Bristol Saturday Notes

Food City 500 Saturday notebook By Shawn A. Akers BRISTOL, Tenn. (April 10, 1999) Some notes and quotes Saturday surrounding Sunday's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway: For the first time this season, Darrell Waltrip qualified in the ...

Food City 500 Saturday notebook By Shawn A. Akers

BRISTOL, Tenn. (April 10, 1999) Some notes and quotes Saturday surrounding Sunday's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway:

For the first time this season, Darrell Waltrip qualified in the first round of Bud Pole Qualifying on Friday for Sunday's Food City 500. Waltrip's fast lap of 123.857 mph put him in the 12th starting position on Sunday. The last time Waltrip made the field in the first round of qualifying was last July at New Hampshire.

"We're not dead last," said a relieved Waltrip, driver of the No. 66 Kmart/Route 66 Taurus. "That's really exciting. Coming here and testing, I knew all along that if we could get some testing done, get some good race cars ... we've got a pretty good motor program. I've got a great team. We've just gotta get some luck going."

Dave Marcis was one happy driver on Friday. The 57-year-old driver of the No. 71 Realtree Chevrolet secured a starting spot for Sunday's Food City 500 by qualifying 22nd, just missing a frontstretch pit stall by one position. Marcis has missed qualifying for three of the first seven races this season, including the previous two, at Darlington and Texas.

"I was happy with the car Friday," said Marcis, who turned in a fast lap of 123.300 mph during Bud Pole Qualifying. "We did our homework and worked hard on that car this winter. We cut the body off of it and did some chassis changes to it.

"We got bumped off the front stretch by one spot, but we were happy with the car in practice. We went through our old notes. We actually went back to some things we had run in 1995. I used old Monroe shocks. There's nothing tricky about those. I don't know if it's my driving style or not, but when we put them on yesterday, we picked up a tenth, so we left them on and qualified with them."

Dale Earnhardt wrecked his No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Chevrolet in "Happy Hour" practice Saturday afternoon. He'll have to go to a backup and will start at the rear of the field in Sunday's race. "It was loose up off the corner," Earnhardt said. "We kept working with it, but it just got out from under me. Things are real competitive. You can run the same speeds as everybody. That's one thing. To be better, that's what you want to be. We were working to try and get there."

TV Guide, Inc., announced Saturday that it would be a co-primary sponsor for Roush Racing's No. 16 Ford Taurus in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, with driver Kevin Lepage. PRIMESTAR, Inc., will maintain its sponsorship. The TV Guide/PRIMESTAR car will debut on Sunday in the Food City 500 at Bristol.

"This partnership is a very exciting opportunity for Roush and TV Guide," said Geoff Smith, president of Roush Racing. "TV Guide is one of the top entertainment brands in the world and it is exciting to have them on board. To have a company with the reach and readership of the new TV Guide portfolio of services says a lot about who NASCAR's audience has become."

Eddie D'Hondt, general manager of Bill Elliott Racing, announced today that Rob Fuller will temporarily serve as the team's front tire changer, starting with Sunday's race. Friday's announcement came one week after the resignation of Joe Garone, who was the crew chief and front tire changer on the McDonald's Ford.

Fuller is in his third season as the rear tire changer and tire specialist on Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s NASCAR Busch Series car. Fuller, 25, is a native of Boylston, Mass. D'Hondt said that he hopes to permanently fill this position in the next two to three weeks.

Jimmy Spencer is still suffering the ill-effects of an accident in the PRIMESTAR 500 at Texas two weeks ago, with four bruised ribs on the right side under his shoulder. For that reason, Spencer has Steve Grissom standing by as a relief driver during the race weekend at Bristol, should the need arise for him to climb out of his No. 23 Team Winston Ford. Grissom substituted for Spencer on Friday in his No. 12 NASCAR Busch Series Chevrolet, but Grissom failed to make the field for Saturday's Moore's Snacks 250.

Spencer said Saturday he didn't feel bad, but that he was still a bit sore.

"I feel like I might be able to do it (go the entire 500 laps)," Spencer said. "I'm gonna add a litlte bit more foam to the seat and change some braces and stuff in there. We ran about 60 laps this morning (in practice) and I don't feel too bad, but that's also not 60 laps non-stop. Our car is running really good and I think that helps a lot.

"My wrists aren't too bad because you keep them in place on the wheel, but my ribs and my shoulders are together, and it's not really good. There are a bunch of ligaments and bruises and stuff. I saw some stuff last night when I took a shower that I didn't like, but, oh well."

Robert Pressley, driver of the No. 77 Jasper Engines Ford, is scheduled to start 11th in Sunday's Food City 500. That marks his best starting position since he qualified 8th at Texas in 1998. "Qualifying has never been real good for me," Pressley said. "We race a little bit better, but we've put a lot of emphasis on qualifying lately. At Atlanta and Vegas we missed the race because of some problems we had here and we just really sat down and started adding on to our qualifying package.

"We knew we were getting better with our racing and starting 11th is gonna be pretty good for us. We want to consistently be in the top-15 every week, and this make it a lot easier."

Only two drivers in the history of Bristol has ever won a race after pitting on the backstretch. That was Davey Allison, who won the Food City 500 in 1990, and Dale Earnhardt, in 1994. There are several big-name drivers who will attempt to accomplish that very feat on Sunday, including points leader Jeff Burton, Earnhardt, Mike Skinner, Terry Labonte, Ernie Irvan, Sterling Marlin and Bill Elliott.

Earlier this year, Chattem Inc., announced plans for their Gold Bond brand of medicated powders and lotions to sponsor the No. 54 Spencer Motor Ventures car, driven by Brett Bodine, in the NASCAR Busch Series at five selected events this season.

Since Bristol is considered the "home" track for the Chattanooga, Tenn.-based company, the Gold Bond brand welcomed the opportunity to support Bodine's Paychex-sponsored NASCAR Winston Cup Series entry. The Gold Bond logo will be on the deck lid of the No. 11 Taurus for the Food City 500 this weekend.

Source: NASCAR Online

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Brett Bodine , Jeff Burton , Bill Elliott , Darrell Waltrip , Terry Labonte , Mike Skinner , Jimmy Spencer , Kevin Lepage , Sterling Marlin , Robert Pressley , Dave Marcis , Steve Grissom , Davey Allison