California 500 presented by NAPA Friday notebook By Brett Borden FONTANA, Calif. (April 30, 1999) Notes and quotes Friday leading up to Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series California 500 presented by NAPA at California Speedway: Jeremy...
California 500 presented by NAPA Friday notebook By Brett Borden
FONTANA, Calif. (April 30, 1999) Notes and quotes Friday leading up to Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series California 500 presented by NAPA at California Speedway:
Jeremy Mayfield isn't talking about golf when he says Saturday will be a scramble for the NASCAR Winston Cup Series drivers. He's referring to the lack of track time that he and his colleagues will have had at California due to rain on Friday. The teams had no practice sessions Friday, and Bud Pole Qualifying for Sunday's race was rained out, with starting spots determined by points. "(Calling off Bud Pole Qualifying) is probably the best thing to do, but a lot of guys are scrambling right now. It left us with about an hour to get some race setup decisions made for that first practice. I like the fact we have some extra time on track setup practice, but I wish we had some extra time today to talk some things over. Those Saturday practices (11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. and 5-6 p.m. ET) are going to be crucial for everybody. There is going to be some serious scrambling tomorrow."
Ernie Irvan is excited to race in his home state. The Salinas, Calif. native is very impressed with the way California Speedway has developed in a short period of time. "California Speedway is getting better every time we race there," he said. "When we first ran there it was pretty much a one-groove race track, but this time we're going to be racing two-wide. I pretty much expect to see someone set a new track record as well. California is a two-mile track and we turn some really fast speeds and quick times.
"The M&M's Racing Team is on the brink of having some really good runs. All we need to do is put together a string of top finishes and we'll be in good shape."
Terry Labonte is one of just three drivers to have completed all 500 laps of the first two runnings of the California 500 presented by NAPA. Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon is another, as is Ricky Rudd. Labonte was second in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series standings after 10 races last season, but enters this year's event 8th in points. Rudd has very fond memories of Southern California. He won his first NASCAR Winston Cup Series race at Riverside International Raceway in June, 1983.
"I've always enjoyed racing in the Los Angeles area," said Rudd. "About 15 percent of my fan mail comes from this area. I didn't realize it had been so long since that first win at Riverside. Things have changed a lot since then. I never thought at that time that our sport would grow to become what it is today."
One victim of the rain was Boris Said. The former NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competitor was set to make his NASCAR Winston Cup Series debut in the No. 14 Federated Auto Parts Ford, but had to pack up and go home as the field was set based on owner points. In 47 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series starts, Said recorded seven top-10s, four top-5s, and a victory at Sears Point Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.
Ricky Craven will be pulling a different sort of double duty this weekend, as will Ken Schrader. They will be starting both the NASCAR Winston Cup Series California 500 and the NASCAR Winston West Series California 200.
Michael Waltrip and Elliott Sadler, past and present drivers of the No. 21 Citgo Ford, celebrated birthdays Friday. Waltrip turned 36, while Sadler is now 24 years old.
Source: NASCAR Online