Food City 250 Friday Notebook By Dave Rodman BRISTOL, Tenn. (Aug. 21, 1998) Notes and quotes from the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division Food City 250 at Bristol Motor Speedway: Dale Earnhardt Jr. experienced all the highs and...
Food City 250 Friday Notebook
By Dave Rodman
BRISTOL, Tenn. (Aug. 21, 1998) Notes and quotes from the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division Food City 250 at Bristol Motor Speedway:
Dale Earnhardt Jr. experienced all the highs and lows of a NASCAR season in one race at Bristol Friday night. The NASCAR Busch Series point leader was involved in an on-track skirmish with race winner Kevin Lepage early in the race and the trip into the wall ultimately landed him in 15th at the finish, four laps down. "The car was awesome, again, like it is every week," Earnhardt said. "To have things like that happen, it makes you sick." Earnhardt made out in the end, though, as second place point man Matt Kenseth ended up 34th after having more than his share of off-beat adventures, including at least one spin. "I thought we'd lose some points, but I think we gained some points, instead," said Earnhardt, who picked up 57 points in the race to bump his lead to 95 points.
Lepage was contrite about the incident with Earnhardt in his post-race winner's interviews, writing it off to "pure Bristol" action. "I hate it for him, plain and simple, because he's racing for a championship and I know what that's about," Lepage said in Bristol's media center following Victory Lane activities. "He opened the door and I just dove into it -- it was just short-track racing. I was racing for the win, even if it was only 50 laps into the race."
Todd Bodine was another who was claiming "typical Bristol" after he ran into the top-five in the Slim Jim Chevrolet. "When you start 40th and finish fourth, you know you've managed to miss all the wrecks and that's all we did," Bodine said. "We didn't have a great car, but we were just able to be in the right place at the right time."
Tim Fedewa was another who did himself some favors in the point standings by finishing fifth after dodging some on-track mayhem. He was also glad to see this one-day event end. "We fought the car all day, trying to get it qualified," said the driver of the Kleenex Chevrolet. "Finally, the track did come to us, quite a bit. "If we could have made it through the last, big wreck, we might have been third or fourth. We were fourth when it happened, but (Ken) Schrader bumped us in the back end and we lost some valuable track position." Crew chief Vic Kangas seconded that notion. "We were some laps faster than the leader was running near the end," said Kangas, who's marshaled Fedewa to two victories since joining the team earlier this season.
The Krogh brothers' Clearwater Forest Industries team had a rough day at Bristol. First, Mark Krogh backed his No. 80 Chevrolet into the wall coming off Turn 4 in Bud Pole Qualifying and was forced to take a provisional to make it into the show. In the race, both he and Jeff Krogh were involved in at least one accident apiece before Jeff's No. 56 was parked due to engine failure. Mark, ultimately, was put out by the same accident that claimed Bud Pole winner Steve Grissom.
Mike McLaughlin was another who could've had a better day. First, he wrote off his primary Goulds Pumps Chevrolet in an accident early in the morning's first practice. In the race, he looked to be easily running to the upper half of the top-10 when he was taken out in the frontstretch pig- pile that wiped out front-runners Robert Pressley, Elton Sawyer and Mark Green, among others. The team's indomitable will was shown when it put McLaughlin back in the silent car, then pushed it across the start/finish line on pit road to gain another lap, which in turn gained him a position or two. McLaughlin also picked up ground on Kenseth in the point standings, although he still trails him by 80 points.
Tony Stewart was treated and released from Wellmont Bristol Regional Medical Center in Bristol, Va., where he was transported following the Food City 250 complaining of neck pain. It was all that was sore after he was knocked out in the same accident that claimed Pressley. "Nowhere to go," he said. "We got caught up in something that maybe shouldn't have happened. We had a good car, good tires and we were heading for a good finish. Too bad, but I think Joe Gibbs was probably happy that we were a contender before that happened. The things that happen in auto racing."
Lepage was asked if his new responsibilities in Jack Roush's PRIMESTAR Ford on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, where Lepage is a Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate, would effect his NASCAR Busch Series schedule. "I don't think, after tonight, that Jack is going to do anything to get me out of this ChannelLock Chevrolet any time soon," said a grinning Lepage.
The Green brothers triple-teamed the NASCAR Busch Series for the 13th time in NASCAR's No. 2 series, when they took the green flag. The three brothers from Owensboro, Ky., first competed together in the NASCAR Busch Series on Aug. 4, 1995, when Mark Green made his debut at Indianapolis Raceway Park. The last time the three raced together was Nov. 3, 1996, at Miami-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex. Their results could've been better, as David Green's 10th-place finish made him the only Green brother running at the finish after Mark and Jeff were eliminated in accidents.
NASCAR Busch Series driver Gary Laton was released from St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ypsilanti, Mich., Thursday, one week after suffering in juries in an accident during Bud Pole Qualifying for the Pepsi 200 presented by DeVilbiss at Michigan Speedway in Brooklyn. Laton, who holds the Michigan Speedway ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series qualifying record, returned to North Carolina where he will continue rehabilitation at the Charlotte Institute of Rehabilitation. A statement released by Michigan Speedway said "doctors have been encouraged by Laton's rapid recovery and have recommended a short-term, in-patient rehabilitation program followed by outpatient treatment." "We appreciate everyone's thoughts and prayers for Gary and our family during his recovery," said Kristi Laton, Gary's wife. "We're extremely appreciative of the excellent care Gary received at the hospital and at the track."
Source: NASCAR Online