BUSCH: Jones Helps Out Stavola Racing

Jones Helps Out Stavola Racing Dave Rodman INDIANAPOLIS (July 6, 1998) NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division driver Buckshot Jones, who made a successful NASCAR Winston Cup Series debut with the Stavola Brothers Racing team at Dover,...

Jones Helps Out Stavola Racing Dave Rodman

INDIANAPOLIS (July 6, 1998) NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division driver Buckshot Jones, who made a successful NASCAR Winston Cup Series debut with the Stavola Brothers Racing team at Dover, Del., jumped in again to help the regrouping operation with a test session last week at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for the Aug. 1 Brickyard 400.

While it's unknown at this time if Jones will drive in the prestigious event, Jones' father and team owner Billy Jones did say the test served two purposes.

"Buckshot got to get some track time, which he can use every bit that he can get," Jones said on Monday, "and the Stavola Brothers got to shake down two brand new race cars, which was a big help to them."

Buckshot Jones began the season intending to run five NASCAR Winston Cup Series races in his family-owned No. 00 Aquafresh Pontiac. After failing to qualify for the PRIMESTAR 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway in his No. 00, Jones scored an eighth place finish in the Stavola Brothers' Chevrolet at Dover on May 31.

The team failed to qualify for its second race, the Pontiac Excitement 400 at Richmond International Raceway, but Jones made enough of an impression on the owners and crew chief Jim Long that when they scheduled the IMS test, Jones was their man behind the wheel.

Two weeks before a gaggle of NASCAR Winston Cup Series regulars is due at the speedway to begin serious pre-Brickyard 400 testing, Jones took to the historic 2.5-mile oval last week for three days of practice that he hopes will help get the Stavola Brothers' car into the race, no matter who drives it.

Jones practiced in a pair of freshly-painted but unnumbered Chevrolets under the watchful eyes of co-owner Billy Stavola and Indy 500 veteran Pancho Carter, hired to be his coach at Indianapolis.

"This is a really prestigious track," said Jones, who turns 28 nine days before the Brickyard. "Just to make this race is a big deal.

"People look at Daytona and Indy. For some driver like me it would be awesome to make Daytona, but it would be just as awesome to make it here at the Brickyard. I'm not saying other tracks aren't as important, but this is just where racin' is. For Indy cars and the Brickyard, that's where racin' comes from. Daytona's the same way.

"Since NASCAR came in here, this is a really big event."

A spokesperson for Jones' NASCAR Busch Series team said "right now it is just a case of two teams helping each other with a test session."

Nicole Allen, speaking on Jones' behalf, said the next race for the Aquafresh Pontiac would be the New Hampshire 300 on Aug. 30 at New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon, the site of Jones' NASCAR Busch Series victory earlier this season. Billy Jones confirmed that the teams -- Buckshot Racing and Stavolas Brothers Racing -- are still in negotiations that may lead to further cooperation.

Buckshot Jones has been racing mainly on the NASCAR Busch Series this season. He has the single victory at Loudon and stands sixth in points after 17 races.

"We haven't decided how many races we're going to run," owner Billy Stavola said of his team's plans for the balance of the season. The Stavola Brothers re-organized when primary sponsor Circuit City left as the team's primary sponsor. "We're getting close to putting a deal together where we can at least run a dozen races or so."

From the start, Stavola has been high on young Jones' potential.

"Working the Busch Series, he's a really aggressive driver," Billy Stavola said. "He has a good head on his shoulders, he's very focused and he's a good young, bright boy who's very interested in being a good race car driver. And I think he's got every ability and quality to do it."

What particularly pleased Jones was that the team had two equal cars ready for testing, and he quickly was turning laps slightly above 170 mph. It took 172-plus last year to qualify for the Brickyard 400.

"They're real patient," he said last week. "I'm a rookie at this and a little slow at picking it up."

Carter, who lives in the Indianapolis area, drove in 17 Indy 500s and had a pole and a top finish of third. He knew the Stavolas from his limited involvement in NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing. They contacted him about coaching newcomer Jones, a University of Georgia graduate.

Carter took Jones around the track Tuesday in a passenger car, pointed out the best way to enter and exit the turns and provided other tidbits of racing information.

On Wednesday after each run, Jones and Carter studied engine performance images on a monitor. Carter explained where he needed to lift, get on the throttle and so forth. It certainly was an accelerated course in driving the speedway.

"Buckshot's good," Carter said. "He's not bull-headed in any stretch of the imagination. He's a real aggressive driver and that's probably the one thing that doesn't do you a whole lot of good here as you've got to concentrate on being a little smoother, roll in, roll out and try to work on momentum and corner speeds."

Carter said that Jones was a good listener. Carter also indicated that he could relate to how the rookie drives. Carter noted that Jones would turn a good lap, try harder and go slower. He said that a driver must convince himself that not diving as hard into the turns is the fastest way around in a stock car.

Jones attended the 1995 Brickyard and spent time watching how the drivers drove on the track and talked with them in the garages.

"It kind of intimidates you when you first get here," he said of the track, "because it has such long straightaways. But the track has got incredible grip. Whoever did this track, built the track and everything else around here, it's so powerful. I never thought you'd be able to go in the corners that quick here. It's a very nice race track. I'm really impressed with it."

Source: NASCAR Online

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Drivers Buckshot Jones , Pancho Carter