Thomasville, NC ( May 23 ) Washington Apple President Welcome Sauer, who was on hand for Sunday's BF Goodrich 300 ASA race at Concord (NC) Motorsports Park, offered a quote after the race that sounded more like a produce report than a race report...
Thomasville, NC ( May 23 ) Washington Apple President Welcome Sauer, who was on hand for Sunday's BF Goodrich 300 ASA race at Concord (NC) Motorsports Park, offered a quote after the race that sounded more like a produce report than a race report with ample reason. Welcome had just finished witnessing the best finish to date for Ricky Bryant, and his Washington Apples - Food Lion team in ASA, but the analogy of an un-bruised and still polished Washington Apple car was definitely appropriate. As the checkered flag fell on Sunday's caution filled 300 lap event Welcome offered that, "The Washington Apple car was un-bruised, and still shining, just like Washington Apples themselves."
While the Washington Apple race team is not yet able to emulate their sponsors slogan of "The Best Apples on Earth" with their own "Best Team in ASA" they are making slow, but steady progress each week. The 11th place finish Sunday moved Ricky Bryant to 16th place in the point standings, up 2 spots from the previous race.
With 13 races still to go in the 2001 campaign Bryant feels his team is on the right track, " I certainly can't say our team has produced any spectacular results in our rookie campaign yet, but we are learning week by week, and growing together as a team. I feel the progress we have made, in spite of missing the first race of the season is very credible. We are finding new ways to overcome obstacles we face week in and week out, and in the long run that will become the strength of this Washington Apple team."
Ricky went on to say, "We don't really have the budget to test for these races, or the high dollar experienced crew chief that many teams have, and we really have just one top of the line car, but we do have a tremendous amount of dedication, and hard work on the part of the ownership, and crew. In the long run I am confident that it will pay off with the results we expect. It was great having Welcome , and Tom Duce here for the race. Washington Apples has done so much for me, and my team in the last 3 years. We really want to do good for them, because we appreciate their help. We could not do this without them!"
The scariest portion of the race for Bryant & the Washington Apple team actually occurred before even one lap was completed. As the field thundered into turn 1 on the first lap contact occurred between a couple cars in front of Bryant and the result was a 13 car pileup that necessitated a restart after repairs we made to several of the cars. Fortunately for Bryant he was able to spin and avoid the melee, and his Washington Apples Pontiac was unmarked. From that point on the BF Goodrich 300 was a survival affair with Bryant able to avoid all of the races' 15 cautions. Coupled with some great pit stops by the Washington Apple crew Bryant brought his Apple car home 11th. One of only 17 cars, out of the original starting field of 35, running at the checkered flag.
Bryant, and the Washington Apple team now enjoy a week off before heading to Nashville for the June 2nd Music City 300, and for once Bryant , and his team, do not have to rebuild any cars, or overcome any major obstacles. Ricky felt that will definitely help, " Now we will be able to concentrate on the little things with the car to get better. We can't take anything for granted in ASA, these drivers are the best short track racers in the country. We need to work hard to overcome the disadvantages we have as a rookie team.If we don't continue working hard we could find ourselves going home again, and we never want that to ever happen again!"
First however there will be time for a very special appearance for Ricky , and the Washington Apple Pontiac Grand Prix showcar. Ricky has been asked to appear, and to bring his ASA showcar for the 400 Special Olympians attending Winston Cup Pole Night at Lowes Motor Speedway, in Charlotte, on Thursday May 24th. The Washington Apples ASA car will be on display in the Lowes Motor Speedway Hospitality Village area from 3 PM till 7 PM on Thursday, and Ricky will be on hand to meet the Special Olympians, and sign autographs from 4 PM till 6 PM.
Washington Apples has donated apples to the Special Olympians, and the team will be donating some of their apparel for a special raffle taking place on Thursday. Ricky is definitely looking forward to Thursday, " I feel honored to be invited to meet the Special Olympians. As a team we have done work with the Make A Wish Foundation for the last 5 years, and this is a great opportunity to meet some very special people."
The Washington Apple team returns to action on Saturday, June 2nd, at the Nashville Speedway USA. The Music City 300 takes the green flag at 8 PM Central Time. The race , as with all ASA races, will be broadcast live on TNN with Buddy Baker , and Chris McClure in the booth. Broadcast time is 9 PM ET. Qualifying for the 300 lap event will take place on Friday , June 1st.