MBNA Platinum 400 Sunday notebook By Dave Rodman DOVER, Del. (June 6, 1999) Notes and quotes following Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series MBNA Platinum 400 at Dover Downs International Speedway: Jeremy Mayfield was pumped up Sunday after he...
MBNA Platinum 400 Sunday notebook By Dave Rodman
DOVER, Del. (June 6, 1999) Notes and quotes following Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series MBNA Platinum 400 at Dover Downs International Speedway:
Jeremy Mayfield was pumped up Sunday after he scored his second straight top-10 finish in the Mobil 1 Ford, and his 6th of the year through the first 13 races. "Well, we kept the streak alive," Mayfield said, smiling. "That's two races and two top-10s since Peter (Sospenzo) moved up to crew chief. We've qualified in the top-10 for both races too, so we're making progress."
Mayfield said fuel strategy, which hurt 2nd- and 3rd-place men Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin, also affected his day.
"Our guys were helping Rusty's guys with the fueling and we didn't get the tank vented for that last pit stop, so we didn't quite get it to where it was supposed to be," said Mayfield, who finished 9th. "We came within a half-gallon of being right there. It's just one of those things. You could have taken a swig and spit enough gas in there for us to finish. We were running 6th at the time, so we felt pretty good about that.
"I don't think it's anything less than Michael (Kranefuss) and Roger (Penske) expected when Peter moved up to crew chief. This is a good race team and everybody is working hard to show that. You need to finish in the top-10 consistently and that's what we're starting to do."
The same could be said for winner Bobby Labonte, who remained in 3rd place in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series point standings after scoring his 5th straight top-5 finish, and 9th of the season. "We're awful consistent right now, and that's the name of the game," Labonte said. "We go into each race with the confidence of winning -- the confidence of running up front. We figure that the wins will come. Hopefully, this won't be the last one. The first one of the year, we definitely needed to get this one under our belt, because it's been awhile. Still, we're having a lot of fun. It wouldn't have mattered if we didn't win today, I think we would've got it sometime this year."
Martin added $2,000 to the pot of money he's raised for Big Brothers-Big Sisters this season. Martin's on-track performance in the Valvoline/Cummins Ford, combined with contributions from Valvoline and NASCAR fans, had brought the current total raised for Big Brothers-Big Sisters to $112,284 coming into Sunday's race. Valvoline is donating $5,000 for every NASCAR Winston Cup Series race Martin wins this season, $2,500 for each Bud Pole and $20 for every lap he leads in the "Caring Hands" program. Martin led 100 laps Sunday.
Bobby Tracey, gasman and truck driver for the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford and driver Rusty Wallace, injured his left ankle in a mishap just before the third caution period, when Wallace pitted. Tracey was taken to the infield care center where officials said he would have to go to a local hospital for x-rays to determine if the ankle was broken. The race track was opened under caution so an ambulance could transport Tracey to the hospital, where it was discovered he had a hairline fracture of his foot. According to team officials, Tracey was apparently hit by an air gun and a lug nut that spun off a tire as Wallace was leaving the pits. Team publicist Tom Roberts said "We expect him to be released from the hospital here and go home with the team -- I don't think he'll be driving the truck, though."
John Andretti persevered into 13th in the No. 43 STP Pontiac, but it was an up and down day. "It was a long day, but he drove his heart out," crew chief Robbie Loomis said. "He always drives hard."
"We didn't start off as good as we should have," Andretti said. "There at the end, we got the car pretty good. But it was right at the end. By that time, it was too late."
Kyle Petty, a former winner at Dover, was reminiscing about the "good old days" after he finished 32nd in the No. 44 Hot Wheels Pontiac. "It pushed at first," he said. "Then we got it right and it wasn't that bad after that. There are no more long days at Dover since they went to 400 miles. You have to remember, I ran here when it was 500 miles. Those were long days."
Johnny Benson was excited to post his first top-10 finish of the season, coming home 7th. That was quite a bit better than his previous high mark of 11th. "The guys did a great job tuning the engine so we could get the fuel mileage that we needed," Benson said of his crew, led by new crew chief Pat Tryson. "I'm telling you what, the guys just done good all day. The car was terrible at the beginning, and Pat and the guys got it good. And we hung. I've got to definitely thank Cheerios for staying with us during the hard times. Hopefully the good times will keep coming. We definitely have to build on this. There's no doubt. Everybody is still real supportive. We just hate running bad."
Dale Jarrett maintained his lead in the point standings, but that was all he was happy about. "We were too tight at the start, and then we got it too loose," said Jarrett, who managed to lead 21 laps in the Quality Care/Ford Credit Ford. "It just stayed too loose there for a while. Finally at the end we got it tightened up where we could go for a while, but that made it too tight at the end. We just missed on the set-up a little bit, but we made another top-5 out of it, and that's the things you have to do whenever you're not the best."
Jeff Burton, who right now is Jarrett's main challenger for the point lead, was also none too pleased with his race in the Exide Batteries Ford, despite finishing 8th. "It wasn't very good," he said. "We started out real loose. Actually we got good there during the second run. Then it was bad from then on. It was either too loose or way too tight. We never hit the middle, never could find it. We struggled all day. We struggled all week to be honest. We probably ought to consider ourselves lucky to come out of the race."
Ricky Rudd has been struggling, so he might've been happy to finish 14th in the Tide Ford. But Rudd expects much better, and said so. "We should have ended up 8th or 9th, something like that," he said. "But we lost one lap when we run out of gas, and it stalled on pit road and couldn't get it running, and we lost some time. At times it was pretty racy. That very first run killed us. We got a lap down, and that got us in a hole. After that we got the car adjusted, and it run pretty good, anywhere from a 5th- to 8th-place car. But giving up that time with gas, and then the other time we just missed the first set-up."
Rich Bickle was disconsolate after the MBNA 400, as his 10-10-345 Pontiac had been at the bottom of the times sheets for the entire weekend. At that, he might've been OK with a 33rd-place finish, but it was not the case. "Disgusted," he said. "We missed the boat when we got here and we missed the boat today. We were just terrible. No excuses. The car was bad. It was junk!"
Source: NASCAR Online