WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (August 13, 2000) - The rain stopped long enough to run Sunday's Global Crossing @ The Glen, and for Chad Little and the John Deere crew the weekend was an exercise in patience. With limited track time on Friday and Saturday,...
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (August 13, 2000) - The rain stopped long enough to run Sunday's Global Crossing @ The Glen, and for Chad Little and the John Deere crew the weekend was an exercise in patience. With limited track time on Friday and Saturday, the team used what time they were afforded to put together a solid race car and they were rewarded with their third straight top-20 performance.
Most of Friday's activities were postponed due to inclement weather, and a majority of the teams were only able to make five or six laps around the 2.45-mile road course in the two rain-shortened practice sessions. Qualifying was rescheduled for Saturday, and as Chad Little took the green for his one-lap qualifying attempt, the skies once again opened up around Watkins Glen International. With the rest of qualifying being canceled due to the rain, NASCAR set the 43-car field based off of the rule book, and Little claimed the 22nd starting position based off of his place in the Winston Cup owner standings.
The skies finally cleared on raceday, but the threat of rain weighed heavy on the minds of the crews as they stocked their pits with at least one set of rain tires for the 90-lap event. The race got underway with dark clouds scattered overhead, but that didn't alter the task at hand - racing to the front. Little was able to make his first pass of the day as he narrowly avoided the spinning No. 40 car as it made contact with the No. 25 car on lap 4. That brought out the first of five cautions flags on the day, but with Little's current track position, the team opted not to pit.
The race would run green through the first round of pit stops, and Little brought the No. 97 John Deere Ford in for a four-tire stop on lap 30. Little had climbed as high as third during the first round of pit stops, but as the field cycled through their stops, Little was shown in 17th place. The second caution flag came just six laps later, and with only two stops needed to finish the race on fuel, crew chief Jeff Hammond once again kept Little out on the race track. The race would go back to green on lap 38, and Little climbed his way back into the top 15 before the third caution flag waved just one lap later.
The team pitted next on lap 58, and once again the pit stops took place during green-flag racing. Little brought the car into the pits spending most of the green-flag segment in 15th, but once the field shook out, the No. 97 Ford shown in 20th place. With a few cars on a different pit strategy, and needing to make one final stop for fuel, Little sustained his position on the track as the fourth caution came out on lap 62. By way of pit stops, Little moved back into 13th place as the race resumed on lap 66.
Little lost one spot during the next green-flag segment, and as the final caution of the afternoon appeared on lap 68, Little was solidly in the top 15, driving the John Deere Ford in 14th place. The race to the checkered flag resumed on lap 70 and Little battled his way past the No. 5 car over the course of the next 10 laps. Little was in 11th place with nine laps remaining but a surging No. 28 machine passed the green-and-yellow Ford with just five laps remaining. Little put together a strong run to keep the rest of the competitors at bay, and walked away with his fifth top-15 finish of the season, finishing both road-course events in the top-25.
Little recorded his best Winston Cup finish at The Glen, 12th, and moved up two spots in the Winston Cup point standings to 20th, 111 points out of the top 15 heading into next weekend's Pepsi 400 at Michigan Speedway. Little's Quotes
"We were able to stay out of trouble today, and we walked away with another top-20 finish. We had a good car from the start and we didn't need to make any adjustments over the course of the afternoon. That's the foundation of a good run. We had a car that allowed us to make some passes around this windy race track, and we were able to stay up with the lead pack and race aggressive. We had a solid starting position and that makes it a little easier to stay out of the trouble that we typically see at a road-course race. Since there aren't a lot of opportunities to pass, sometimes you'll see a driver make an ill-advised attempt or get a bit impatient.
"We're making a silent charge back into the top 15, and as long as we keep doing what we're doing, there's bound to be a great run for us up the road. I don't know if we feel like we having something we prove, but I do know that we're trying to reverse the trend we had last year at this time. Each week we keep shrinking the points difference between us and the top 15, so we know we're heading in the right direction. Next we have Michigan, and that's been a good track for us the second time around. Essentially, it'll be important to have good pit stops since most will probably come under green."