Henry's Phoenix ramblings 97-10-31

It's starting to look like that ...

It's starting to look like that #43 seat could be the most overlooked ride in Winston Cup. It's been a pretty solid week for that team...win on Monday, Pole on Friday, Defending Champion of the race this Sunday. If you look at the move of Bobby Hamilton to the #4 ride as lateral at best, you gotta figure he's doing some hard staring into that mirror right about now. I trust he's got a pretty good base salary, cause that team isn't on the Winners Circle for next year, and is behind the #43 in points.

Jimmy Spencer is the beneficiary of the "No Beer Decal" policy over at Petty Enterprises....he picks up the Busch money. This is his best starting spot since he had the pole at North Wilkesboro in October of '94.

Rick Mast had a good run Monday till they broke a camshaft. They backed it up today with Rick's best qualifying run since he started 2nd at Dover in September of '96.

STREAKIN...Bobby Labonte has 5 Top-10 starts in the last 6 races.

Brett Bodine wasn't taking any chances after missing last week's race. He's safely in this week at the 15th spot, but there are some other big names on the hot seat tonight.

We'll have 3 or 4 cars start the long trip home early, and that list could include some surprises. Here's how the second round looks: The 4 cars in the most trouble are Ricky Craven & Morgan Shepherd (they're both out of provisionals till the next race at Atlanta), and Wally Dallenbach & Gary Bradberry (they're not eligible for provisionals). Three of the drivers fighting for the last couple placings on time & provisional spots are David Green (37th in Owner Points this week), Jeff Green (38th), and Chad Little (39th). If you don't think points are important, remember this race next time you see those rolling wrecks running around 50 laps down on the apron. David Green is 2 points ahead of his brother, and Chad is only 57 points behind Jeff. Dave Marcis' position is tenuous at best, and it's possible that we could have a field of 43 should Bill Elliott get pushed out of the Top-38. I would expect that team to stand on their first-round time.

Most of the aforementioned on the trouble list need to pick it up at least a couple of tenths tomorrow. You can bet they're going over their notes tonight.

For a track that's relatively new to the WC circuit, they've got a pretty impressive former winner's list. 4 of the 9 winners were WC Champs, Alan Kulwicki got his first ever win at this oval (this was the sight of the famous "Polish Victory Lap"), Davey Allison is the only driver to win twice here, Bobby Hamilton got his first career win here, and guys like Mark Martin & Ricky Rudd show up on the list as well. Ford has won this event 6 times, Chevy twice, & Pontiac just once.

We could settle the championship run this weekend, or we could make Atlanta the final episode. In any event, with so many positions in the final points still up for grabs, with 2 spots still undecided on the Winners Circle Program for '98, with some seats still open & some sponsorships still not firmed up for next year, this week could go a long way towards answering some of those questions.

But, then again, we'd just think of a few more (G).

Henry Dubret (henry@nascarfans.com) _______________________________________ NASCAR Fans Website http://www.nascarfans.com

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Brett Bodine , Wally Dallenbach , Bill Elliott , Bobby Hamilton , Bobby Labonte , Jimmy Spencer , Jeff Green , Ricky Craven , Chad Little , David Green , Dave Marcis , Rick Mast , Morgan Shepherd , Davey Allison