Atlanta Qualifying Notes

Cracker Barrel 500 Friday Notebook By Shawn A. Akers HAMPTON, Ga. (March 12, 1999) Notes Friday from Bud Pole Qualifying for Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series Cracker Barrel 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway: Is it Bobby Labonte time in...

Cracker Barrel 500 Friday Notebook By Shawn A. Akers

HAMPTON, Ga. (March 12, 1999) Notes Friday from Bud Pole Qualifying for Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series Cracker Barrel 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway:

Is it Bobby Labonte time in Atlanta again? Quite possibly so, especially after Labonte snagged the Bud Pole for Sunday's race.

The driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac has won at least one race in Atlanta in each of the past three seasons. He had won two straight at the tough track before last fall's race, when his engine failed and he finished last in the season-ending NAPA 500.

"I'd like to continue the streak," Labonte said. "I feel fortunate to win at least won race a year here the past three years. I like to run here. I always look forward to coming to Atlanta.

"I'm lucky to be racing for the Joe Gibbs team. He has prepared a great team and I feel fortunate to be driving for him. Joe has structured himself and his team to win a Winston Cup championship."

Things are looking better for Dale Jarrett the past couple of weeks. The driver of the No. 88 Quality Care/Ford Credit Taurus, who began the season by finishing 37th at Daytona, has climbed to 11th in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series point standings. He finished 11th in last weekend's Las Vegas 400.

"Obviously we haven't won yet this season, but we've run well and this is a good track for us," Jarrett said. "I like this track because you can get a general idea what the cars are doing.

"We're coming here to win the race. To race for the points championship, we need to be doing well each and every week. This weekend, we plan on being patient, to move around and see where we can gain the advantage."

Jarrett will start in the fourth position Sunday after a solid Bud Pole Qualifying run.

Ricky Rudd is hoping for much better things this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and does he ever need it. The driver of the No. 10 Tide Ford is currently 37th in the standings, 290 points behind leader Mike Skinner.

Rudd has limped to finishes of 30th at Daytona, 30th at Rockingham and 43rd at Las Vegas so far this season. He qualified poorly on Friday at AMS, in 34th position.

"We need to have something good happen here this weekend," Rudd said. "The one positive thing we've had happen to us this season is the pole at Rockingham. We've got good speed right now. I just need the car to handle better. We're not where we'd like to be right now. I don't have the answer."

Ted Musgrave already has a better week this week than last. The driver of the No. 75 Remington Arms Ford, who failed to qualify for the Las Vegas 400 last week, qualified 11th on Friday.

"I'm pretty happy with that, it's conservative," Musgrave said. "Like I said to the guys, we just wanted to be conservative and make sure it gets in the show and not try to be a hero this time. There may have been a little bit more left, but you don't want to goof up again. I wasn't gonna do like I did last week and try to go for the pole."

Pontiacs had a great day in Bud Pole Qualifying. Four Grand Prix made it into the top-10, led by Labonte. Labonte's Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Tony Stewart, qualified third, while rookie Buckshot Jones was seventh and John Andretti was 10th. Kyle Petty will start 22nd.

Jeremy Mayfield's No. 12 Mobil 1 Ford will sport a one-time paint scheme for the May 2 California 500 presented by NAPA. In a press conference held Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, it was announced that Mayfield will drive a Kentucky Derby-themed car to honor the 125th anniversary of the Kentucky Derby.

The announcement was made jointly by Action Performance Companies, Penske-Kranefuss Racing, Mobil Oil Corporation and Churchill Downs, the site of the Kentucky Derby, on Friday. A native of Owensboro, Ky., Mayfield is an ardent thoroughbred racing fan.

In an announcement made Friday afternoon in the infield media center, officials of Raybestos Brakes said it will increasing its motorsports involvement in 2000. This year, winner of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series Raybestos Rookie of the Year award will get $25,000. Next year, the winner will get $50,000. Raybestos's initial commitment was $10,000.

The Speedway Children's Charities Mobile Command Center, sponsored by Your Office USA and the On-Line Entertainment Network, will conduct a pay-per-listen netcast, provided by the On-Line Entertainment Network, on Saturday from 11 a.m.-12 p.m. ET.

Involved in the netcast will be Stewart, ARCA driver Andy Belmont, and President of Speedway Motorsports, Bruton Smith. To tune into the netcast, go to http://www.oen.com and clock on the Speedway Children's Charities logo. The $2 usage fee will go to the philanthropic causes benefited by Speedway Children's Charities.

Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers John Andretti , Dale Jarrett , Bobby Labonte , Jeremy Mayfield , Tony Stewart , Kyle Petty , Buckshot Jones , Ted Musgrave , Andy Belmont
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing