SONOMA, Calif. (June 25, 2000) - This year's first road-course race of the season at Sears Point Raceway was like a filming of the television show "Survivor" for Chad Little and the John Deere Motorsports team. Fortunately for the No. 97 team,...
SONOMA, Calif. (June 25, 2000) - This year's first road-course race of the season at Sears Point Raceway was like a filming of the television show "Survivor" for Chad Little and the John Deere Motorsports team. Fortunately for the No. 97 team, they were able to overcome numerous obstacles to post their 13th top-25 finish of the season in 16 races.
With only 34 cars pitted on pit lane, Little and eight other competitors were castaways on the island pit road for Sunday's Save Mart/Kragen 350K. The John Deere team didn't let that stand in the way of their goal of a top-25 performance, however, and with the improved road-racing techniques of Little behind the wheel of the John Deere Taurus, the team rallied around the challenges they faced. Little honed his skills around the 1.949-mile raceway with the running of Saturday's Southwest Series race, hoping the extra seat time would provide an advantage for Sunday's main event.
Little lined up the John Deere Taurus in the 40th starting position and methodically moved his way up the field when the green flag dropped, signaling the start of the 350 kilometer race. One-by-one Little squeezed his Roush Racing machine between the competitors, keeping four wheels on the windy road course. At the midway point of the 112-lap race, Little picked up 15 positions, residing in 25th, prior to the third round of pit stops. Fine-tuning was done throughout the afternoon to keep up with track conditions, as Little mentioned a tight-handling condition that persisted over the course of the afternoon.
Little entered the pits for the final time on lap 69, and the extended caution period allowed Little to run the final segment without the need of a further pit stop. Staying pace with the leaders after the green flag dropped, a 50-lap dash to the finish occurred. Little moved up to the 19th spot on lap 92, but as the final laps ticked away, Little crossed the finish line in 25th position.
Little's 25th-place finish puts him in 21st position in the Winston Cup point standings, 93 points out of the top 15 heading into Saturday's Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway. Little's Quotes
"We were out here racing for points today, and we were able to get the John Deere Ford in the top 25 today. I think this car had a little more inside of it, but we weren't able to make the changes we felt we needed to during the last caution period.
"We, at the least, wanted to walk out of here with a top-25 performance, and we were able to accomplish that goal today. We have some work to do before the Pepsi 400 next weekend, but we feel this is one of our strongest tracks coming up. We're close to where we were in the points last year as we begin visiting tracks for the second time this season, but we hope that we can improve in both the starting positions and finishing positions as the year progresses."