Crew Chief Club at Bristol

Crew Chief Club at the Food City 500 Event: Food City 500 When: Sun., April 11 at 1 p.m. EDT on ESPN Where: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (.533-mile oval) · Together, Jimmy Makar, Larry McReynolds, Todd Parrott and Robin Pemberton...

Crew Chief Club at the Food City 500

Event:  Food City 500        When:  Sun., April 11 at 1 p.m. EDT on ESPN
Where:  Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (.533-mile oval)

· Together, Jimmy Makar, Larry McReynolds, Todd Parrott and Robin Pemberton have led their drivers to 65 wins, 361 top-five finishes, 577 top-10 finishes and 67 poles prior to this Sunday's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

· Pemberton and Rusty Wallace are the two-time defending pole winners of the Food City 500. Wallace captured the 1998 Bud Pole Award with a time of 15.440 seconds at an average speed of 124.275 mph. His time of 15.526 seconds at an average speed of 123.526 mph earned him the first starting position in 1997.

· Makar is the only Crew Chief Club member to earn a weekend sweep at Bristol Motor Speedway. Under his direction at Penske Racing South, Rusty Wallace captured the pole and the win in 1991.

· The Crew Chief Club has one win and four poles in the spring event at Bristol Motor Speedway. The win was provided by Makar and Wallace in 1991. The poles were provided by Pemberton and Wallace in 1998 and 1997, Makar and Wallace in 1991 and Pemberton and Mark Martin in 1989.

· In last year's Food City 500, the Crew Chief Club finished in the following order: Parrott/Jarrett Start: 6th Finish: 3rd Status: Running McReynolds/Earnhardt Start: 37th Finish: 22nd Status: Running Pemberton/Wallace Start: 1st Finish: 33rd Status: Running Makar/Labonte Start: 7th Finish: 34th Status: Accident

BRISTOL IS A FAST AND ROUGH RACE TRACK. WHAT DO YOU DO TO PREPARE YOUR CAR FOR 500 MILES AT BRISTOL?

Jimmy Makar - Interstate Batteries Pontiac of Bobby Labonte - "We don't have the best record at Bristol. We run well, but we always seem to get caught up in one of those Bristol problems that tend to arise. We've always had good cars and we've always run up front, but we always get caught in things. A lot of it has to do with being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Things happen so fast there, that if you're close to an incident, it's easy to get swept up into it. You have 15-second laps there, and it's hard to stop the car and avoid things when they happen. Lapped cars become a problem too. You have to be fortunate on one hand, but you have to have a good race car on the other hand. If you're up front, you have less of a chance at getting caught up in something at Bristol. Sure you've got lapped cars to deal with, but you're better off. If you're stuck in the middle, that's where you get a problem. Bristol's a rough place."

Larry McReynolds - Lowe's Home Improvement Chevrolet of Mike Skinner - "The big quest to begin with is to get the car qualified up front. Track position at the start of the race is very important at Bristol. If you start at the rear of a 43-car field at Bristol, when they drop the green flag, you are already one half to three quarters of a lap down from the get-go. If you have any trouble at all, you're lapped in the first 20 laps. "Getting a pit stall on the front stretch is key for Bristol. We get there on Friday and we aren't even thinking about the race, we're thinking about qualifying. You have to get your car to turn in the middle of the corner and not be loose off. There's a big compromise there. Normally, the entrance is not a problem when getting into the corner, it's getting the car to rotate through the center. A car that's always been successful at that is the (No.) 2 with Robin (Pemberton) setting it up. Their car always rotates well through the corner and has good forward bite off the corner. You also have to have good pit stops at Bristol. But the biggest thing is keeping four quarter panels and two fenders on the car so you can be there at the end."

Todd Parrott - Ford Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Ford of Dale Jarrett - "To be tough at Bristol, you have to have a car that can withstand a rough race track with fast speeds. You need to keep the fenders on it and away from the tires. It's a real exciting place. Dale enjoys it, I enjoy it, the whole team enjoys it. We like running there because it's different. You love it but you hate it because you can lose a race car in the blink of an eye or you can get taken out of contention just as innocent as can be. It's a place you love to hate."

Robin Pemberton - Miller Lite Ford of Rusty Wallace - "At Bristol, you have to be aware of what's going on. The track is fast and that makes the spotters very important. You run 15-second laps there, and sometimes that's a problem. Because there could be something in one corner, and by the time you spit it out over the radio, you're already there. So, spotters are important. The race track is rough, but the most important thing to get through 500 laps there is to have a driver that loves it."

DO YOU THINK NASCAR'S QUALIFYING FORMAT COULD BE IMPROVED?

Jimmy Makar: "We all come in here with an even lot on things the first day. We have the same practice time and the same opportunity to get our cars ready. Ninety percent of the time, there's no excuse. You've taken your best shot that first day. If you don't run well, it's a disadvantage, but you shouldn't have an advantage going to second day. Think about it, you get more practice to get ready for second round - that's an advantage; you get another set of tires for second round - that's an advantage; the only thing that's a disadvantage is track conditions. But, it varies. I don't see any real changes you can make. Second round to me is another opportunity for a guy who screwed up the first day, or had a problem the first day, or something was wrong, to get in the show. When you look at the run-down after the first day, that's about where the field lines up anyway, even after second round."

Larry McReynolds: "The biggest improvement that could be made to qualifying is making it mandatory that you have to re-qualify in the second round if you don't make it on Friday. Don't give us the option of standing on our times. If a guy has a problem on Friday, like say he loses an engine or whatever, he's stuck because a lot of places we go to, the race track is slower on Saturday than it is on Friday. I just think they need to make it a rule that if you don't make it in the first round, you have to go out in the second round. That way it's even for everybody. They changed the rules a year or so ago giving second round qualifiers a new set of tires to go out on that was fair. But I think that making everybody go out and re-qualify on Saturday would be a move that would make things fair for everybody."

Todd Parrott: "The only other way to make qualifying better would be to put the whole 36-car field in on Friday. When you're doing a three-day show, that's the only fair way to do it. If people are complaining about qualifying on Saturday and having to keep that setup on Saturday morning, then they're thinking too hard about qualifying on Saturday and maybe they should be thinking about something else, like getting in the top-25 on Friday."

Robin Pemberton: "It's hard to say. If you don't get a good lap that first day, you've always got that second chance. But I think NASCAR is trying to even out qualifying at the race tracks where we qualify at night, because if you get a bad lap at night, it doesn't do you any good to go second day. It's hard. It's a difficult situation."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Jarrett , Bobby Labonte , Rusty Wallace , Mike Skinner , Mark Martin
Teams Team Penske