Jerry Nadeau's Rookie Diary - Chapter 1

Editor's Note: Jerry Nadeau, driver of the No. 13 FIRSTPLUS Financial Ford Taurus, will chronicle his first full season on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series in a special series for NASCAR Online. The Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate will...

Editor's Note: Jerry Nadeau, driver of the No. 13 FIRSTPLUS Financial Ford Taurus, will chronicle his first full season on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series in a special series for NASCAR Online. The Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate will share his thoughts every two weeks as his first-year team, owned by Bill Elliott and Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino, battles the odds, and the competition. Be sure to check back as he shares his thoughts with fans.

Jerry Nadeau's Rookie Diary -- Chapter 1

By Jerry Nadeau

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 13, 1998)

Well, here I am at Daytona. I've always been watching, waiting and wondering what this was all about and I'm finally here and I'm tickled to death. We arrived here last week for our first round of qualifying, and we didn't qualify as good as we thought we would, but when we went out and raced, the car ran really good. So I'm really excited. I'm excited for the guys on the team, who have worked real hard.

They put in so much time over the winter, and now it's here. And to be in the race, I'm still pinching myself to see if it's true or not.

During practice,you're making two-lap runs, just to see how fast you can go. When Bud Pole Qualifying comes around, you just go all out all by yourself and try to go as fast as the car can go. We qualified 34th out of 58 cars that showed up, which wasn't too bad, being a new team. We figured that's where we were going to be. It's a shame that we were ahead of our boss (laughs), but that's the way it goes. (laughs) It was good that we had a good starting spot for the 125s; we started 15th, and basically I just tried to stick to Michael Waltrip's bumper, and we worked our way up. We got all the way up to fourth or fifth. Finally, at the end of the race I dropped back a bit. I knew we'd qualified and I just wanted to protect the car and our finish.

Yesterday Dan came to the track. He's a big influence. When he was out here yesterday, he was like a little kid in a candy store. He is a great car owner; both Bill and Dan are. The nice thing with Bill is he's so experienced, if I need to go talk to somebody about what to do, I've got somebody to talk to. And if I need somebody to get me upbeat, Dan Marino is the type of guy you go talk to. He was up on top of the building yesterday, watching us race yesterday in the 125s, smiling from ear to ear. He was ecstatic that we got in the show, then he took everybody out to eat. After dinner, he said a little speech, and then he had to take off to go back to Miami.

I'm not nervous when I look to Sunday. I'm just excited. I'm excited for the guys. We've got so many new guys; you've got guys thrashing back at the shop, working so hard. I'm one of those type of persons that when I win a race, I like to see everybody else smile. I didn't win a race, but just making the Daytona 500 feels like a victory. This is my job; this is what I do every week. It's all I've done since I was 4 years old. So I'm ecstatic to be in the race. I'm looking forward to doing the whole race. I don't want to get in any trouble with anyone out there. I'm not looking to thrash up front right away. I mean, I'm a rookie, and there's not going to be anyone out there that's going to give me much room. So I'm basically on my own, and hopefully I can get some guys to work with me and have a good, safe race.

I'm looking forward to writing ya'll, and telling ya'll about what's going on as a rookie. There's a lot that happens. I'm sure a lot of people wonder what it's all about. And hopefully I can explain the best I can while I'm racing, and let you know what's going on with the FIRSTPLUS Racing Team.

Courtesy of NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Michael Waltrip , Jerry Nadeau