MBNA Gold 400 Saturday Notebook By Dave Rodman DOVER, Del. (Sept. 19, 1998) Notes and quotes leading up to Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series MBNA Gold 400 at Dover Downs International Speedway: Rusty Wallace continued a stout...
MBNA Gold 400 Saturday Notebook By Dave Rodman
DOVER, Del. (Sept. 19, 1998) Notes and quotes leading up to Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series MBNA Gold 400 at Dover Downs International Speedway:
Rusty Wallace continued a stout weekend as he led the 43 cars that participated in Happy Hour practice. Wallace ran a lap in 23.781 seconds, an average speed of 151.381 mph, on his 42nd of 47 laps in the session. A couple drivers with some Dover history were right behind him: Mark Martin at 151.318 mph in the Valvoline Ford and Kyle Petty -- whose last NASCAR Winston Cup Series victory came at Dover in 1995 -- ran 150.937 mph mph in the Hot Wheels Pontiac. Ernie Irvan and Jeremy Mayfield rounded out the top-five speeds in the one-hour session that was stopped twice by cautions.
Ted Musgrave brought out the first yellow in Happy Hour when his FIRSTPLUS Financial team had a car wrecked in practice for the second straight week. Fairly early in the session, Musgrave apparently cut a rear tire heading into Turn 4 and slammed the wall with the left front of the No. 13 Taurus. "I cut down a left rear tire and when I did the cap came right off it," Musgrave said of the hit that finished the car, but didn't hurt him at all. "We're planning on taking the engine, springs, shocks -- everything we can, off the primary car. I don't know.. It drove real good. The backup was the car they had to use at Richmond. This (primary) might've been a fifth-place car. We'll see about this one."
Steve Park tried a protective vest to cushion his upper body that was banged and bruised in an accident in testing early last week at Miami-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex. Park said he would simply "put extra padding in the seat" try to tough it out on Sunday. Just in case, his DEI team had David Green run a few laps in the No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet to qualify for a relief role in the MBNA Gold 400. "I'll let you know tomorrow if I can make it all the way," Park said cheerfully after Happy Hour. "I feel pretty good and after another good night's sleep I'll be even better. I hurt my back and I have some internal bruising that's bothering me the most. The bumps here really bother me. But once we get out there and start running around, like I did in Happy Hour, I think I'll forget about it. "Adrenaline will kick in, and I'm a tough guy, so I think we can do it. Still, to satisfy NASCAR's requirements, we had David Green run a few laps, to make sure the seat fits him OK and to try to get some feedback." And the result? "He got enough laps to mimic what I had been saying: It's tight coming off and there's just not enough grip trying to get up off the corner. Between me and him we're trying to give Philippe (Lopez, crew chief) enough to go on to get it right."
Kenny Wallace brought out the session's second caution when an oil line came loose on his Square D Ford. The team quickly fixed it and Wallace, atypically, continued on to run only 14 laps in the session.
Chad Little was a surprise atop the sheet for the Saturday morning practice prior to Bud Second-Round Qualifying. He turned in a lap of 23.535 seconds, at an average speed of 152.964 seconds. Todd Bodine set the stage for his fastest lap in the second round by running second in the LJ Racing/Larry's Homes Chevrolet. Dave Marcis was third quickest but couldn't back it up when it came time to qualify and he was on the trailer, again, before the day ended.
Larry McReynolds was concerned about not having been to Dover previously with Mike Skinner, but Skinner hung around the top-10 in both morning practice and Happy Hour. "Dover is another one of those races tracks where I haven't been with Mike yet," McReynolds said. "But when I look at the performance of the three and the 31 back here in June, hopefully we learned a lot of things not to do because neither car really ran that well. We had a good run with Dale there a year ago -- finished third. "Dover's a tough race track obviously. Getting your car to stay the same throughout the entire day is tough. You fall off into those corners awfully fast. You're not off the throttle very long for a mile race track. And getting your car to handle there consistently all day is a tough task, but if you're going to win the race, it's something you've got to work really hard on."
Todd Parrott, crew chief for Dale Jarrett's Ford Quality Care/Ford Credit Ford, said the team might have to rely on the same strategy that won them the MBNA Platinum 400 in May at Dover. "We had a really good car," Parrott said of that event, which held a surprise finish. "It wasn't the best car, as the 24 car was the class of the field. We just got lucky and won the race on fuel mileage. That only happens very rarely with us. That was the last race we won this year, so we're looking to Sunday. We've got the same car and we've done a lot of work to it to try and make it better. Hopefully, we can use some of the same stuff that we had at the first race."
Robin Pemberton, crew chief for Rusty Wallace's Miller Lite Ford, was another who was emphasizing fuel mileage, when he said of the May race, "Our fuel mileage was terrible and it cost us a lap early in the race. Performance is really the most important thing you work on, but we learned a valuable lesson on fuel mileage then. The car handled well. We'll probably make a few small changes, but we want to make sure we can run as long as anybody else on gas." Source: NASCAR Online