California 500 Notebook

By Dave Rodman and Bill Frederickson FONTANA, Calif (May 3, 1998) Bill Elliott's miserable run continued with his second straight "Goody's Headache Award," earned for his second straight early exit due to an accident. While...

By Dave Rodman and Bill Frederickson FONTANA, Calif (May 3, 1998) Bill Elliott's miserable run continued with his second straight "Goody's Headache Award," earned for his second straight early exit due to an accident. While Elliott's lap 35 departure -- after the engine in Dale Jarrett's Ford blew heading into turn one and Elliott, Kyle Petty, Dale Earnhardt and Mike Dillon were gathered up in the oily aftermath -- was not as spectacular as his "flyer" in the DieHard 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, it was every bit as savage.

The results were also more dire. About 90 minutes after the race's conclusion it was announced that Elliott had been released from Loma Linda University Medical Center after x-rays revealed a "minor fracture" to his left hand and a "minor fracture" to his left foot. The injuries reportedly were "not placed in casts."

Elliott also suffered abrasions on both sides of his face and bruising. Kyle Petty emerged unscathed from the vicious turn 1 accident, in which he actually lost control on the oil from Dale Jarrett's Ford's engine and skated up the track to collect Elliott. He conducted his post-care center media interview flexing his right wrist.

"The ride is the primary thing on my mind right now," he said in response to a question about the opening Monday of 'Kyle Petty's Charity Ride Across America -- a motorcycle tour from California to Trinity, N.C. "I got my arms and legs, and my wrist still bends, so I can ride all day." Of course, he was flashing the trademark "Petty smile" all the while. Tyler Jet Motorsports owner Tim Beverley was an interested and excited observer in the Pennzoil Chevrolet pits during the California 500 presented by NAPA. Beverley will more than likely get a rejuvenated Darrell Waltrip -- based on his first top-five finish since 1995 -- back in the seat of his car some time this summer, with Steve Park's recovery continuing at a rapid pace.

Park was at California Speedway and gave the command, by telephone, to "start engines" as the grand marshal of the Carquest Spring Sizzler Featherlite Modified Series event, an event for the NASCAR Touring Division at Stafford Motor Speedway in Stafford Springs, Conn. First quarter "Driver of the Year" ballot leader Rusty Wallace was recognized in a special presentation on Saturday morning in victory lane at the California Speedway.

Despite his 34thplace finish after the engine failed in his Ford Taurus with only eight laps remaining, Wallace unofficially eclipsed the $17 million mark in career winnings by $21,268. Wallace's crew had changed the engine after finding metal fragments in the oil following "Happy Hour" practice. Todd Bodine was gingerly walking around the California Speedway garage area on Sunday morning, but said although his "neck, back and ribs were aching," he was not as sore as he was on Saturday, when he was also at the speedway.

Bodine was knocked out -- and out of Sunday's California 500 presented by NAPA, when he crashed his Pontiac Grand Prix in turn 3 in practice prior to Bud Pole Award Qualifying. Bodine was no closer on Sunday to determining what had caused the accident but admitted that wind gusts that would decrease the downforce on the car might've been at least partly responsible for his accident -- one of four on Friday that occurred in practice and qualifying.

He did say his team had canceled a scheduled test coming up Wednesday through Friday at Michigan Speedway this week, not wanting to risk the only two intermediate cars it had left in its rolling stock with Charlotte's high-profile three-race (potentially) in two weekend set coming up. Barry Bodine was on hand at California Speedway for the California 500 presented by NAPA after participating in the "Tribute to NASCAR Families" that was part of "NASCAR's Night in Hollywood" on Friday night.

He admitted that the gala was his first event of that magnitude, and was much more involved that he had anticipated.

Geoff Bodine's son tipped that his next NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race would be in the Parts America 150 at Watkins Glen International on May 30 followed in short order at Texas Motor Speedway on June 5.

"We're planning limited schedule of 15 races, which is not bad considering we don't have a primary sponsor," Bodine said. "If we sign someone we'll run all the races, but right now we'll be at Bristol, Richmond, and most of the races close to us in the Carolinas, along with the big West Coast races, like California and Las Vegas." "Mark's figured something out that no one else has, and even we don't know what it is," said IROC President Jay Signore on Sunday morning summing up Mark Martin's dominant victory, from 10th starting spot, in Round Two of IROC XXII the day before.

Signore said regular test pilots Dave Marcis and Jim Sauter would be busy at Michigan Speedway on Wednesday, preparing for the series next round on June 13, in conjunction with the NASCAR Winston Cup race there.

"Maybe we'll have to put in a four-championship limit," Signore said, in jest, as Martin's steams toward his fourth -- and third straight -- IROC title. ESPN Video will release "NASCAR - THE FIFTY," the definitive history of NASCAR's 50 years on May 12, joining in the year-long celebration of the sanctioning body's 50th Anniversary. Each video in the five-volume series contains exclusive footage that did not air in the original ESPN broadcasts, never-before-seen photos and interviews with some of the most popular personalities in NASCAR racing.

Each volume contains more than 12 minutes of bonus footage, totaling more than an hour for the set.

The set will be available at most retail outlets, at "NASCAR Thunder" stores and through (800) 662-3776. Each volume is priced at $14.99 with a commemorative 50th Anniversary boxed set, featuring all five videos in the collection, priced at $59.99. Kevin Lepage continues to struggle to keep pace with well-sponsored Kenny Irwin in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year race. Irwin, who finished 16th, has 118 points while Lepage, whose LJ Racing team picked up sponsorship from Fluidyne for the California 500 presented by NAPA, has 100. Jerry Nadeau trails in third with 88. NASCAR President Bill France served as grand marshal of the second annual California 500 presented by NAPA and, in his pre-race remarks, said returning to Southern California in 1997 was "the best thing we've ever done."

Former NASCAR vice president Les Richter, who was instrumental in the building of California Speedway was the grand marshal of the inaugural event. Hot Wheels Pontiac driver Kyle Petty was on hand Friday for the opening of the "Hot Wheels Race Track Zone," an inflatable play area for children that will be located on the infield of selected NASCAR Winston Cup tracks.

The Track Zone, inside an 120'x120' area "gives the kids a place to go and play and be safe," said Petty, who grew up grubbing in the dirt in race track infields with the Parrott, Pearson and Jarrett kids. "NASCAR is really turning into a family event. The race is sometimes two or three hours long and the kids sometimes feel left out. The Race Track Zone gives them a place to go so they can have some fun."

The zone resembles a "McDonald's Playland," with slides and climb-on apparatus. "These kids are the next generation and Hot Wheels is ensuring that the growth of the sport is safe." Hot Wheels donated money to the "Big Brothers and Sisters of America" to commemorate their 30th anniversary and the opening.

Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Bill Elliott , Dale Jarrett , Darrell Waltrip , Todd Bodine , Steve Park , Kyle Petty , Kevin Lepage , Jerry Nadeau , Dave Marcis , Jim Sauter , Mark Martin