NAPA 500 Notebook By Dave Rodman HAMPTON, Ga. (Nov. 8, 1998) Notes and quotes from the NAPA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway: DALE JARRETT Dale Jarrett is scheduled to undergo surgery to remove his gall bladder on Nov. 16 in Phoenix. Jarrett...
NAPA 500 Notebook By Dave Rodman
HAMPTON, Ga. (Nov. 8, 1998) Notes and quotes from the NAPA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway:
DALE JARRETT Dale Jarrett is scheduled to undergo surgery to remove his gall bladder on Nov. 16 in Phoenix. Jarrett will return to John C Lincoln Hospital - North Mountain, where he was treated by Dr. James Magary, a gall bladder specialist, following a gall stone attack during the Dura Lube/Kmart 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.
Magary is scheduled to perform the surgery. Jarrett does not anticipate missing the NASCAR Winston Cup Awards Banquet on Dec. 4 in New York City.
Dick Moroso of Madison, Conn., a former NASCAR team owner and the owner of Moroso Performance Parts, passed away at home Saturday night at about 11:30 p.m. EST, according to reports received at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Details on funeral arrangements were not available.
Moroso, who also owned a race track complex -- Moroso Motorsports Park -- in West Palm Beach, Fla., formerly owned race teams in a number of NASCAR divisions. His son, the late Rob Moroso, won the 1989 NASCAR Busch Series championship and the 1990 NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie of the Year Award, driving for his father. Rob Moroso received his rookie award posthumously after he was killed in a highway accident in the fall of that year.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family," said former Northeast racer Geoff Bodine. "Dick was a good ambassador for the sport and a friend to a lot of people."
In what had to approach a NASCAR Winston Cup Series record, especially considering lit race tracks now make this possible, the red flags for rain had to be a record at AMS. The initial rain delays totaled nearly six hours and 40 minutes, but a healthy crowd of fans were in the seats when the race went green.
Jeremy Mayfield had the best epitaph for the long Atlanta rain delays when he said, "I figured we were in trouble this morning when one of our crew guys was looking up at the sky and saying 'I hope the track doesn't change much between now and Tuesday.'"
"The way this season has gone, you'd think it was the 50th anniversary of the Weather Channel," said Kodak Max Film Chevrolet driver Bobby Hamilton while waiting out the rain delay. "Farmers ought to pay is to run during droughts . . . it even rains on us in ! the desert."
Since Hamilton has won two of his three NASCAR Winston Cup races on Mondays, he was anxious for a delay.
Brett Bodine was a little bemused after the race was red-flagged for a second time. Bodine came into the NAPA 500 in 26th in the point standings, one spot out of a point fund payoff. With only a 22-point gap between himself and Joe Nemechek, Bodine was concerned about leading a lap and gaining the five bonus points that went with it.
While rumbling around under caution he tried to drive up next to leader Dave Marcis to signal him, but Marcis led from laps 42-51 before he pitted, allowing Bodine to lead.
"I'm very disappointed in Dave Marcis," said Bodine, who was still upset after getting out of his Paychex Ford. "There's a guy who relies on people helping him out for a lot of things, and doing him a lot of favors... well, he just used up a favor as far as I'm concerned. He knew what David Green and I were after and he really put the shaft to us. Believe me, that will go in the memory bank and we'll remember it for a long time."
Kenny Irwin said he had no qualms about his future with Robert Yates Racing. "That's what Robert Yates tells me," said Irwin when queried about his status in the Texaco/Havoline Ford. "That's all I've got to go off of, so that's all there is."
As much as he is happy to end the 1998 season, Darrell Waltrip is excited about going to Japan to drive Robert Yates' No. 88 Ford in the NASCAR Thunder Special Motegi - Coca-Cola 500 on Nov. 22 at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan.
"I had got to the point I was starting to doubt myself," Waltrip said during the AMS rain delay of the late days of his own race team and even some periods with his current Tyler Jet Motorsports team. "I think I can still win races, and I'm excited about going to Japan in two weeks to drive that No. 88 car. I asked them if we were taking the same car Dale's (Jarrett) got here, but they said the Japan car is better.
"I'm excited about Japan: Rusty's going and Jeff and Dale and Jeff Burton... if I can smoke those guys off it'll be a good situation -- a good Christmas present."
Waltrip outlined his short-term plans, too.
"I was thinking about racing in 1999 and 2000... I wanted to put together a sponsorship deal so we could work into it in 1999 and do a farewell deal in 2000," he said. "But if somebody laid out a plan and said we want to help you go out in style in 1999, and be competitive... well, if I can be competitive and sell a bunch of souvenirs and gohome, well, that'd work."
Waltrip also gave his take on the eras dominated by Richard Petty, himself and Jeff Gordon.
"I think Richard might've been envious of the money I was able to make when I was on top, and I'm certainly envious of the money Jeff has available," he said. "I think the difference is that Richard won 200 races, but the people (fans) who are around today maybe saw two of them on TV. I won 84 races and maybe these people saw 25 of 'em. There's a crowd out here now who can't appreciate what Richard Petty did and what I did -- they never saw us when we were at our best so they can't appreciate what this kid's done. To win four Southern 500s in a row... that's an incredible feat that in itself says a great deal about him, his ability and his team."
Chuck Leavell, a member of the Rolling Stones rock 'n roll band since 1982, visited AMS on Sunday as a guest of Stihl, the sponsor of Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series event. Leavell, the Stones' keyboard player, is from Central Georgia, just south of Macon. Leavell said this was his first visit to a NASCAR track. Legendary entertainer Chubby Checker was also hand this weekend, as he was involved in sponsorship of a pair of cars in the ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series Winn-Dixie 250 on Friday.
Several professional athletes were also among visitors to AMS on Sunday. NFL Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown attended his first NASCAR Winston Cup Series race and said it might not be his last, while several members of the Atlanta Braves, including coach Ned Yost, also were in the garage area as guests of big Braves fans Dale Earnhardt and his team owner, Richard Childress.
When Jeff Gordon clinched his third NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship following last Sunday's ACDelco 400 at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, it gave Chevrolet its 20th driver's title in NASCAR's 50-year history. Chevrolet drivers have won eight of nine championships in the 1990s.
Earnhardt won in 1990, 1991, 1993 and 1994. Gordon captured the title in 1995, 1997 and 1998 in a Monte Carlo -- the most successful nameplate in NASCAR history with 263 career victories.
The Ford Thunderbird ranks second with 191 career wins. The Monte Carlo returned to the track in 1995 after the Lumina served from mid-1989, and Chevrolet drivers have won four straight championships since its return. Those four titles came from Hendrick Motorsports drivers with Gordon and Terry Labonte in 1996.
Buck Baker won the first title in a Chevy in 1957. He is one of 10 drivers to have won the crown driving a Chevrolet. The others are Rex White, 1960; Ned Jarrett, 1961; Benny Parsons, 1973; Cale Yarborough, 1976 and 1977; and Darrell Waltrip, 1985. Richard Petty primarily drove Chevrolets when he won the championship in 1979, although he drove Oldsmobiles in selected races. Earnhardt won his first crown in 1980 in a Chevrolet, plus four races in an Olds.
Chevrolet leads all makes with 20 drivers' titles. Ford and Plymouth are next with five each. Dodge and Oldsmobile have four each. Buick, Chrysler, Hudson and Pontiac drivers have each won three titles.
Going into the NAPA 500, 23 drivers have won races driving the Chevrolet Monte Carlo. They are: Waltrip 48; Earnhardt 40; Gordon 39; Cale Yarborough 38; Bobby Allison 15; Benny Parsons and Terry Labonte 14; Tim Richmond 9; Harry Gant, Bodine and Richard Petty 6; Neil Bonnett and Sterling Marlin 5; Bobby Labonte 4; Donnie Allison 3; Ricky Rudd, David Pearson and Buddy Baker, 2; and Charlie Glotzbach, Ken Schrader, Greg Sacks, Earl Ross and Bobby Hamilton 1 each.
Roush Racing's annual post-Atlanta finale outing at the Road Atlanta road course northeast of the city is scheduled Monday and Tuesday.
"We have what we call a ride and drive at Roush Racing every Monday and Tuesday after Atlanta," Roush driver Jeff Burton said. "All the sponsor representatives come down and we spend two days at Road Atlanta giving rides in race cars. People actually drive race cars, we've got go-karts they can get in... and people can ride P-51 airplanes. You could literally fly with Chuck Yeager last year... so it's a big two days."
Source: NASCAR Online