While as many as a half-dozen teams have contended for the 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship at the top of the standings, the ...
While as many as a half-dozen teams have contended for the 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship at the top of the standings, the #77 Jasper Engines & Transmissions Ford Team has joined many other organizations is measuring the success of reaching its pre-season goals as well as the stretch-run possibilities as the season winds down with its final three events at Rockingham, Phoenix and Homestead.
With five teams--including the #77 Jasper Ford--within 190 points in their battle for the final two positions in the top-20 in the WC owners standings, the urgency for front-of-the-field results is significant for drivers DAVE BLANEY, Jeff Green, Robbie Gordon, Kyle Petty and Kevin Harvick as their teams compete for a better position in NASCAR's per-race bonus plans for the 2003 season, as well as earning the symbolic top-20 designation.
Perhaps no team in the Winston Cup garage has enjoyed a bigger upswing over the past four seasons than the #77 Jasper Motorsports program, which finished the 1999 campaign in 39th-place in the WC owners standings, 2,737 points behind champion Jeff Gordon.
After 103 interim races, the #77 Jasper team ranks 19th and has cut its margin-to-first by almost two-thirds in its first season with BLANEY, the tenth driver for owner Doug Bawel since his Jasper Engines & Transmissions company became a co-primary sponsor and co-owner of the #55 Ford in 1993. Last season's 23rd-place finish in the WC owners standings--with driver Robert Pressley--was the team's previous best and included a season-best finish of second at Chicago, the best finish for a Jasper Motorsports program still looking for its first Winston Cup win.
With a miles- and laps-completed mark of almost 99% (second in both categories) in 2002, BLANEY has improved the consistency watermark for Winston Cup drivers by almost 20% over the team's 1999 completion ratios and has placed the #77 Jasper Ford as one of only two single-car teams currently in the top-25 (trailing the #32 Cal Wells Ford by 225 in 16th) in a WC points standings dominated by entries from multi-car operations.
And with only three races remaining to improve its standing, the Jasper team leads both MB2 teams, both of the Bill Davis Racing entries where Blaney previously raced (1998-2001), all three of the Petty Enterprises teams, two of the three Evernham Motorsports entries, two of the four Hendrick Motorsports entries and two of the three Richard Childress Racing teams, trailing the #30 RCR team (in 18th) by only 85 points entering this weekend's Pop Secret 400 at North Carolina Speedway.
* DAVE BLANEY and the #77 Jasper Engines & Transmissions Ford team enter the Pop Secret 400 at North Carolina Speedway ranked 19th in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series owner standings, 85 points behind the #30 Richard Childress Racing Team (Jeff Green); in the February race in Rockingham, BLANEY started 36th (24.035 secs.) and finished 22nd, one lap down to race-winner Matt Kenseth; BLANEY has a best-start at NCS of sixth (11/01-23.846 secs.--finished 14th) in four career starts and a best-finish of ninth (2/01--started 18th); the #77 Jasper team has a best start of fifth (Ted Musgrave-2/93) and a best finish of seventh in the same race; the #77 Jasper Ford has finished in the top-15 at Rockingham in three of the last four races.
* The #77 Jasper Motorsports pit-crew will join 24 other teams in the annual Union 76/Rockingham World Pit-Crew Championship on Saturday at North Carolina Motor Speedway; under the direction of Crew Chief Ryan Pemberton, the #77 Jasper Crew finished 23rd in the 2001 competition(35.571 secs. with penalties) behind the world-record setting #17 Roush Racing team for driver Matt Kenseth (17.695 secs.); in 2000, the #77 Jasper Crew ranked 14th (21.00 secs.) behind the winning crew from the #99 Roush Racing team for driver Jeff Burton; the #77 over-the-wall crew consists of jackman Mike Clark, gasman Dennis Cabe; gas-catch man Chris Fasulka; the front-tire changer/carrier duo of Rich Macco and Scott Munskgard and the rear-tire changer-carrier duo of David Woodhead and Larry Robinette.
* BILL "STUMP" LEWIS--driver of the #77 Jasper Ford transporter--won the NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship for transporter drivers last weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the International Truck Challenge, beating 21 other competitors for both the event and seasonal title; LEWIS received a trophies from event-sponsor International for both victories, as well as a total of $26,000 in prize money; Tim Beaver (#45) and Tracy Lumpkin (#9) trailed LEWIS for the overall 2002 championship.
* #77 Jasper team member JEFF FULTZ, who won the NASCAR All-Pro Series championship two weekends ago in Memphis, will attempt to qualify for the NASCAR Busch Series race at Rockingham this weekend; FULTZ won three times in All-Pro competition in 2002 (Nashville, Myrtle Beach, Memphis) and also won the ARCA race in May at Charlotte; a Cincinnati, OH. native, FULTZ--a full-time fabricator in the Jasper shop--brought 179 overall career wins and seven series championships into the 2002 season; FULTZ was honored at the NASCAR All-Pro Banquet last Saturday in Atlanta.
* FULTZ joined #77 transporter driver LEWIS as the third 2002 series champion with connections to the Jasper Motorsports Team; BORIS SAID, who runs a limited WC schedule in the #67 Jasper Engines & Transmissions Ford, won the 2002 Trans-Am Series championship three weeks ago at Road Atlanta and won from the pole position last weekend in the season-finale at Virginia International Raceway; with his race-win (his eighth in 12 starts and fifth straight) at VIR, SAID registered the 100th Trans-Am win for Ford and joined Tommy Kendall (11 wins) and the late Mark Donohue (10) as the only Trans-Am drivers to win at least eight races in a single-season.
* BLANEY's season-best qualifying effort is third (Richmond 2), matching his WC career-best at Atlanta (11/01); his ninth-place finish at Richmond in September matched his season-best at California; his career-best WC finish is sixth (Texas, Michigan 2, Miami-- 2001); BLANEY got a lap-down early (after starting 19th) last weekend in the rain-shortened race in Atlanta, but was among the fastest five cars in the race's second-half to post a 19th-place finish at AMS.
* After 33 races in the 2002 Winston Cup season, BLANEY RANKS SECOND IN LAPS-COMPLETED (9,581 of 9,723--98.5%), behind only Rusty Wallace (98.9%), another Penske-Jasper Engines entry; BLANEY ALSO RANKS SECOND IN MILES-COMPLETED (12,781.535 of 12,949.627--98.70%), trailing only Jimmie Johnson (98.98%--.by 36.713 miles); Wallace ranks fourth in miles-completed behind Johnson, BLANEY and Mark Martin.
* Ryan Newman leads the three PENSKE-JASPER ENGINES entries in the 2002 Winston Cup driver standings in fourth-place (4,225 points--14 top-fives and a series-best 21 top-tens), 203 points behind leader Tony Stewart; Rusty Wallace (4,201 points--6 top-fives, 16 top-tens) ranks fifth, 227 points out of first; BLANEY and the #77 Jasper team rank 19th in the WC owners points (3,373 points); BLANEY ranked 23rd entering the 34th race of the 2001 season (at Miami) in the #93 BDR Dodge.