Darlington Friday Qualifying Notes

TranSouth Financial 400 Friday notes Shawn A. Akers - NASCAR Online DARLINGTON, S.C. (March 20, 1998) Notes Friday after Bud Pole Qualifying for the NASCAR Winston Cup Series TranSouth Financial 400 at Darlington Raceway: Randy...

TranSouth Financial 400 Friday notes Shawn A. Akers - NASCAR Online

DARLINGTON, S.C. (March 20, 1998) Notes Friday after Bud Pole Qualifying for the NASCAR Winston Cup Series TranSouth Financial 400 at Darlington Raceway:

Randy LaJoie was chosen Friday to drive the No. 50 Hendrick Motorsports Budweiser Chevrolet for Sunday's racein place of Ricky Craven, who could miss up to three months of the 1998 season due to lingering effects from a head injury suffered last year in a practice crash for the Interstate Batteries 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

In his first qualifying effort in the No. 50, LaJoie was 23rd fastest in Bud Pole Qualifying, putting him safely in the field for Sunday's race. He'll start on the inside of Row 12, alongside Jeff Gordon, after turning a lap of 166.811 mph.

"This is a tremendous opportunity," said the two-time defending NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division champion and current point leader. "The first thing was to get the car in the race, and then deal with Sunday."

LaJoie's last action in a NASCAR Winston Cup Series car came with Bill Davis in the No. 22 MBNA Pontiac in 1995. LaJoie started the season with the team, and, after several mediocre performances, he and the team parted ways.

LaJoie has stated on several occasions that he isn't interested in moving up to the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, unless the right opportunity comes along.

Bad fortunes continue to plague the Dale Earnhardt Inc. No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet team. Ron Hornaday, who was chosen to drive the car this weekend in Steve Park's absence, hit the wall between Turns 3 and 4 during a Friday afternoon practice session.

Hornaday was unhurt, but the car wasn't. The Pennzoil Chevrolet suffered extensive damage to the back end, and the team was forced to go to a backup car for Bud Pole Qualifying. Hornaday placed 49th -- last -- with a lap of 160.932 mph, and will have to pick up some speed in Bud Second-Round Qualifying Saturday or the No. 1 car will miss yet another race.

Park was injured in an accident while practicing for the PRIMESTAR 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway two weeks ago.

To add insult to injury, Dale Earnhardt didn't turn in such a good qualifying lap himself Friday. Earnhardt was only 41st-fastest in Bud Pole Qualifying, with a lap of 165.259 mph. Barring a dramatic improvement in the second round, Earnhardt will definitely have to pit on the backstretch for Sunday's race.

Despite the latest rule change, in which two inches were taken off the width of the spoiler of the Ford Tauruses by NASCAR, Fords still dominated Bud Pole Qualifying Friday. The top-five qualifiers sat behind the wheel of Tauruses, and six of the top 10 cars were Fords.

Mark Martin, who secured his second career Bud Pole Award at Darlington, led the way with a lap of 168.225 mph. Roush Racing teammate Jeff Burton was second at 168.284 mph, followed by Dale Jarrett at 168.186 mph, Dick Trickle at 168.163 mph, and rookie Kenny Irwin, turning in a lap of 168.140 mph.

The top non-Ford was the Interstate Batteries Pontiac of Bobby Labonte, at 168.129 mph. Sterling Marlin had the top Chevrolet, running eighth.

Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Dick Trickle , Steve Park , Sterling Marlin , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Ricky Craven , Mark Martin
Teams Hendrick Motorsports