MBNA Platinum 400 Friday notebook By Dave Rodman DOVER, Del. (June 4, 1999) Notes and quotes Friday following Bud Pole Qualifying for Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series MBNA Platinum 400 at Dover Downs International Speedway: Rick Mast's No....
MBNA Platinum 400 Friday notebook By Dave Rodman
DOVER, Del. (June 4, 1999) Notes and quotes Friday following Bud Pole Qualifying for Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series MBNA Platinum 400 at Dover Downs International Speedway:
Rick Mast's No. 98 Burdette Motorsports Ford has an outrageous white paint job with "GUESS WHO?!! HAHAHA HA! HA!" emblazoned on it. Apparently they are words of enticement concerning a sponsorship announcement next week in Detroit for the team that was founded by former three-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Cale Yarborough. Yarborough sold primary interest in the operation earlier this year to South Carolina businessman Wayne Burdette. The normally loquacious Mast was fairly tight-lipped when asked about the sponsorship.
"Tune in next week and you will find out," Mast said, sporting his ever-present wide grin. "I've had a lot of fun with it this morning with people trying to figure it out."
The team has been without a full sponsorship since Yarborough lost Thorn Apple Valley Meats at the end of last season. However, Mast continued the team's strong Bud Pole Qualifying efforts by clocking the 22nd-best lap on Friday. "I can tell you everybody here is real excited," Mast said of his team. "This team is finally going to get some stuff that it needs. It's going to be a pretty good deal -- it's a multi-year deal."
Bobby Labonte picked up his third Bud Pole of the season Friday in the Interstate Batteries Pontiac, but it was not hard to see the Texan is champing at the bit to win a race, which he has not done despite sitting 3rd in the series point standings.
"We'll just have to wait and see if these faster speeds are better for the race or not," Labonte said after 32 drivers broke Mark Martin's track record. "We'll be able to judge that in practice tomorrow.
"We've won poles (this year), but we have no wins, even though we've come real close -- just like last Sunday night (the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway, where he finished 2nd after leading late). We just haven't been as fortunate as some of the others. Our program is good and is right where it needs to be. We don't need to make any changes. There are reasons why you don't win sometime and there are reasons why you do win at times."
Kyle Petty qualified 6th in the Hot Wheels Pontiac, but after his run he got more animated talking about youngest son Austin's impending qualification for a private pilot's license. Adam Petty's younger brother, who recently turned 17, just completed his sophomore year of high school.
"He's this close," said Kyle Petty, holding his thumb and forefinger less than a quarter of an inch apart. "He's been flying every day this week building his hours up. We bought him a 1961 single-engine Piper -- a neat little airplane."
"We tested some up here and, even though we didn't get a full day, we thought we might be able to do something," Petty said of his 157.819-mph lap. "This is our race setup for the most part, so we feel we have a shot at doing something. This has been a good track for me a lot of times. Maybe we'll see that again Sunday."
Hendrick Motorsports star Jeff Gordon and crew chief Ray Evernham had a fun day on Thursday at primary sponsor DuPont's headquarters in nearby Wilmington, Del. Gordon and Evernham signed autographs for a couple hours and visited all of the offices at the plant. Gordon took time in the annual visit to have his picture made with the children of DuPont employees.
Following Bud Pole Qualifying Friday night, Gordon continued his public service by traveling to the Billy Graham Crusade in Indianapolis. The appearance apparently was arranged by Gordon himself. Gordon spent several years in his early life in the Pittsboro, Ind., area, a suburb of Indianapolis. Gordon needed something to cheer him up after he put his DuPont Automotive Finishes Chevrolet into the field in 14th.
"The car tightened up a bunch on me there," Gordon said. "I didn't really expect that. I'd been loose all day long. We might have just gone a little bit too far."
Steve Park, a native of E. Northport, N.Y., and driver of the No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo, is in the midst of one of his favorite segments of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series schedule. Between now and mid-August, the series will visit Pocono, Pa.; Loudon, N.H.; and Watkins Glen, N.Y. -- all places where Park has plenty of experience in the Featherlite Modified Series, NASCAR Touring, and Busch North Series, NASCAR Touring.
"This (Dover) has been a good track for us," Park said, before qualifying just 28th. "We've been consistently in the top-15 in practice speeds. We're excited about our chances here. Coming from New York and having a pretty strong following there, we're definitely excited about some of the places coming up on our schedule.
"I love New Hampshire because I've done well there and I believe what I did there helped me to make the move down south. I also look forward to going to Watkins Glen, since it's a part of New York, too."
Unlike many of his cohorts, John Andretti felt like he didn't have a lot of security in his 12th-fastest No. 43 STP Pontiac Grand Prix.
"It's not good, though it was OK," Andretti said of the lap. "I didn't have a lot of grip on the track. I was sliding all around. We've been real good here in the past. Kyle's (Petty, his teammate) testing up here sure helped me some. We might not qualify well, but we can race all right here."
Ward Burton was only 15th in Bud Pole Qualifying in the Caterpillar Pontiac, but he could see a silver lining.
"That's better than how we've usually been qualifying this year," Burton said.
"Qualifying hasn't been our strong suit this year. We're still trying to figure some things out. By getting in the first round, we can now work on some race things tomorrow. That's good."
The team of John Hensley, Dick Lander, Dickie Lander, Dianne Lander and Sylvia Lander shot a 49 net on Thursday at the Maple Dale Golf Course in Dover to win the 14th annual 18-hole captain's choice golf tournament that benefits BayHealth Hospital of Dover. Denis McGlynn, president and CEO of Dover Downs International Speedway, helped tournament officials present a $30,000 check to BayHealth officials during ceremonies after the tournament.
NASCAR drivers Randy LaJoie, Tim Fedewa and Kevin Lepage, along with Lepage's wife, Donna; and TNN television and radio commentator Glenn Jarrett participated in the tournament. Jarrett served as the MC during lunch pre-tournament festivities. Golf entertainer Jay Golden of Winter Park, Fla., participated in various events with the tournament, conducting a trick-shot demonstration. Through its annual "Racing Yard Sale and Silent Auction" held recently, Cotter Group raised nearly $3,700 for Camp CARE, a non-profit organization that provides a summer camp to children who have cancer. The event dispersed many items donated by NASCAR race teams and sponsors.
"It's everyone's fantasy to turn trash into treasure," said Tom Cotter, CEO of Cotter Group. "That's exactly what we've been able to do here. While many of the pieces donated by the race teams may no longer be of any value to them, they certainly are to the race fans that bought them and especially to Camp CARE." Cotter Group will present a check to the camp organizers on Tuesday at their site on Lake Lure. Money was raised through selling sheet metal, a Goodyear Eagle racing tire, apparel, race programs, die-cast cars and Simpson safety equipment that included driver's gloves, shoes and helmet visors autographed by such NASCAR stars as Gordon, Mike Skinner, Jerry Nadeau, Jeff Burton, Dale Jarrett, Labonte, Chad Little and Yarborough.
Indianapolis 500 champion Kenny Brack, who will race in a Pep Boys Indy Racing League event at Dover on Aug. 1, plans to stop by the "Monster Mile" on Sunday to cheer on fellow Power Team driver Geoffrey Bodine in the MBNA Platinum 400.
Source: NASCAR Online