Loudon Friday Notes

Farm Aid on CMT 300 Friday Notebook by Dave Rodman LOUDON, N.H. (Aug. 28, 1998) Notes and quotes following Bud Pole Award Qualifying for the Farm Aid on CMT 300 NASCAR Winston Cup race at New Hampshire International Speedway: Ray ...

Farm Aid on CMT 300 Friday Notebook by Dave Rodman

LOUDON, N.H. (Aug. 28, 1998) Notes and quotes following Bud Pole Award Qualifying for the Farm Aid on CMT 300 NASCAR Winston Cup race at New Hampshire International Speedway:

Ray Evernham was grinning from ear to ear at the end of the day Friday, and it wasn't just because Jeff Gordon had won his seventh Bud Pole Award of the year. Evernham, a former NASCAR Modified driver, touring six laps around New Hampshire International Speedway in a Modified owned by Art Barry, clocking a best lap of 32.13 seconds, an average speed of 118.543 mph. "I actually had to make myself come in," said the respected crew chief, known as 'Hollywood Ray' during his driving days. "Lap by lap, it was actually starting to feel too good."

Evernham had not driven a Modified since November 1991, which was about the time a serious accident at Flemington (N.J.) Speedway effectively ended his competitive driving career. The car Evernham drove was qualified 15th for Saturday's Farm Aid on CMT 300 Featherlite Modified Series by Barry's son Ken Barry at 30.199 seconds/126.123 mph. Art Barry's primary car won the Bud Pole driven by Mike Ewanitsko.

Evernham was the only one shaking during the ride.

"I heard him but I didn't see him -- I was too nervous to watch," said Gordon, citing the slick track conditions. "From what he told me it was a birthday present, and he had actually planned to do it in July until we got rained out."

Jeremy Mayfield, who has been trying to find the magic ever since he scored a flat-track breakthrough win at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania in June, seemed to be on the right track Friday morning when he posted the fastest time in the opening two-hour practice session for Sunday's Farm Aid on CMT NASCAR Winston Cup Series race.

Mayfield tip-toed successfully around the 1.058-mile flat oval while a good number of his fellow competitors were having difficulty adjusting to the new coat of "asphalt reconditioner" that had been put down on the "Magic Mile" since the Jiffy Lube 300 NWC race in July. Mayfield's best lap in the No. 12 Mobil 1 Ford was 29.815 seconds, an average speed of 127.748 mph.

Rounding out the top-five speeds in first practice were Mark Martin (Ford, 127.585 mph), Ken Schrader (Chevrolet, 127.385), Kyle Petty (Pontiac, 127.363) and Rick Mast (Ford, 127.130).

Schrader came back to run the fastest speed in the one-hour practice before Bud Pole Qualifying, then he backed that up by qualifying third. Mayfield kept it up by qualifying sixth.

Jimmy Spencer was back in the seat of the Team Winston No Bull Ford after giving up Travis Carter's Ford after starting the Aug. 9 Bud at The Glen, then sitting out races at Michigan Speedway and Bristol Motor Speedway on successive weeks. Spencer -- who had Ted Musgrave on hand as a stand-by in case he needed relief help while he recovers from a minor concussion and other injuries he suffered in a crash in the Aug. 1 Brickyard 400. -- wasn't far off the pace in first practice as he logged-in at 30.165 seconds/126.266 mph. He continued to impress when he qualified 17th at 127.036 mph on the slick track. "Teddy Musgrave did a great job helping us last week and he's gonna help us out again tomorrow," said the tenacious Spencer. "We had a problem in the last hour of practice with either a u-joint or the transmission, so we never made a qualifying run in practice.

"This is a good start coming back. Hopefully we can get closer to the top-10 in points. We're not giving up on that yet."

At New Hampshire Dennis Setzer was back in the No. 13 FirstPlus Financial Ford, which seemingly continues to struggle (qualified 38th) while trying to decide on a driver either for the rest of this season, or for next year. On its "return" from Bristol, the 13 truck actually got no farther than Statesville, N.C., and the unit has moved into the same building as the No. 94 McDonald's operation. The complex, which is a little more than 30,000 square feet, does have two truck bays, which is a plus, although its storage space is reportedly lacking. Eight of the former crew based in Dawsonville, Ga., relocated to North Carolina while five others stayed behind to work with Ernie Elliott in the engine shop that remained in Georgia. Reportedly "everyone was offered jobs," although Joe Snyder, the No. 13's team manager, was released in the transition. At this point Team Manager Mike Beam is overseeing both teams. Five cars are being moved from Georgia to Statesville and the teams hope to pool their rolling stock.

The opening NASCAR Winston Cup practice was a "trying" time for no less than six drivers, including three of the top-six in the point standings. NWC neophyte Ron Fellows, who is attempting to make his first stock car start on an oval after posting some creditable oval runs in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, was the big loser as he slapped the wall twice in his primary Caterpillar Chevrolet. The second "dinger" forced the team to bring out its backup car and Fellows was eventually credited with the 31st-quickest time in opening practice.

Dale Jarrett spun his Ford without contact and Sterling Marlin made "incidental" contact with the wall, but Dale Earnhardt seriously scuffed his Chevrolet, Ernie Irvan shortened his Pontiac and Jeff Burton, who won the Jiffy Lube 300 here in July, comprehensively destroyed his Ford.

Local favorite Ken Bouchard of Fitchburg, Mass., had a short homecoming when the engine in his Trix Racing/Premier Steel Fabricating Chevrolet broke during morning practice, causing the team to withdraw the black and day-glo lime No. 79 for lack of a back-up powerplant.

Derrike Cope's 1990 Daytona 500-winning car owner Bob Whitcomb of Keene, N.H., was an interested spectator all day long at NHIS, shaking a lot of hands and talking over old times with a number of his contemporaries. Whitcomb owned the car Bouchard drove to the NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie of the Year title in 1988.

Bobby Labonte is eagerly anticipating the announcement of a sponsor for 1999 NASCAR Winston Cup teammate Tony Stewart's ride, and its unveiling next week at Joe Gibbs Racing. "It's not easy pulling off a successful team, but then again I've never been a part of one so I'm really looking forward to it," Labonte said. "There's no guarantees it'll work, but we certainly hope it will. We know there's a lot of benefit to it both financially and for testing purposes. You would think he (Stewart) would draw more on my experience, but we don't know that he won't take our stuff, make some changes and go faster with it. We're counting on some mutual benefit."

Dave Marcis is wearing a new color scheme promoting TNN's "Inside Outdoors." Now, he's hoping he can find the four-and-a-half tenths he lost from the last practice to Bud Pole Qualifying, to pull him up from 41st and get him into the field. "The first cars that go out don't ever seem to do anything here, historically," Marcis said. "We were pretty disappointed because we ran a (thirty seconds) flat on old tires and qualified at 30.55."

Robert Pressley's Jasper Engines Ford team is currently looking for a crew chief, as Mike McSwain has tendered his resignation to the No. 77, although he's with the team at New Hampshire this weekend. "Michael decided he'd like to try something a little bit different," said Pressley, who squeaked into the field on the first day in 24th spot. "It's that time of the year and people are looking around. We convinced him to stay with us and see if he can get us pointed in the right direction."

The Farm Aid on CMT 300 race will be broadcast on MRN Radio with more than 400 affiliate stations across the country signed up to carry the broadcast. The race is scheduled to be telecast live by TNN: The Nashville Network. Eli Gold, Buddy Baker, Dick Berggren, Glenn Jarrett, Matt Yocum and Steve Byrnes were among the talent scouring the NHIS garage.

Weekend sponsor CMT (Country Music Television) will present Atlantic Records recording artist Mila Mason, known for hits including "That's Enough of That" and "Dark Horse," to sing the National Anthem for the Farm Aid on CMT 300. In addition, country music legends Bobby Bare, 1964 Grammy Award winner for "Detroit City;" and Jerry Reed will be at NHIS Sunday for the Farm Aid on CMT 300.

Dale Shaw hopes to get back to the South to continue the startling debut he made in the NASCAR Busch Series last year with James Finch. But in the meantime he's found a comfortable home back in the Busch North Series, where he won a race in a car he built himself earlier this season at NHIS. He's rejoined with car owner Quint Boisvert, for whom he won the 1994 series title and, after running at the front at Watkins Glen before experiencing ignition trouble he's finished fourth and ninth in the next two races. He qualified 10th at NHIS and is looking at a strong 100 laps Saturday in the Skoal Bandit Pontiac. "There's no added pressure (with the NASCAR Winston Cup cars here)," he said. "I go into every race to win and the pressure never really changes. I'm here to help this team finish out the season strong and, I hope, get some good publicity out of it as well."

Before landing the ride with Boisvert and making the commitment to finish the year Shaw, who is a talented fabricator as well as a notable driver, had said he would return South "in a heartbeat" given the right circumstances.

NASCAR Thunder -- the "Official Store of NASCAR" -- will open the retail chain's 13th store on Friday, Sept. 18 at Valley View Mall in Roanoke, Va. Legendary driver Bobby Allison, one of NASCAR's "50 Greatest Drivers," will appear at the grand opening from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. to greet fans and sign autographs. In addition, NASCAR driver Ricky Rudd is scheduled to make an appearance at the Roanoke store on Thursday, Sept. 24, from 5 - 6:30 p.m. Allison is scheduled to appear at the Richmond NASCAR Thunder store on Thursday, Sept. 10 from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.

Source: NASCAR Online

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Derrike Cope , Jeff Gordon , Ernie Irvan , Dale Jarrett , Bobby Labonte , Jeremy Mayfield , Tony Stewart , Kyle Petty , Ken Schrader , Jimmy Spencer , Sterling Marlin , Robert Pressley , Ron Fellows , Ted Musgrave , Dennis Setzer , Dave Marcis , Rick Mast , Ray Evernham , Bobby Allison , Buddy Baker , Mark Martin
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing