, Philip Morris, Tammy Jo Kirk and Jamie Skinner, the son of inaugural NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion and current NASCAR Winston Cup Series Rookie of the Year point leader Mike Skinner. (NASCAR Online) ========== Test dates for 1998 Daytona 500:

General Motors NASCAR Winston Cup Series stock car teams will have two test periods to work on their Chevrolet Monte Carlos and Pontiac Grand Prix. GM cars will test Jan. 3-5 and 12-14.

Ford's NASCAR Winston Cup Series test dates will be the most critical in some time for the manufacturer as its teams will debut the new Taurus model at Speedweeks 1998. Fords will test Jan. 6-8 and 19-21.

NASCAR Busch Series teams will test together on Jan. 15-16 and NASCAR Goody's Dash teams will do likewise on Jan. 17-18.

Some NASCAR competitors typically get a head start on the season in the Rolex 24, the opener for Professional SportsCar Racing's season. Those high performance sports cars will test Jan. 9-11. (NASCAR Online) ========== After spinning his Burger King Chevrolet and hitting the wall in practice Friday, Steve Park failed to make the field. He attempted to qualify in Busch Beer Second Round qualifying, but was not fast enough to earn a spot in the field. Of the 43 cars attempting to qualify for Sunday's race, Park was the only driver who did not make the race. He has yet to qualify for a NASCAR Winston Cup Series oval-track race this year. Park plans to be a regular competitor in NASCAR's top series next season. (NASCAR Online) ========== There's a great article about Danny "Chocolate" Myers, gas man for the Childress Racing #3 that Dale Earnhardt drives, for those of you with web access at:

http://www.nascar.com/garage/00386115.html

It's just a bit long to be included here. ========== Annual voting for the NMPA / NASCAR Winston Cup Most Popular Driver is well under way, and vote totals are running slightly higher than at this time last season. More than 15,000 votes have been cast so far for 44 different drivers. The voting will end at Midnight Eastern time on Tuesday, Nov. 18. Within the United States, fans can vote by calling 1-900-903-0909. The total cost is 79 cents. Canadian fans can call 1-900-830-3847. The cost for the call from Canada is 89 cents. You must use a touch tone phone to vote. The Most Popular Driver Trophy will be presented at the NASCAR Awards Banquet in December. (NASCAR Online) ========== I want to thank NASCAR Online for allowing NASCARFans to use the information on their web site. They don't have do to that, and we appreciate it very much. ========== The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is producing one of those made-for-tv-type storylines in a battle for the Rookie of the Year award.

Rick Crawford, long a SlimJim's All Pro Series competitor, is battling Kenny Irwin Jr., a former USAC superstar, for the award.

Irwin is playing the prince in this motor melodrama. He's young, talented and quickly broke into the winner's column of this competitive series.

He's become one of Ford's "golden boys," and has already inked a contract that will send him into Winston Cup racing with Robert Yates Racing in 1998.

In truck wars, he boasts a team with Winston Cup-like dimensions, partly owned by Brad Daugherty, a former NBA center. It doesn't want for money, materials or manpower.

On the other side of the fence is Crawford, the pauper, who's getting along with a minimial amount of equipment, personnel and cash. He's the underdog, trying to reach up and grab the brass ring.

Crawford has two trucks and two engines and works out of a micro-sized shop in Cleveland, Ga.

"We work hard at what we do, and we try not to waste time or money, because we don't have either one to waste," says Crawford, with a chuckle.

His team is owned and solely financed by Tom Mitchell. If you think Mitchell is some kind of oil baron, or corporate mogul, or international financier, think again.

Mitchell's just a good ol' boy gearhead and a stock-car enthusiast who owns a couple of truck stops - that's two, a deuce - in Texas.

This is cut-rate, no-frills racing at its finest. If Crawford chopped any more corners on his budget, it would be a complete circle. His team does by doing without.

Crawford, 38, stretches every dollar like a rubber band on a Sunday newspaper - expanded to the breaking point. Every buck he gets, he puts into the race team.

He does without a lot of racing's fancy trappings, such as a motorhome, which are as common as air guns and hangers on at major NASCAR events these days.

Crawford is competitive, but cautious on the race track, knowing that one bad crash could jeopardize his team.

Even though Crawford's team may have holes in its sneakers, it's one of the very good teams in the Craftsman Series. Crawford wants to bring home the rookie hardware to his car owner, the beloved Mr. Mitchell. He's primed for the rookie stretch run. Crawford has emerged from the rookie pool like a shark, his dorsal fin directed at young Irwin.

"They're waiting for us to fall on our face, or for us to go out of business," said Crawford. "How long can this independent keep going; a guy who owns a couple of truck stops in Texas? Let me tell you, I'm going to race next year, and I'll race the year after that. This team isn't going to go out of business." (Godwin Kelly, News-Journal) =========== Here's an ARCA stock car story (no, we're not becoming ARCAFans). Thought it might interest you:

Mark Gibson said he was "in shock" for two days after winning his first Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) event.

The dramatic victory - a one-half, car-length thriller over defending ARCA champion Tim Steele - came Sunday at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill.

"We're still all in shock," said Gibson, who grew up near Daytona International Speedway. "We had an adrenalin rush for two days. We tested tires at Atlanta Motor Speedway Tuesday, and on the way home that night, everything hit me. It's like a dream. I keep walking by the trophy at the shop to see if it was true."

Gibson, who lives in Auburn, Ga., with his wife Jan, made his first ARCA start in 1981. He scored ARCA Rookie of the Year honors in 1986, his first full season.

Gibson has been down on his luck several times, but never said never.

"This is our fifth full season, since 1986," said Gibson, whose parents, Bo and Peggy Lynn Gibson still call Daytona Beach home. "The difference this year is that we're getting better equipment all the time, and more people in the shop to work on these cars. Our engine program is working well, and all the cars are good."

The engines come from Ernie Elliott, just up the road in Dawsonville, Ga.

The team is owned by Briggs Cunningham and Kerry Scherer, who are committed to seeing the program grow and improve. Gibson is currently supervising a move from the team's 5,000-square foot shop to a building six miles away with twice as much room.

Gibson won his first race after a heart-stopping, fender-to-fender battle with Steele over the last three laps of the 100-lap event.

An outside pass in the third turn was the deciding factor.

"Tim and I swapped the lead five times in the last three laps," said Gibson, who lost his voice in the post-race celebration, and was reduced to a whisper during a telephone interview. "I had been trying him low, pass him, then wash up the turn.

"On the last lap, I went outside and he let me go. I got into the corner as hard as I could, and the car stuck. I didn't know why he chose to guard the bottom. I couldn't believe he gave me the outside. I beat him into the corner by a length. He had to go outside to pass, but I had the momentum. It was the only lap I led all day."

Gibson has been knocking on Victory Lane's door all season, starting with a third-place finish in the Daytona ARCA 200. He had second-place runs at Michigan Speedway and DuQuoin State Fairgrounds leading up to Sunday's victory.

"Everybody was happy," said Gibson. "Everybody congratulated me. Tim was the first to do it. He gave me thumbs up on the cool-down lap. All the crews came over. Just everybody was thrilled, probably because we have been so close, so many times. I think everybody was a little relieved, too."

With six races left on the schedule, including three superspeedways, Gibson wants to repeat. He hopes the Gateway win opens the floodgates.

"Winning makes you a little hungrier," said Gibson. "I used to think mostly about points, but I feel we can go to any race track and win. We know how to win now. Everybody's pumped up."

Was this victory worth 17 years of struggle and hardship?

Gibson never hesitated.

"Definitely," he said. "This year has been worth it, a culmination of all the hard work we put into the whole deal. We knew we had a good team, one of the best teams in ARCA. All the years led up to this? Yes, it was worth it."Gibson had only one regret: "I wish my mom and dad had been there to see it (Godwin Kelly, News-Journal)

========== I had a sneak peek at the new website, folks! It's going to be nice, with lots of improvements on the way.

Interested in advertising on the new web site, or within the NASCARFans E-Mail List? You could reach 4,000+ NASCAR fans with your advertising just in the e-mail list. Contact Von Hall at e-mail address "Von@NASCARFans.Com" for further information, or you can contact me at "Mike@NASCARFans.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 , Rich Bickle , Bobby Hamilton , Steve Park , Mike Skinner , Jay Sauter , Mike Wallace , Andy Houston , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Blaise Alexander , Jack Sprague , Rick Crawford , Kevin Grubb , Tim Steele , Kirk Shelmerdine , Mark Gibson , Brad Teague , Tammy Jo Kirk , Rick Markle , Robert Yates , Butch Miller , Jeff Spraker , Philip Morris