Chad Harris Martinsville preview

MARTINSVILLE, VA (Sept. 17, 2001) -- Last year Chad Harris closed out his best racing season ever by winning the pole for the Taco Bell 300 at Martinsville Speedway. This year he hopes he can manage another solid performance at Martinsville to...

MARTINSVILLE, VA (Sept. 17, 2001) -- Last year Chad Harris closed out his best racing season ever by winning the pole for the Taco Bell 300 at Martinsville Speedway.

This year he hopes he can manage another solid performance at Martinsville to help turn around what he considers a less-than-stellar season.

When Harris came to Martinsville in 2000 for the Taco Bell 300 Late Model Stock Car race, he had eight wins at New River Valley Speedway under his belt. He had also come within an eyelash of winning the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series Blue Ridge Region championship. He finished second to Wade Day of Blountsville, Tenn. in the closest finish in the 18-year history of the series.

Harris bounced back from that second-place regional finish to blow away the field in qualifying for the Taco Bell 300.

"The pole was very big, very big. Most of us who grew up in Virginia or the Carolinas, just to walk through the gate at Martinsville is big, but to win the pole there ^Å " said Harris, who is from Stuarts Draft, Va., a small town located a few miles east of Staunton, Va.

"To do something like that makes you really confident ^Å it really boosts your confidence. You know how tough it is to run there. You know the best on the east coast is there and if you make one mistake you might not make the field."

Harris and more than 100 other Late Model Stock drivers will be gunning for the 2001 Taco Bell 300 pole position on Saturday, September 29. The Taco Bell 300 is set for a day later, Sunday, September 30.

Harris didn't get to celebrate his pole win very long a year ago. Forty-three laps into the race he got tangled up with a lap car and his day was over.

And while most drivers would be envious of Harris' results this season at New River, he doesn't think he's done anything outstanding since last fall's Taco Bell 300 pole.

"We've struggled this year. We're still in the running for the New River championship, but last year nothing seemed to go wrong. This year we've had a lot of bad luck," said Harris, who has visited victory lane only once this season.

Those struggles would be washed away by a strong run in the Taco Bell 300, but Harris is smart enough to know that last year's results mean absolutely nothing this time around.

"Martinsville is so tough, you can come back with the exact same car, the exact same setup and not make the race," said the 33-year-old Harris. "Everything came together for us last year and we had the good lap. Hopefully we can get back in the top 20 and race for a win this time." Qualifying for the Taco Bell 300 begins at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29 to determine the top 20 starting position. The fastest qualifier will receive $1,000 from Chatlee Boats.

On Sunday, September 30, the Taco Bell 300 kicks off four 25-lap qualifying races with the top five drivers from each race filling out positions 21-40 in the starting field. There will be two provisionals given to complete the 42-car starting lineup for the 200-lap feature race.

At lap 100, of the 200-lap feature, the race will be stopped for a 10-minute break and the leader at lap 100 will be presented the $5,000 BB&T Award. Also at the break, several of the top cars will be inverted. The race will continue until the caution is displayed at lap 190 for a single file restart for the final 10 green flag laps.

Tickets for the Taco Bell 300 are $20 each for adults and $5 for children ages 6-12. All seats are unreserved.

The Taco Bell 300 is the first of two weekends of racing at Martinsville Speedway this fall.

The NASCAR Winston Cup Series will run the Old Dominion 500 on Sunday, October 14 at 12:30 p.m. On Saturday, October 13, the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Series will run the Advance Auto Parts 200 beginning at 2:45 p.m. Tickets for the Advance Auto Parts 200 are $30 each and children ages 6-12 get in for $5. All seats are unreserved.

Great reserved seats are available in the towers for $40-$65. Tickets can be ordered by calling the speedway ticket office toll free at 1-877-722-3849 or (540) 956-3151. Tickets also can be ordered online at www.martinsvillespeedway.com.

-MS-

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Series NASCAR , Stock car