LARRY PEARSON WINS MARK III VANS 200 DARLINGTON, S.C. -- Larry Pearson scored his first NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division victory since 1988 in the Mark III Vans 200 on Saturday at Darlington Raceway. Pearson averaged...
LARRY PEARSON WINS MARK III VANS 200
DARLINGTON, S.C. -- Larry Pearson scored his first NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division victory since 1988 in the Mark III Vans 200 on Saturday at Darlington Raceway.
Pearson averaged 108.087 mph for 1 hour, 51 minutes and 28 seconds in the Martin Motorsports Stanley Tools Chevrolet. He was .28-seconds ahead of Busch Series point leader Johnny Benson after 147 laps of the 1.337-mile oval. Mark Martin finished third. There were nine caution flags for 43 laps and seven lead changes among six drivers.
MARK III VANS 200 RACE NOTES
RYAN PEMBERTON (crew chief #92 Stanley Tools Chevrolet - 1st) -- (Had an emotional meeting on pit road with his brother, NASCAR Winston Cup crew chief Robin Pemberton, where the brothers embraced and exchanged high fives. Also received numerous congratulations going down pit road to Victory Lane.) We've been real good -- everywhere we've been we've been real good. But, we just couldn't get a break. Finally, today, we said we're going to make our own break. We pitted early and got our tires on there, made our break and made things happen this time. Last week (in Nashville) I waited for something to happen and it didn't. This week we went after it and we got it. There was not a single thing wrong with the race car today. We run this good last time but we didn't get a chance to finish the race because we got rained-out (in the 1994 Gatorade 200). Other than that, we just did the same things we did last year and it paid off. Oh man, it (1st win as a crew chief) feels great!
LARRY PEARSON (#92 Stanley Tools Chevrolet - 1st) -- It's been '88 since I've been in Victory Lane. We've won a lot of short tracks, but this is our first superspeedway for me. It's the first win ever for Martin Motorsports and Stanley Tools. We had some good performances at the start of the year, but the guys stood behind me. I knew we had a good team. It just took time to come around. This feels great! it couldn't happen at a better place!
I told you I didn't like the new paving job because it took away my groove in three and four; but I also told you that as the race got going the groove would move back up and I could get back where I needed to be. That's exactly what happened. Coming in early for our pit stop definitely made the difference. Ryan Pemberton made that call. My hat's off to him. He's a young guy, but he's got a lot of smarts about him. He said we were just as good on old tires as we were on new ones, so we took that chance. This goes to him -- it was his call. I knew I could out-run 'em at the end, but the dad-gummed lapped traffic kept gettin' in the way. I kept catchin' 'em at the wrong spot. My dad always told me if it looks like you're going to catch a car in the middle of the corner, just back off a little bit so you can catch 'em coming off the corner. That kept going through my mind and going through my mind, but I couldn't time it just right. That's the way he used to do it here (when he won a Darlington record 10 races), I don't guess I can do it like he could! After the last three races we had, I was looking forward to coming to Darlington...until I qualified back in 36th. But, I knew they'd put a good car under me and I knew as the race got to going it'd get going faster and faster.
ROBIN PEMBERTON (crew chief #2 Miller Genuine Draft Ford) -- (On his brother's first victory as a crew chief.) I was thrilled to death, man! It was about the same feeling as if I'd won the race myself. That was pretty cool. I had to get down (from the transporter) with about five laps to go -- I couldn't watch. We've worked together with Jack Roush and with Sabco (Kyle Petty). Ryan and I are really close. I don't know, man... It gets you all teary- eyed when something like that happens (confirming his reaction on pit road, when the brothers embraced). That was just great!
ELTON SAWYER (#38 Ford Motor Credit Ford - 38th) -- It's really unfortunate, for the guys to have worked so hard... The race car was really good. We had just gotten four tires, and I came up on a lapped car there, coming onto the front straightaway, and the 75 car just got into the back of me. I about had it saved and he hit me again. I'm trying not to be angry. It's still the same Darlington... It's a brand new surface and it's awful fast but it's the same Darlington. We hadn't run that many laps -- we had to run 147 laps! You just need to be patient.
JEFF GREEN (#3 GM Goodwrench Service Chevrolet - 27th) -- I had an awful good car today. The longer we went, the better it got. It's a shame. I hit it on the front end and on the rear end (in accident with Dale Williams). We'll just get it back together and try to get us some points, that's all. I hate it for Goodwrench and all these guys -- they put so much into today. I was just trying to drive my heart out and win 'em one today, but we'll have to wait until Bristol, I guess. When you hit the wall at Darlington, you're going to bend something. I got into it with a lapped car -- and I wasn't the only one to have trouble like that. The track was pretty much one groove and you need to give and take when it's like that. There was plenty of taking, but not much giving. Too bad, we had a good car today.
MORGAN SHEPHERD (#21 Cheerwine Ford - 36th) -- The car was really running good early, then all of a sudden the car started getting loose. I thought I had a tire going down, so we came in and changed tires. The left rear tire had equalized and had 44 pounds of air in it, and it's only supposed to have 34-35 pounds. We went back out and our mirror came loose and was flopping around, so we came in and fixed that. The last thing that happened was we broke the end of the crankshaft off, and that put us out. It just wasn't our day.
HERMIE SADLER (#1 DeWalt Industrial Tools Chevrolet - 29th) -- (Car spent several laps in the pits replacing a rachet in the rear end.)
PATTY MOISE (#40 Dial-Purex Ford) -- We never really had the handle all day. It was loose and we kept tightening it up and tightening it up, but it was never right.
TERRY LABONTE (#14 MW Windows Chevrolet - 32nd) -- I don't really know what happened over there (in accident with #90, #97 and #25). Some guys had passed us on the outside, and there was a lapped car in there. The 97 cut into me, near the end of the backstretch. He hit me in the right front, and my car wouldn't turn -- it turned to the right. I don't know if it broke the tie rod or what... Damn right it was a hard hit, when I hit the wall!
MIKE WALLACE (#90 Duron Paints Ford - 33rd) -- I don't know what happened. I'd have to look at it again myself to tell you exactly what happened. I'm not sure... I'll have to take a look at it. I guess I must've taken a hard lick over there! We were in a position to go to the front to win the race, you know? That's all I remember about the deal. Then it all happened so damn quickly!
DAVID GREEN (#44 Slim Jim Chevrolet - 31st) -- When we pitted, a lug nut fell off or something. The guys are doing the best they could, I guess. Awesome, I mean that car was perfect! Then, I must've run over something because it knocked everything off the front of the engine, the belts and all, and it locked-up.
CHAD LITTLE (#23 Harris Teeter Ford - 4th) -- I'm real happy. Our pit stops went well. Fourth is fine. Toward the end of the race, there seemed to be more strong cars than there were at the beginning of the race. The Harris Teeter Ford was pretty much perfect all day long. There was not much we needed to do to change it. It was a little tight here, a little loose there. But the car ran really well. (On the new pavement.) The tires just don't go away like they used to. That changes pit strategy a little bit. You can run really hard all the time.
TIM FEDEWA (#55 Duragloss Ford - 23rd) -- (ON PITTING ON THE BACK STRAIGHT) We missed the time to pick our pit assignment. I knew it and the crew chief knew it. I'll bet it doesn't happen again. Hey, you snooze, you lose. We've pitted on the back before and come away with a good finish. Still, to win the pole and then goof up like this isn't a good thing to do. (post-race) There were some people not using their heads out there. Toward the end, everybody was going at it, it's just Darlington. I've done it myself, but it still doesn't make it any better for me. We're happy to have the weekend we've had. We ran good all weekend. We've got nothing to be ashamed of. The guys, even after we crashed, put the car back together and it was still pretty decent. We're going to leave here with a positive attitude, and get 'em in Bristol.
JEREMY MAYFIELD (#50 UAW Ford - 40th) -- We broke the transmission. The car was tight when we started the race. We were just waiting until a pit stop when we could work on it. Then, the transmission broke.
ROBBIE REISER (#17 FDP Brakes Chevrolet - 42nd) -- We lost a pushrod on the start. The engine just kept getting worse so we parked it.
ANDY BELMONT (#46 Southland Transportation Ford - 39th) -- We burned a piston. This ended up being a pair of new experiences for me. I haven't driven for somebody else in a long time. This is a new team and they worked hard to make the car a lot better than it was when we unloaded it. I had never driven the new 9.5 to 1 (compression ratio) engine before. You've got to change your style because the power isn't there. It's like a Dash Series car because corner entry speed is critical and you can't cover up your mistakes with horsepower.
DALE WILLIAMS (#56 Leasco Investment Ford - 37th) -- I was trying to run with the leaders and I probably should have been running a little less than that. I guess the car got away from me. I got one heck of a 'Darlington Stripe' on it -- on the driver's side.
MIKE McLAUGHLIN (#34 French's/Black Flag Chevrolet - 16th) -- It was tough. The car was never right, and we couldn't compensate during the race. It was loose and then tight, and we never could get the car the way we wanted. At Atlanta (two weeks ago), we were fast, and the driving was almost effortless. Today I had to drive so much harder just to keep it off the fence. You work your butt off just to stay on the track!
MARK MARTIN (#60 Winn-Dixie Ford - 3rd) -- They just beat us on pit strategy today. They had backside pit stalls and they came in the caution before, and there were a bunch of long cautions there at the end, and we just couldn't beat them.
STEVE GRISSOM (#29 Meineke Chevrolet - 6th) -- It wasn't a bad run. We just kinda pitted a little too late, and it was kinda rough working back through traffic. All in all, the car ran good, handled good. We just came up a little short there at the end. It seemed like the longer we ran, the better we ran. We didn't really need all those cautions there at the end. They hurt us.
KIRK SHELMERDINE (#25 Big Johnson Chevrolet - 24th) -- I really don't know what happened in that turn three wreck. I was on the outside, where all the lapped cars are supposed to be in Busch races. They all stacked in there about three or four wide, and I didn't have nowhere to go. I couldn't slow down, they were pushing me from behind. They turned me around, I turned Mike Wallace around, and I think he's mad at me. I was in the only place I could get. It's a shame it banged the car up, and banged a bunch of other cars up. There wasn't any need for it.
RICK WILSON (#75 Food Country USA Ford - 14th) -- We ran good all day. The track is in such good shape, the tires were real good. Everybody was running so good that track position was the deal. Phil (Parsons) came in and changed two tires and got up there, and maybe that's something we should have considered.
JASON KELLER (#57 Budget Gourmet Chevrolet - 10th) -- We got into the top 10 in the last five laps. When you can run good here and bring the car home in one piece and not damaged, then it's a good day. This was a big plus for us.
PHIL PARSONS (#99 Luxaire Chevrolet - 5th) -- This was really all we had, a top five to top 10 car, all day. My crew made a good call about lap 85, figuring if we took on tires then we could make it all the way. If a yellow came out after that, then we could go for track position. It worked and that's how we did what we did. The cars with the fresh tires caught us there at the end. I want to congratulate Larry Pearson, he had the better car today.
JOHNNY BENSON (#74 Lipton Tea Chevrolet - 2nd) -- We started 25th and my crew chief, Steve Bird, told me to keep getting it on. That's what we did. We did mess up in the pits by me speeding down pit road. It was a good race for us. I think I was lucky to keep Mark Martin behind me there at the end. Darlington is always tough and this race wasn't any different.
KEVIN LEPAGE (#71 Vermont Teddy Bear Chevrolet - 9th) -- (ON HIS DARK BEARD) I may look a bit grizzly, but this beard may have gotten us the luck we had today. After we didn't make the Atlanta and Nashville races, I decided not to shave until we got a top 10. We did that today. We started 31st, took our time and got some breaks. I came up on one accident and was running 19th. The spotter told me to go low. I did and we ended up 10th on the restart. Things like that help.
TRACY LESLIE (#72 Detroit Gasket Chevrolet - 12th) -- We finished 11th with our backup car. Our number one car was awesome off the truck, but we had a bit of trouble with our power steering in Friday morning practice and I wrecked. We HAD to finish today and bring the car home in one piece -- we've got to race this one at Bristol. I messed up not making my move sooner. I didn't start moving up until about lap 100. I should have started to go forward about lap 80. This is a turn-around for the team.
DOUG HEVERON (#35 Cincinnati Milacron Ford - 13th) -- We'll take today's finish. We've struggled all year long. We just haven't had any luck whatsoever. We tried gambling there by pitting before some other people and holding them off, hoping for a long green. It's the first time I've finished here without a problem, and we're just tickled. We really needed a good run, the team needed it, I needed it. Hopefully we can carry it over to the next race.
ED BERRIER (#97 Mean Green Cleaner Chevrolet - 11th) -- We had a good car. I kinda messed up on qualifying, and we had one of the quickest cars. I thought we'd qualify in the top five, and wound up 13th. Some of those guys outsmarted us on pit stops a little bit, and got us back in traffic. Then we got in an accident, but we kept clawing and got back in the top 10, then after we ran a few laps the car got so tight it wouldn't turn, so we backed off. (Asked to describe the multi-car incident going into turn three.) It was a big wreck.