Grissiom has Momentum for Martinsville

Grissom has momentum for Martinsville MARTINSVILLE, Va. (April 15, 1998) In the past four races, Kodiak Chevrolet driver Steve Grissom has posted four top-20 finishes, including a 10th-place finish in the Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway,...

Grissom has momentum for Martinsville

MARTINSVILLE, Va. (April 15, 1998) In the past four races, Kodiak Chevrolet driver Steve Grissom has posted four top-20 finishes, including a 10th-place finish in the Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, his best finish of the season. The result has been a steady climb in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series standings for the 34-year old Gadsden, Ala., native.

He has risen from 32nd in the standings to 21st in that span, and knows that this week's Goody's Headache Powder 500 at Martinsville Speedway presents another great challenge for him and the Kodiak team to keep that momentum going.

"We look at Martinsville as a chance to keep our streak going," Grissom said. "We're working extra hard to make a good qualifying effort. A couple of times this season we've had to pit on the backstretch, and that has hurt us. We made good runs in those races and made up a lot of ground, but still, our finishes could have been even better if we had posted a better qualifying time. We want to qualify well enough to get a pit on the frontstretch this week.

"This Kodiak team has reeled off some great pit stops in the last few races that have helped us rally from way back in the pack to gain better track position and eventually post some pretty decent finishes. We want to improve on that and get better every week.

"We're really within striking distance of making the top-15 in points, and a good showing in the next couple of races would boost us that direction."

After seven races in 1998, Grissom trails 20th-place Dick Trickle by only 18 points (716-698), and he is just 20 points (718-698) from 19th-place Brett Bodine. Only 38 points (736-698) separates Grissom from 16th-place Ted Musgrave, so Grissom is eager to make a good run and post another good finish on Sunday.

Of the six races he has run at Martinsville during his NASCAR Winston Cup Series career, the talented Grissom has posted four top-20 finishes. In 1994, he registered 14th- and 12th-places finishes in both Martinsville events. He was 19th in the spring race in 1995 and 20th in the same spring race last year.

Grissom is no stranger to Victory Lane at Martinsville. He won a NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division race there in 1990.

"Any time you go back to a track where you have won, you go with a good feeling, knowing you have won there," Grissom said. "That adds a great deal of confidence to you and the team. Martinsville can be a tough little track, but it's another track where you have to be careful, watch what's happening around you, try to stay out of trouble, be patient, and if you're able to stick it out, you'll probably get a pretty good finish.

"You've also got to learn to use the brakes sparingly there. Brakes can be one of the first things to go at Martinsville. You can burn them up in a hurry if you lean on them too much. Just about every driver has experienced brake problems there. Several drivers have learned how to use them to the best advantage. Rusty (Wallace) is one, and look at the success he's had there.

"Here again, if you don't want to get lapped in a hurry, you've got to qualify well. If you're way back in the starting field, it doesn't take many laps for the leaders to get to you at Martinsville, and you definitely want to stay on the lead lap. So the better you qualify, the easier chance you have of staying on the lead lap longer and perhaps being a real contender late in the race."

For the first time in many years, Grissom, who was a standout athlete in both football and basketball during his high school years in Gadsden, will meet with his former football coach the morning of the DieHard 500 race at Talladega Superspeedway, April 26.

Grissom, who was senior captain of his team, played defensive end and linebacker, as well as several other positions at Gaston High School. He was so talented and competitive that he was recruited by several big colleges, including the University of Alabama and Auburn University, but turned down the chance to play football to pursue his dream of driving race cars for a living.

Jerry Smith, now head football coach at Sardis High School in Sardis, Ala., will be Grissom's guest for the DieHard 500, where the two will meet briefly with the media that morning. Then Smith will meet team owner Larry Hedrick, team manager Mike Hill, crew chief Charley Pressley and other Kodiak team members at the Kodiak transporter. Later, Smith and his son will watch Grissom's progress in the race that day from the Kodiak pit area.

Source: NASCAR Online

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Brett Bodine , Dick Trickle , Ted Musgrave , Steve Grissom