TranSouth Financial 400 Notebook Shawn A. Akers - NASCAR Online DARLINGTON, S.C. (March 21,1998) Some notes and quotes Saturday from Darlington Raceway and the TranSouth Financial 400: Jeremy Mayfield, second in the NASCAR Winston Cup...
TranSouth Financial 400 Notebook Shawn A. Akers - NASCAR Online
DARLINGTON, S.C. (March 21,1998) Some notes and quotes Saturday from Darlington Raceway and the TranSouth Financial 400:
Jeremy Mayfield, second in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series points race, continued his struggles this weekend. He had to take a provisional for Sunday's race and will start 37th on the grid. Other provisionals were awarded to Bobby Hamilton, Ernie Irvan, Kyle Petty, Todd Bodine and Jeff Green. The past champion's provisional went to Darrell Waltrip in the No. 300 "Tim Flock Special."
Early-season woes continued for Wally Dallenbach, Dave Marcis, Hut Stricklin and Gary Bradberry. All failed to qualify and went home Saturday, as did Ron Hornaday, who failed to qualify the No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet while substituting for the injured Steve Park.
For now, Randy LaJoie is having fun in his return to the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. The two-time defending NASCAR Busch Series champion, subbing for the injured Ricky Craven in the No. 50 Budweiser Chevrolet, qualified 23rd for Sunday's race, his first NASCAR Winston Cup Series event since July 23, 1995 at Talladega.
"I can't say enough for Hendrick Motorsports and Budweiser," LaJoie said. "I'm just filling in for Ricky Craven. This is a great race team. They took a seat out of my backup Busch car and put it in this car. I made a couple of adjustments on it before qualifying.
"I hate it for Ricky Craven. You never want to have a race car river hurt, and Ricky is a friend of mine. I sure do like my Sunday's off, but I've always said if I got the call from one of the premiere car owners, and there's nobody better than Hendrick Motorsports, especially when they've won the past three Winston Cup championships. I'm driving for a Busch team that's won the past three Busch championships (BACE Motorsports). Life is good right now.
"It's a big change for 1995 to now in these Winston Cup cars. A good Busch team builds your confidence back up. Steering these things is fun. They're going to take some of my Sundays away, but that's OK."
LaJoie's best finish in his previous 27 NASCAR Winston Cup Series races was 12th at Bristol on April 2, 1995.
NASCAR Winston Cup Series points leader Rusty Wallace will attempt to continue his string of top-5 finishes to begin the 1998 season. Wallace has finished fifth, second, third and fourth in the first four events. The driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford is still looking for his first victory since March last year at Richmond and will start Sunday's race from the 14th spot.
"I feel great about the race," said Wallace, who has never won before at Darlington. "My biggest concern at this place is qualifying, and that was a pretty good lap we just laid out. We want to get this hot rod set up for a race, get a soft setup in her and get her crankin' and stickin' to the track."
In what has now become a three-way race due to the injury to Park, Kenny Irwin, driver of the No. 28 Texaco/Havoline Ford, leads the Raybestos Rookie of the Year point standings by a healthy margin over Kevin Lepage, 17-10. Jerry Nadeau is in third with nine points.
Irwin's fifth-place finish at Atlanta two weeks ago allowed him to regain the lead from Lepage. Irwin will get his second straight top-five start in Sunday's event.
The odds are stacked against Mark Martin winning Sunday's race, if statistics are any indication. The Bud Pole winner at Darlington has won just 19 of the 89 NASCAR Winston Cup Series races (21.3 percent) held at Darlington. Dale Jarrett was the most recent driver to win from the top spot, doing so in the 1997 TranSouth Financial 400.
Ted Musgrave, driver of the No. 16 PRIMESTAR Ford, was the fastest in "Happy Hour" practice on Saturday for the NASCAR Winston Cup Series cars, the final practice before Sunday's race. Musgrave turned a fast lap of 165.253 mph, barely besting Roush Racing teammate and Bud Pole winner Mark Martin (164.210 mph).
Source: NASCAR Online