Little pulls off surprising seventh-place finish Shawn A. Akers - NASCAR Online DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 15, 1998) It's only been one race, but Chad Little's relationship with Jack Roush already is beginning to pay off. The driver of the...
Little pulls off surprising seventh-place finish
Shawn A. Akers - NASCAR Online
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 15, 1998)
It's only been one race, but Chad Little's relationship with Jack Roush already is beginning to pay off.
The driver of the No. 97 John Deere Ford, who had posted only three top-10 finishes in 123 previous NASCAR Winston Cup Series starts, pulled off perhaps the surprise of the Daytona 500 by finishing seventh in Sunday's "Great American Race." It was Little's first effort for his new car owner.
"I'm just real pleased because it's one of my best finishes ever, and I think to run most of the day in the top 10 was quite a reward for everyone," said Little, who ran 16 races for Mark Rypien in 1997. "You work real hard to get to this point, so it feels good."
Little had only one top-10 finish a year ago for Rypien. He had only one top-10 finish while driving his own car for a full NASCAR Winston Cup Series schedule during the 1991 campaign.
Because it couldn't get a Taurus ready enough to run at Daytona, the No. 97 John Deere team opted to race an old reliable Thunderbird. Robert Pressley was the only other Ford driver to race a Thunderbird on Sunday.
Little kept the Thunderbird in the midst of the lead pack most of the afternoon, and at times, showed signs of challenging for a top-5 finish. "The car handled well all day long. We had some pretty good stops," Little said. "The car was handling well, I just had to get back into position. We had one set of tires there, the second to the last were awful. I couldn't do anything with them. I was just barely hanging on, so I was in a bad position for the last 25 laps, but it worked out."
Little's finish was not only an upset in regards to the rest of the field, but also within the confines of the Roush Racing stable. Little was the highest finishing car among the four Roush cars participating in the Daytona 500, which turned out to be a huge disappointment for Roush.
Ted Musgrave brought his No. 16 Primestar Ford Taurus home in 20th, one lap down to race winner Dale Earnhardt. Mark Martin encountered mechanical problems and finished the race 13 laps down in 38th. Jeff Burton suffered engine problems and wound up finishing 40th.
The other Roush car, the No. 26 Cheerios Ford of Johnny Benson, didn't even qualify for the Daytona 500.
Courtesy of NASCAR Online