HOMESTEAD, Fla. (April 2, 1998) The following are notes and quotes from the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Florida Dodge Dealers 400K at Miami-Dade Homestead Motor Sports Complex. With 75 days between the season-opening Chevy...
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (April 2, 1998)
The following are notes and quotes from the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Florida Dodge Dealers 400K at Miami-Dade Homestead Motor Sports Complex. With 75 days between the season-opening Chevy Trucks Challenge and Saturday's Florida Dodge Dealers 400 at Miami-Dade Homestead Motor Sports Complex, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series still hasn't settled down to its regular-season rumble.
New paint schemes and team combinations were much in evidence in the garage area at Homestead, but a long shot to score on Saturday might be Terry Cook, who drives the No. 88 SealMaster/PBA Chevrolet, and his new crew chief. SealMaster Racing has secured the services of crew chief Gary Showalter, who formerly was Kenny Irwin's crew chief at Liberty Racing. That duo won a pair of races in Irwin's Cintas Rookie of the Year campaign in 1997, including wins at Homestead and on the fast Texas Motor Speedway.
Ironically for Showalter, who also engineered Butch Miller's 1995 victory in the Liberty Racing truck, he doesn't have much more of a commute to get to work despite the switch. While he was working for Liberty, it was a 20-minute ride to the Cleveland, Ohio, area. Now he's going 20 minutes in another direction to the SealMaster facility in Sandusky, Ohio.
Cook, who won his first series Bud Pole last season at Flemington Speedway, was eighth-quickest Thursday with a lap of 36.723 seconds, an average speed of 147.047 mph. In all, 51 of the 56 trucks on the property unofficially bested Joe Ruttman's track record of 38.947 seconds, 140.221 mph. But the reconfiguration of the 1.5-mile track from square corners to constant radius turns, plus new pavement, was expected to account for that much of a difference. Chuck Bown has yet to miss a race in the 1998 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Of course, after winning the Bud Pole at the Chevy Trucks Challenge, the series has been idle. But when a sponsor loss forced team owner Jack Roush to "lay off" Bown, he was forced to scramble for rides.
That effort has paid off in what is a two-race deal, at this point, with CSG Racing in the No. 57 Ford owned by Kerry Scherer and Briggs Cunningham. Bown, who logged the 15th-quickest time, will also run the Chevy Trucks Desert Star Classic at Phoenix International Raceway on April 19.
Roush Team Manager Max Jones said the organization is still heavily pursuing sponsorship for "Bown's team," while teammate Ruttman actually drives the No. 99 Exide Ford formerly wheeled by the former NASCAR Winston West Series and NASCAR Busch Series champion. Canadian Randy MacDonald is driving Dick Greenfield's Dodge Ram at Homestead, after serving as crew chief for versatile dirt/pavement driver Billy "The Kid" Pauch in last season's outings. Both drivers ran the No. 06 truck two weeks ago in testing but it was understood that MacDonald, who has experience in the NASCAR Winston Cup and NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division, as well as ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series and northern Late Model tours, would run at Homestead. Jim Sauter, who has been a popular test pilot in a variety of series of late, spent Thursday practicing son Jay's back-up No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Chevrolet at Homestead. Sauter, who assisted numerous Chevy teams at the manufacturer's test in February, said he drove a handful of laps while he and Jay split time in the "3T" truck. "This is a brand new truck, Jay's back-up truck, so we wanted to make sure there were no leaks and squeaks, and to shake all the bugs out," the elder Sauter said. "The new track layout is nice -- a lot better."
With the day being an "optional day" for truck teams, the Richard Childress Racing team was free to run both trucks, since Jim Sauter, usually a True Value Firebird IROC Series test driver, was available. As rumored earlier this season, Rhode Island driver Rob Rizzo is at Homestead in a second Liberty Racing Ford, numbered 98 and carrying Hastings Premium Filters decals. Rizzo, a Cintas Rookie candidate a year ago who was banged up in an accident at the California Speedway, will run from 10 to 12 races as a teammate to 1998 Cintas Rookie contender Wayne Anderson. Scott Lagasse, the former SCCA national champion from St. Augustine, Fla., who ran a partial NASCAR Busch Series schedule in 1997, hopes to make his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series start since 1996 at Homestead. He was 33rd-quickest in practice in the No. 81 Raynor Garage Doors Ford owned by Marty Walsh. It also marked the reappearance of Raynor, the former Indy car team sponsor. Mike Garvey of Norcross, Ga., a noted NASCAR Late Model driver with experience in the NASCAR Busch Series, hopes to make his truck debut at Homestead. Garvey was 30th-quickest in practice driving the No. 68 Metro Milwaukee Auto Auction Chevrolet. Ron Hornaday, driver of the No. 16 NAPA Brakes Chevrolet, is already a winner this weekend in South Florida. On Wednesday night, Hornaday edged Cintas Rookie contender Wayne Anderson in a go-kart race on the ice at the Miami Arena in between the first and second periods of the Florida Panthers-Montreal Canadiens NHL game. His celebration of donuts, of course, came despite a broken wheel suffered in his last-lap pass of Anderson. Doug Richert resigned as crew chief for Anderson and the No. 84 Liberty Racing/Porter-Cable Power Tools Ford, to remain with the promising NASCAR Winston Cup operation of driver Kevin Lepage and team owners Joe and Shirley Falk.
"I think there's something worthwhile here or I wouldn't have left a strong truck deal," Richert said last week.
Troy Selberg, formerly crew chief for Impact Motorsports and driver Stacy Compton, will work the Homestead event on a one-race basis. Meanwhile, Chicagoan Dale Hirschfield, an ARCA veteran and former Purdue University linebacker, has been named crew chief for Liberty's second driver, Rob Rizzo. Hirschfield's father, Dave, drove in NASCAR's old Convertible Division. Scott Treichler, team manager at Roehrig Motorsports, gets a new title, crew chief, following the resignation of Bob Hustler. Hustler took a non-racing position with Dinan Performance, a BMW aftermarket tuner located in Mountain View, Calif.
Rich Parks now becomes chief mechanic for the Pennzoil Ford and second-year driver Tony Raines.
"We expect the change to especially help us at the track, so the chief mechanic and chief engineer (Michael Kadlecik) can focus on the truck and not be distracted," said team owner Kurt Roehrig. Auto Trim Design, based in Indianapolis, will sponsor Mittler Brothers Motorsports and driver Doug George of Atwater, Calif., the former NASCAR Winston West champion, on their No. 26 Ford, beginning with the Florida Dodge Dealers 400. The company is recognized as a leader in design and application of sophisticated graphics and appearance packages for trucks and automobiles. It has 400 distributors. While Prime Performance Motorsports named Barry Bodine to drive its Damron's Auto Parts Chevrolet in the Florida Dodge Dealers 400, the truck appeared at Homestead in black carrying No. 7. PPMI, the No. 63 team, reportedly canceled its entry and Geoff Bodine re-submitted one for the No. 7 truck, giving the team the possible protection of his 20th-place standing in the 1997 truck owner standings, which are still be used to determine provisional starting positions.
Associate sponsor for the upcoming event is Spirit of Florida, an organization affiliated with the U.S. Olympic bobsled team -- which won a Silver Medal in the recent Nagano games aboard a sled designed by Bob Cuneo of Chassis Dynamics and the driver's father, former Daytona 500 winner Geoff. Source: NASCAR Online