Slim Jim All Pro Series Rookie Captures Big Prize Bristol, TN - June 21, 1997 - Port City Racing Rookie of the Year candidate Carl Long, carrying out the pit strategy of his crew chief Billy Chandler, earned the biggest win of his career as...
Slim Jim All Pro Series Rookie Captures Big Prize Bristol, TN - June 21, 1997 - Port City Racing Rookie of the Year candidate Carl Long, carrying out the pit strategy of his crew chief Billy Chandler, earned the biggest win of his career as he bested a stellar field of NASCAR Slim Jim All Pro Series drivers to win the $83,875 Pep Boys 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday night. The Roxboro, NC resident wheeled his Austin Snack Crackers Chevrolet Monte Carlo to a $14,275 payday. The win represents Long's first win in NASCAR Touring Series competition and the 29-year-old became the eighth different winner in eight Series events in 1997. After the 200 lap grind an exuberant Long exclaimed, "We got real lucky, Mike Cope had the best car but when he experienced his misfortune we were in a position to benefit from it. We won this race as a result of good preparation by my chassis builder (Rick Townsend) and crew chief (Chandler)," he noted. The event was punctuated with a couple of late race cautions that benefited Long. "I was glad to see those last cautions come out, the car would stick well on restarts when the tires cooled down," Long stated. Long ran the 200 lap event without executing a pit stop. "We've run well most every race but we've had one thing or another go wrong and our finishes don't show how good our car has been," he added further. The win moved Long from 19th to 15th in the Series point standings and eclipses his previous best finish which was a 10th in the season opener in Homestead, FL. Cope picked up the $300 Busch Pole Award by besting 44 other drivers during the two lap time trials. The Pinellas Park, FL native toured the 0.533 mile high banked oval in a time of 15.854 seconds, which equaled a speed of 121.029 miles per hour. The top 20 starting positions were locked in during first round qualifications on Friday
evening while the next 12 positions were determined during second round qualifications on Saturday afternoon. An additional four provisional starting positions grew the starting field to 36 late model pilots. Cope, who holds numerous Series records and was the 1996 Series Champion, was making his first start of 1997 as he has moved on to a limited schedule in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. At the drop of the green flag he took off like he was shot out of a cannon and quickly built up a sizable lead in his Penrose Meat Snacks Chevrolet. He led until lap 70 when he pitted during a caution period that occurred as a result of a spin by Brian Ball. At that point Conyers, GA's Ron Young inherited the lead and held the top spot until just past the race's halfway point when the fourth caution flag was waved on lap 102 for Robert Burroughs' Chevrolet which was limping around the outside of turns one and two. At that point most of the leaders pitted, save for Long, and when green flag racing resumed on lap 109 Long maintained the top spot but Cope took control again on the 112th circuit. The key turning point in the race came on the 149th go round as Cope attempted to get past the lapped cars of Mike Harmon and Chad Nolting. Cope and Harmon made contact, sending Harmon into Nolting, then sending Harmon and Nolting into the backstretch wall. Cope suffered extensive nose and right side damage to his racer and was black flagged by NASCAR officials to come in and make sheet metal repairs. When he did so the lead was handed to Long once again. Over the course of the last 53 laps Long managed to hold off the Timber Wolf Chevrolet of Scot Walters who doggedly pursued Long. Twice in the last 10 laps the caution waved, first for debris in turn three on lap 195, then for additional debris left on the racing surface as a result of contact between Billy Bigley, Jr. and Scott Sutherland on the restart. As a result, and due to NASCAR rules which mandate a green-white- checker finish, Long and the rest of the field were forced to run 204 laps before the checkered flag waved. Walters settled for second ahead of Young, points leader Jeff Fultz and Bobby Gill. Rounding out the top 10 were Wayne Anderson, Hank Parker, Jr., Larry Raines, Cope and Nipper Alsup. Fultz extended his points lead to 77 points over Young, who jumped from fifth to second after both Harmon and Hal Goodson experienced misfortunes during the event. Harmon is now nine points behind Young in third while Alsup continues to hold down the fourth spot, being only three points behind Harmon. Goodson dropped to fifth and is 24 points behind Alsup. Leading Port City Racing Rookie contender David Reutimann remains in the sixth spot for the second straight week while Parker moves to seventh dropping Derrick Gilchrist to eighth. Sutherland moves up one spot to ninth while the top 10 is completed by Steve Mendenhall. Reutimann grew his lead in the Port City Racing Rookie competition to 16 points over Mendenhall, who is now just three ahead of Steven Howard with Howard dropping Bobby Hamilton, Jr. to the fourth spot two points behind him. Long, along with winning the race also earned the Rookie of the Race award while Howard, with a 13th place finish, notched his second Rookie of the Race Runner-up honor of the season. After directing his team's effort to victory lane, Long's Crew Chief Chandler earned $300 from Jasper Engines and Transmissions as well as the distinction of Crew Chief of the Race. As a result of his driver, Ron Young, posting his second third place finish in as many races, Larry Rapp has extended his lead in the season long Crew Chief Challenge competition. Rapp now leads Fultz's Crew Chief Jimmy King by six points. The next race for the NASCAR Slim Jim All Pro Series drivers is the Budweiser 200 at Lanier National Speedway in Braselton, GA on Thursday night, July 3, with the drivers heading south immediately after the event to compete in another 200 lap event at Volusia County Speedway in Barberville, FL on Saturday night, July 5.
-30- For further information contact NASCAR Public Relations at (770) 486-3591. 6/23/97-jn