Parker, Mark III go separate ways by Shawn A. Akers CHARLOTTE, N.C. (April 14, 1998) NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division driver Hank Parker Jr. and Mark III Motorsports have parted ways following an unsuccessful early season in which...
Parker, Mark III go separate ways by Shawn A. Akers
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (April 14, 1998) NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division driver Hank Parker Jr. and Mark III Motorsports have parted ways following an unsuccessful early season in which the team qualified for only two of the first eight races.
Accidents at the last two events prevented Parker from making qualifying attempts and were contributing factors to Parker leaving the team, said Neil Browder, crew chief of the unsponsored No. 78 Chevrolet.
"Actually, Hank has just decided to do something else," Browder said. "I think he's going to do some All Pro races, and he might even try to put together his own team with his father (Hank Parker Sr.), but I'm not really sure."
Parker Jr., who suffered a concussion in a hard accident in practice for the April 4 Coca-Cola 300 at Texas Motor Speedway, hit the wall again the following week in practice for the Galaxy Foods 300 at Hickory Motor Speedway.
In fact Parker, a former standout in the Slim Jim All Pro Series, a NASCAR Touring Division, had run only two of the first eight races of the season, at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham and at Darlington Raceway. His best finish was 28th in the Diamond Hill Plywood 200 at Darlington.
"The entire season's been tough on everybody around here, and Hank just came up with the decision that he wanted to do something different," Browder said. "Hank's got a lot of talent. We're just sorry that things didn't work out for us."
Parker, who didn't do any further damage to his physical condition after the wreck at Hickory, could not be reached for comment on Tuesday morning. Browder said Parker was "just really sore" following the Hickory incident.
Browder said that the team has yet to sign a driver to race in the Touchstone Energy 300 at Talladega Superspeedway, the next event on the NASCAR Busch Series schedule, on April 25.
The team has, however, talked to a few interested drivers, including Nathan Buttke, about driving the car. Buttke, a young NASCAR Late Model Stock Car veteran from Randleman, N.C., drove the No. 78 in 10 of the 17 races it competed in in 1997 and scored a best finish of 11th in August at Bristol Motor Speedway and a best qualifying effort of third at Myrtle Beach Speedway, where he contended for the win.
"Our phone's been ringing off the hook," said Browder, whose team used five drivers, including Parker and Buttke, in 1997. "We are planning on going to Talladega, but after that we may have to wait and see. I don't think we're going to do the northern tour (New Hampshire on May 9 and Nazareth, Pa., on May 17), but we're definitely going to do Charlotte (May 24) and then we'll probably run the rest of the year.
"We've got six cars, and that's plenty for us, but it's tough without sponsorship to run in this series, so we'll have to wait and see."
The No. 78 Mark III Motorsports team has been running without major sponsorship the entire season after running Carquest Auto Parts colors for most of the events it ran in 1997.
Source: NASCAR Online