BUSCH: Gary Bechtel Looks Toward Winston Cup Series in 2001

Bechtel aiming to move up in 2001 by Dave Rodman RICHMOND, Va. (May 14, 1999) Jeff Purvis has run well for Diamond Ridge Motorsports this year. Diamond Ridge Motorsports owner Gary Bechtel wants to be back in NASCAR Winston Cup Series...

Bechtel aiming to move up in 2001 by Dave Rodman

RICHMOND, Va. (May 14, 1999) Jeff Purvis has run well for Diamond Ridge Motorsports this year. Diamond Ridge Motorsports owner Gary Bechtel wants to be back in NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing by the year 2001. But he knows, for once, that he has to slow down to achieve his goal. Bechtel saw control of his race team, if not evading him, getting further away -- so he made a "doer's" move.

He relocated his office to the race shop complex in Mooresville, N.C., and he's now deeply involved on a day-to-day basis. He knows that it's the only way he's comfortable doing business.

"The big thing for me personally was that I had a lot of people involved in the various aspects of the team and the details were getting away from me," said Bechtel, whose 'big' business interest is in construction on an international scale. "And that was very frustrating to me."

Bechtel, who was at Richmond International Raceway on Friday to work with his No. 4 Lance Snacks Chevrolet with driver Jeff Purvis, said his organization has concentrated on Purvis' ride for the last month-and-a-half, while still creeping ahead. Prior to that, his anxiety at thrusting ahead and succeeding had cost him even more frustration.

"The last two months our focus has been on the 4 team," he said. "They have been running better -- I guess they're seventh in the points. At the same time, we have been looking to rekindle the 29 team, Curtis Markham's team."

And through all this, Diamond Ridge has instituted what Bechtel calls his "technical support group."

"We're developing an in-house area to build our own chassis and hang our own bodies, and that group is 99 percent Winston Cup-caliber personnel," Bechtel said of the plan to have the first Diamond Ridge-built car ready for the October NASCAR Busch Series event at Lowe's Motor Speedway. "We ultimately hope to have that core group build all our cars, for both the Busch program and the Cup program."

Bechtel is particularly excited about the two races Markham will run, at Gateway International Raceway in September and in the inaugural Diamond Ridge "house car," at Lowe's on Oct. 9.

"We're very excited about the sponsorship for Gateway, which is a couple pieces of paper away from being finalized," Bechtel said. "After that we're going to grind away at putting together a program for Curtis -- we'd really like to see him in a car full-time next year."

But next year is a long way, and a lot of slow, sure steps in the future for Bechtel and Diamond Ridge. After an abortive two-car start to this season, in which he said the team simply "wasn't ready," so it has pulled back to ensure it achieves success before it makes the next step.

"Combining the two groups was the best way to go," he said of the 'merger' of Markham's and Purvis' teams. "We have now established the race teams as the 'customer' and the core group as the supplier.

"It has been a very enlightening experience for me personally, but we have found that we make more progress by standardizing and controlling the process. We expect to see the full benefit of it in the next couple months.

"Performance on the race track is the most critical element as we look ahead to 2001," the owner said. "The Busch teams need to perform, and if they do we'll look at moving them up when they're ready.

"I've created most of the problems we've had, pushing too fast to go too far. Consistency makes you good -- not a win here and a win there. The more races we can perform consistently, and if we have a problem, at least know exactly what happened and be able to correct it, that will help my comfort level."

Purvis didn't hurt that Friday night, finishing 9th despite crashing after taking the checkered flag. He remained 7th in the point standings in the bargain.

Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Jeff Purvis