Homestead Friday Notes

Florida Dodge Dealers 400K Notebook Dave Rodman - NASCAR Online HOMESTEAD, Fla. (April 3, 1998) The following are notes and quotes from the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Florida Dodge Dealers 400 at Miami-Dade Homestead Motor Sports Complex.

Florida Dodge Dealers 400K Notebook Dave Rodman - NASCAR Online

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (April 3, 1998) The following are notes and quotes from the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Florida Dodge Dealers 400 at Miami-Dade Homestead Motor Sports Complex.

For a while in Bud Pole Qualifying Friday at Homestead, it was shaping up as the perfect homecoming scenario for Tyler Jet MotorSports and crew chief Dave McCarty.

Rich Bickle , the 35th driver to hit the track, stole the Bud Pole from Ron Barfield by more than a tenth of a second and for a moment it looked like he was going to make new owner Tim Beverley look like a genius. Bickle ended up third on the grid, in which less than one second covered the starters who made it into the field on time. The truck he's using won in its last time out, at Martinsville Speedway in September.

"This is kind of like a reunion for us," said McCarty, who engineered three wins and three Bud Poles with the No. 17 Sears DieHard Chevrolet and Bickle a year ago. "The new owner wanted us to come down here and run the Homestead race, but we said, 'who are we gonna get for a driver?' He said, 'let's try to get Rich.'

"It all fell into place and the only concern I had was that after being away from truck racing from three or four months we wouldn't quite as good as we thought we were gonna be. It's just like we picked up where we left off."

That took some deft management by McCarty, since only half of the previous truck team, which finished second to Jack Sprague in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series last year, is left.

"Our schedule is on a day-to-day basis right now," McCarty said. "Everything is up in the air and we don't know ... We're pursuing sponsorship, whether it be Winston Cup or trucks ... or whatever. Tim's working hard at that.

"He was going to see how we qualified. I guess he'll be jumping on the plane and flying in tomorrow morning."

Race fans are invited to attend the pre-race drivers' and crew chiefs' meeting prior to the Florida Dodge Dealers 400. The meeting, which is often opened to the public at truck events, will be held at 11 a.m. EST in front of the Brugal Rum Pavilion, which is located behind the main grandstands.

SealMaster Racing, which runs driver Terry Cook, announced primary sponsorship from Nokia, the world's second-largest manufacturer of mobile telephones, at Homestead.

Nokia, which joins the PBA Tour on the No. 88 Chevrolet, will use its involvement to promote the "Nokia presents the George Strait Country Music Festival by Chevy Trucks" program. The festival, which is in New Orleans this weekend, will travel to 18 cities across the country this year.

Following Bud Pole Qualifying Hendrick Motorsports crew chief Dennis Connor maintained his sense of humor but also complimented his driver, pole-sitter Sprague, the only NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competitor who has won a pole in each of the four years the series has existed.

"You know, it's ALWAYS all the driver, ya know what I'm talking about," Connor said, grinning broadly. "Jack's one heckuva driver but it takes the whole package, and today the Hendrick Motorsports, Quaker State, GMAC, Rotary Lift Chevrolet run pretty good."

Sprague qualified second and finished sixth the last time this truck was used, for The No Fear Challenge at the California Speedway last October.

"I don't know where that lap came from," Sprague said. "I didn't think it was that good and it didn't feel that good, but the guys done a great job. The truck's good and I'm pumped up and ready to go. They tell me we're close on a primary sponsor but we're helping out the 1-800-MARROW2 program this weekend and trying to do a good job for them."

Driver Jimmy Hensley will have a "big" rooting section for Saturday's race, including truck owner Richard Petty and seven members of the "local" Miami Dolphins NFL team who will attend on behalf of Players Inc., an associate sponsor on the No. 43 Cummins Engine Co. Dodge.

Players expected to be on hand include Trace Armstrong, Zach Thomas, John Kidd, Shane Burton, Larry Izzo, Jason Taylor and Derrick Rogers.

"Not testing put us behind, especially having a brand-new untested truck with a brand-new version of a nose piece," said Team ASE crew chief Barry Dodson. "We've learned about it the whole time we've been here, and that (qualifying) was our best lap, so we've got no complaints."

Dodson's driver, Mike Bliss, posted the best lap in the half-hour "Happy Hour" practice, 146.935 mph. In that session, the first 15 trucks were separated by about four tenths of a second.

Ryan McGlynn, a member of the Cintas Rookie of the Year class of 1998 from Wilkes-Barre, Pa., made a special appearance at a Cintas news conference on Friday at Homestead.

"I've got a great sponsor and a hard-working team," said the driver of the Buyers Choice Racing Team, who hopes to make his series debut in May at I-70 Speedway in Odessa, Mo. "I put all the pressure on myself to perform well."

While defending race champion Kenny Irwin is in Texas competing in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series Texas 500 this weekend, eight of the other top-10 finishers in last year's race are in Homestead, including Bliss, Chuck Bown, Sprague, Ron Hornaday, Dave Rezendes, Rick Carelli, Butch Miller and Lance Norick .

Thursday evening's inaugural NASCAR/PBA Charity Bowling Tournament at the Homestead Bowling Center raised $3,375 for the American Cancer Society. Seventeen drivers participated, including former champions Hornaday and Sprague. Many crewmen and officials also bowled, joining the members of a local NASCAR Bowling League.

L&R Motorsports teammates Miller and Norick visited the North Miami Children's Hospital on Thursday evening. In addition, L&R announced that the Automobile Protection Corporation's Easy Care brand of "Extended Vehicle Service Contracts" has joined their program as an associate sponsor.

Roush Racing's truck teams for drivers Greg Biffle and Joe Ruttman will join other Ford teams in a test at Nashville Speedway USA the Wednesday and Thursday following the Homestead race to practice for the August visit to the high-banked half-mile.

Veteran NASCAR Winston Cup Series crew chief Jeff Hammond spent one race with the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series before he returned to the NASCAR Winston Cup Series with Roush Racing and driver Chad Little.

Before he left he spoke well of the four-year-old series, saying "I enjoyed it. It's a good series. It's the best opportunity I know of as far as a training series for everyone. It's a controlled environment that allows drivers to think about what they're doing, regroup and figure out what they need to do next. It's probably got some of the closest competition of all the NASCAR series. It's maybe the best building ground for new crew members, because it allows you to go at a pace where you can teach them something. Running a truck takes a lot of finesse yet you also go to facilities where you have to be able to draft."

If his performance at the season-opening Chevy Trucks Challenge was any indication, Mike Wallace be a threat to win Saturday's event. The truck the Ken Schrader Racing team is using at Homestead is the same truck it competed with in Orlando, where Schrader led the race with less than five laps remaining before being involved in an accident.

The team was unable to attend the test at Homestead because it was working to get the truck ready for the race.

"We spent most of the break getting this truck back to where we had it in December," said Timmy Kohuth, crew chief of the No. 52 Dayco No Slack/Purolator PureONE Chevrolet. "We had other trucks, but we wanted to bring it home and get it fixed. It was good before, but it is even better now."

Driver Wayne Anderson is one of only three native Floridians -- along with Michael Dokken of Clearwater and Scott Lagasse of St. Augustine -- entered in the Florida Dodge Dealers 400. Anderson, a current resident of Wildwood, Fla., was born in Hialeah, a Miami suburb. He was the only one of the three to qualify for Saturday's race, driving the Porter-Cable Ford.

The Porter-Cable Racing team is under the direction of new crew chief Troy Selberg, who most recently directed the MCI Dodge team and Bickle at Orlando to an impressive 10th-place finish. Last season he served as crew chief for Stacy Compton and the No. 86 truck team.

The deal with Selberg is currently only for the Homestead event. The team will explore a long term deal with Selberg or other candidates after the event.

The Albertson's/Greased Lightning 75, the second round for the Slim Jim All Pro Series, a NASCAR Touring Division, will precede the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series feature when it gets the green flag at noon. The race will be televised on TNN: The Nashville Network at 1:30 p.m. on May 3.

Mardy Lindley, the son of the late NASCAR National Sportsman champion Butch Lindley, won the pole for the race with a lap of 37.799 seconds, an average speed of 142.861 mph, in the Grand American Race Cars Chevrolet. Bobby Newling in the NewFab Chevrolet qualified second in the 32-car field.

Source: NASCAR Online

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Rich Bickle , Ken Schrader , Greg Biffle , Mike Wallace , Stacy Compton , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Jack Sprague , Lance Norick , Terry Cook , Chad Little , Joe Ruttman , Richard Petty , Ryan McGlynn , Michael Dokken , Jimmy Hensley , Rick Carelli , Mike Bliss , Scott Lagasse Jr. , Ron Barfield , Wayne Anderson
Teams Hendrick Motorsports