Jiffy Lube Miami 300 Sunday Notebook By Dave Rodman
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Nov. 14, 1998) Notes and quotes following Sunday's Jiffy Lube Miami 300 from the Miami-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex:
Jeff Fuller drove his own car for the first time in 20 years -- or since he'd driven a "pro stock" type of late model car in his native New England in 1978. But Fuller did himself proud after he picked up sponsorship from Fiberall, Allerest, Eckerd and Pilot: Brands whose cars had not made the race. He finished 15th, the last car on the lead lap, and had to fight off race winner Jeff Burton, Jimmy Spencer and Mark Martin down the stretch. Fuller, a former NASCAR Busch Series Rookie of the Year and a former Featherlite Modified Series, NASCAR Touring, champion, hopes to continue with his team if no other rides are in the offing. He was greatly aided by brother Rick Fuller, another Featherlite Modified Series champion who began the 1998 series in an NBS ride but who was a victim of a sponsor-induced driver shuffle. Rick Fuller spotted for his brother and said after the race he'd like to return to the NASCAR Busch Series but that he had a couple potential Featherlite Modified rides on offer in quality cars.
Bobby Hillin Jr. had one of the ownership group of his Clean Shower Chevrolet -- Chicago Cubs third baseman Gary Gaetti -- on hand at Homestead as he served as Grand Marshal for the race. Clean Shower is already signed up for next season and the owners, including home run hero Mark McGwire will all return in 1999. The team may have some unique promotions in line for next season, similar to the "Mac Attack" decals that followed McGwire's assault this Major League Baseball season on Roger Maris' home run record.
Jimmy Foster, who began the season in the Dr Pepper Ford in the NASCAR Busch Series, will undergo surgery in Charlotte, N.C., on Dec. 1 to remove a screw from his left foot. Foster, a former Goody's Dash Series, NASCAR Touring, Rookie of the Year, reportedly has been offered a couple competitive rides in the NASCAR Busch Series and is currently weighing his options.
Among the interested onlookers on Sunday at Homestead was NASCAR Winston Racing Series national champion Ed Kosiski, who journeyed from icy Omaha, Neb., with his wife, Trish, to participate in a photo shoot for the NASCAR membership magazine on Monday in South Florida. Kosiski renewed acquaintances with former Busch All-Star Series, NASCAR Touring official John Darby, the NASCAR Busch Series director, among other friends in the NBS garage.
Whelen Engineering will back Northeast hotshoe Ted "T.C." Christopher in a planned 20-race program in 1999 in the NASCAR Busch Series using No. 13 Chevrolets. Car owner Ted Marsh was upbeat on Sunday despite missing the field for the Jiffy Lube Miami 300, and said his team could do the full 20-race program if an additional associate sponsor came on board but that the team was definitely in line to do 12-15 races from its base in Old Lyme, Conn. "The races we're doing, like Pikes Peak, Michigan, Milwaukee -- it doesn't matter where we're based," said Marsh of the team's travel plans. "We may also do three Busch North races at New Hampshire International Speedway and the Busch North race at Watkins Glen because they're all on open (NASCAR Busch Series) weekends. That would be a good schedule, we think, for our first year."
Marsh said the program was geared up to begin in the ALLTEL 200 at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham next February.
All the cars in the field for the Jiffy Lube Miami 300 carried small "In memory of Dick Moroso" stickers on the "b-pillars" behind the driver's window to recognize the 1989 NASCAR Busch Series championship winning car owner who lost a battle with cancer last weekend in Connecticut.
Casey Atwood didn't lead a lap from his first Bud Pole starting position in the NASCAR Busch Series, but he was still tickled with a 14th place finish. "It wasn't a bad day," he said of his Lysol Chevrolet. "We couldn't quite get it hooked up at the beginning of the race, and it was real loose. At the end, we had it hooked up good, but when we'd get behind somebody, it'd push bad because of the aerodynamics."
Dick Trickle was an early accident victim when he mis-judged the position a competitor heading into Homestead's tough turn three. "Hermie (Sadler) got a good line on me down on the back straightaway and I didn't think he was up on me that far and we got together going into three," Trickle said. "My car got knocked sideways. It's half my own fault, you know. I probably needed to stay out and I hadn't quite cleared him, but I didn't think he was up far enough where he'd back out of it and he did. It was one of those 'hold the pole' deals, and evidently I didn't hold the pole just right that time."
Andy Santerre, of Cherryfield, Maine, had a frustrating weekend end when he was named the 1998 Raybestos Rookie of the Year in the NASCAR Busch Series. Santerre ended up with 1756 points and topped fast-closing Dave Blaney by 49 points. Rounding out the top-five in the rookie points were Kevin Grubb (1644), Wayne Grubb (1533) and Blaise Alexander (1408). "Well, we had a decent run going after we started last in the Monro Muffler-Brakes Chevy," Santerre said. "We had worked our way up to mid-pack and we lost a motor here today. It's unfortunate, the last race of the year. But we did clinch the rating of rookie of the year, so we had a good day overall. "Going to all these tracks for the first time was real tough. And learning these radial tires - these Goodyear tires are great tires - but they're different that what I was used to in the north. I've learned a lot this year about the tires, about the race cars, about the bodies and the aerodynamics and the bigger race tracks. Hopefully I can apply what I've learned next year and get some poles and win some races."
Todd Bodine experienced a recurrence of the brake trouble that had nagged him at Gateway International Raceway in the No. 30 Slim Jim Chevrolet. "In St. Louis, we lost the brakes right at the end of the race and so we replaced both master cylinders," Bodine said while watching his crew work on the problem. "But here we are again with a leaking master cylinder." Bodine returned to the track and finished 38th, 35 laps down to the leader.
Mike Swaim Jr. was a surprise winner of the Pennzoil 50 for the Goody's Dash Series, a part of the NASCAR Touring Division, at Homestead. Goody's Dash champion Robert Huffman took the checkered and black flags a scant car length in front of Swaim, but he was penalized for apparent contact with leader David Hutto coming to take the white flag and Swaim gained the victory while Huffman finished 15th. Swaim led defending race winner Danny Bagwell, Bud Pole winner Jake Hobgood, Eddie Kelley and Will Hobgood at the finish. "The crew informed me over the radio that we won that race," Swaim said in victory lane. "I saw the 16 (Hutto) spin (but) I can't point any fingers or name any names because I didn't really see how or who made the initial contact. "I had a great car to start the race. The Pennzoil Pontiac was real fast. We were just riding. So I figured we would have a lot for 'em. The car tightened up so much toward the end of the race. I was doing everything I could to stay on their back bumper. The guys did a good job and worked hard and deserve the win. Even though maybe we were more lucky than more fast today. But they still deserve it."
Stanton Barrett, who was impressive in a fast second-round qualifying effort to get into the Jiffy Lube Miami 300, said he was exploring a number of options for 1999, including the No. 50 Dr Pepper Ford he drove at Homestead to a 29th place finish.
In a press conference held Sunday morning, officials of the Richard Petty Driving Experience announced that they will add the Miami-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex to their roster of tracks where they hold driving and ride-along programs. The first driving and ride-along programs will be held on the 1.5-mile Homestead oval from Jan. 27-31, 1999. Richard Petty Driving Experience will hold such programs at 13 different race tracks across the country next year. "We did this for the average fan that sits there and watches all these cars running and says, 'I could do that,'" Hall of Fame driver and RPDE owner Richard Petty said. "For people that really wanted to get a feel, but can't afford a race car . . . they're able to come to the Richard Petty Driving Experience and get that feel." Petty conducts a variety of programs Homestead, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Walt Disney World Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway, Pikes Peak International Raceway, Daytona International Speedway, New Hampshire International Speedway, Nazareth Speedway, The Milwaukee Mile and Gateway International Raceway.
Richard Petty, whose son Kyle Petty runs the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, also commented on grandson Adam Petty stepping into the major leagues of stock car racing. Adam Petty is expected to announce a full-season program in the NASCAR Busch Series this week. "We felt really good," Petty said of the youngster's Homestead qualifying effort. "Fifty-five or 60 cars here and you've got qualifying and that's the first thing you've got to do. This is just his third Busch race. He had trouble with the first two, I think he blew engines, so they're just trying to get him some seat time in Busch so they can go on to next year and see what's going on. "We want him to run some bigger and nicer tracks so that he gets some experience before we get to Daytona, so this is one of the ones that they were shooting for. It's the last race, it's one of the biggest races that NASCAR runs -- a huge race track Adam had never been on. So right now we feel pretty good about it." They felt better when Petty finished 27th, two laps down to the leaders.
Source: NASCAR Online