CONCORD, N.C. (May 20, 2000) - For the past two days Chad Little and the John Deere crew attempted to qualify the all-star game of stock car racing, The Winston. In honor of Winston's 30 years of involvement with NASCAR, a few changes were ...
CONCORD, N.C. (May 20, 2000) - For the past two days Chad Little and the John Deere crew attempted to qualify the all-star game of stock car racing, The Winston. In honor of Winston's 30 years of involvement with NASCAR, a few changes were implemented in the qualifying procedures. The Winston Open, a qualifier race for those not already in the main event, was changed to 30 laps with the winner earning one of two transfer spots into The Winston. A second 16-lap "No Bull Sprint" followed The Winston Open, allowing a second competitor to make the prestigious 20-car field.
Little started The Winston Open in the ninth position by way of his fifth-place performance in Friday's twin "No Bull 25s." Little stayed out of trouble the first 10 laps of the race as he battled a loose-handling car. With most of the practice sessions taking place in 80-degree temperatures, the crews need to use their best judgement as to how the track conditions would change as the 26-car field took the green at 7:30 p.m. EDT.
Little lost a few positions on the track as the first and only caution flag waved on lap two. Little backed the John Deere Ford down as a two-car accident left parts strewn across the race track. The race went back to green-flag conditions on lap 10, and Little found himself in 11th position. Little moved his way into 10th on lap 25, but as the No. 97 Ford weaved its way through traffic, the leaders began to pull away. Little would make his way to ninth as the checkered flag waved on lap 30.
With an opportunity to enter the pits before the 16-lap dash, the John Deere crew executed a flawless two-tire stop. With most teams taking on four-tires, crew chief Jeff Hammond felt this was a gamble the team needed to make to capture the second transfer spot into The Winston. Since the car ended The Winston Open on the loose side, taking right-side tires, in theory, would tighten up the race car. The John Deere crew got Little back onto the track in second place, as the "No Bull Sprint" was about to begin.
Little lost several spots on the start, but as the tires began to get some heat into them, Little found some stability in the No. 97 machine. Unfortunately for Little, the No. 75 car got underneath the green-and-yellow machine on lap seven, and pushed Little into the wall as he exited Turn 2.
The No. 97 hit the outside wall, but Little emerged from the car unharmed. An even-tempered Little exited the car knowing that his night was through, but that he would be back next weekend to battle in the season's 12th Winston Cup points race.
Little and the John Deere crew must now focus their attention on next Sunday's Coca-Cola 600, the season's longest event. Little looks to move up from his current 18th-place position in the Winston Cup point standings as he drives the John Deere/FFA Ford at the 1.5-mile Lowe's Motor Speedway. Little's Quotes
"The green machine was battered and bruised in Turn 2. We were pretty loose; someone slid up and got into me, and around we went. I'm okay and we learned enough for the 600. I'm not sure we'll be able to bring the same car back, but we learned a lot and it was fun."