ALLTEL 200 Friday notebook By Shawn A. Akers ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (Feb. 19, 1999) Notes and quotes Friday leading up to Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division ALLTEL 200 at North Carolina Speedway: Never in a million years did...
ALLTEL 200 Friday notebook By Shawn A. Akers
ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (Feb. 19, 1999) Notes and quotes Friday leading up to Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division ALLTEL 200 at North Carolina Speedway:
Never in a million years did Randy LaJoie think he would be teammates with David Green. The two aren't driving for the same team this week, but they are linked indirectly through associations with James Finch.
Finch is the owner of LaJoie's No. 1 Bob Evans Chevrolet, while Green drives the No. 41 AFG Industries Chevrolet, owned by Larry Hedrick. Finch is helping the Hedrick team field a competitive operation.
LaJoie and Green battled fiercely for the 1996 NASCAR Busch Series championship before LaJoie prevailed.
"If you'd have asked me three years ago that David Green and I would eventually be teammates, if you want to really call it that, I'd have said you were nuts," said LaJoie, whose team announced a sponsorship agreement with Bob Evans Restaurants Friday morning.
"But I'll tell you what, I'm really looking forward to it because David can really drive a race car. If I can help him out there and he can help me out there, that's going to be great. It'll be nice to have someone as experienced as him to be able to rely on."
That association was supposed to have started this Saturday, but because Green's is a new team with no previous year's owner points, he wasn't able to make the field after the rainout of Bud Pole Qualifying on Friday.
While Andy Santerre still lies in a bed at Wake Forest University Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem, N.C., at least he has kept a good attitude. The driver of the No. 47 Chevrolet broke the tibial plateau in his right leg during a crash in the early stages of last Saturday's NAPA Auto Parts 300 at Daytona International Speedway, and is expected to be out until at least May.
Santerre has received numerous cards, letters and phone calls from well-wishers since he was hospitalized. He had surgery on Monday to repair his injuries.
"I had a couple of rough days earlier in the week, but I'm doing fine now," Santerre said from the hospital on Friday. "I was hoping that I could get out of the hospital today, and then they told me Sunday, but now, it may be Monday or Tuesday. They want to get me started on a physical therapy program, and I might not be able to do that until early next week. I'd like to go home, but the doctors know best."
Santerre said he hopes to return to the NASCAR Busch Series by June, but that he'll work as hard as he can to make it sooner. He isn't in such a hurry that he'll put himself in jeopardy again, however.
Cards and letters can be sent to Santerre in care of his Fan Club at P.O. Box 994, Harrisburg, N.C., 28075.
In Santerre's absence, Mike Swaim Jr. is driving the No. 47. The former Goody's Dash Series, NASCAR Touring, champion was 48th in the first morning practice session, but Santerre said he had talked to members of his crew and that Swaim was more or less taking it easy the first time out.
In the second practice session, Swaim improved to 28th-fastest out of 57 cars with a speed of 149.828 mph. Matt Kenseth was fastest in the second morning practice session with a speed of 152.353 mph.
Tony Stewart still holds the NASCAR Busch Series ALLTEL 200 record at North Carolina Speedway. Stewart set that mark last year when he circled the 1.017-mile oval in a speed of 152.119 mph to grab the top spot for the February race. He finished second in the event, behind Kenseth.
David Green holds the overall North Carolina Speedway NASCAR Busch Series qualifying record of 153.419 mph from the fall race in 1994.
In the second morning practice for the NASCAR Busch Series cars, Kerry Earnhardt crashed his No. 40 Channellock Chevrolet in Turn 4. The team was forced to go to a backup car and Earnhardt will drive that car in Saturday's race.
Matt Kenseth won last year's event after starting the race in 27th position. The 27th to first move was the greatest leap ahead since Mark Martin started 17th on his way to Victory Lane in the 1993 event. Kenseth's starting position was the worst of any race winner on the circuit in 1998.
Source: NASCAR Online