NAPA AutoCare 500 Friday notebook By Shawn A. Akers MARTINSVILLE, Va. (Sept. 25, 1998) Some notes and quotes Friday following Bud Pole Qualifying for the NASCAR Winston Cup Series NAPA AutoCare 500 at Martinsville Speedway: Mike Bliss,...
NAPA AutoCare 500 Friday notebook By Shawn A. Akers
MARTINSVILLE, Va. (Sept. 25, 1998) Some notes and quotes Friday following Bud Pole Qualifying for the NASCAR Winston Cup Series NAPA AutoCare 500 at Martinsville Speedway:
Mike Bliss, driver of the No. 2 Team ASE Ford in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, is making his NASCAR Winston Cup Series debut this weekend. Bliss won't return as the driver of the No. 2 Team ASE Ford next season, and says he hopes to be able to gain more NASCAR Winston Cup Series and NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division experience in the near future.
"Eventually, that's where I'm leaning," said Bliss, who qualified 25th for Sunday's race in the No. 96 Caterpillar Chevrolet. "This race is going be a huge bit of experience for me, and I hope to maybe run some Busch and some more Cup races next season, too.
"Right now, I'm a little bit nervous about my situation for next year, even a little bit worried about it. I wanted to do something different for next year, to get some experience on the bigger tracks like Talladega and Daytona, tracks that will prepare me to make the step up."
Rich Bickle said Friday he's not exactly sure if he'll be back for another year with Cale Yarborough Motorsports in the No. 98 Thorn Apple Valley Ford. One thing is for sure, though: he'll be on the race track.
Bickle, who qualified fourth for Sunday's race, said if he doesn't run a NASCAR Winston Cup Series schedule next season, he'll at least run some NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races next season out of his own race shop, with his own team.
"I'll at least have something to fall back on," said Bickle, who also qualified third for Saturday's NAPA 250 truck race. "I'd like to be able to run a full Cup schedule, but if not, I hope to run at least 15 Busch races and a few truck races. I know that I won't be in the position I was in at the beginning of the season this year."
Bickle was without a ride for several weeks before Greg Sacks was injured at Texas, allowing Bickle to jump into the No. 98 Ford.
Ricky Rudd's streak of at least one victory a season for 15 years is on the line with seven races remaining in 1998. Rudd has won at least one race per year every year since 1983.
Rudd is currently tied with Dale Earnhardt and Darrell Waltrip for the most consecutive seasons ever in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series with at least one victory. Earnhardt's string ended in 1997, but he won the first race of this year, the Daytona 500.
Todd Bodine gave the No. 91 Little Joe's Auto Chevrolet team something to cheer about on Friday. Bodine, in just his second race in that car, qualified 12th for Sunday's race, turning a fast lap of 92.960 mph.
"Bodines like Martinsville," Bodine said. "We've been coming here a lot of years. It's kind of like home. We had all kind of problems in practice. Little things were happening and messing us up. (Crew chief) Doug (Richert) took a shot at qualifying and made some changes. Everything worked out perfect. The car was good, the best it had been all day."
Todd's brother, Brett, qualified just ahead of him in 11th place with a lap of 92.997 mph. Geoff Bodine, a four-time race winner and seven-time Bud Pole winner at Martinsville, wasn't as fortunate, qualifying 27th.
Bobby Hamilton won't be starting up near the front for Sunday's NAPA AutoCare 500 like he was for the spring Goody's 500. Hamilton, who won the Bud Pole for the spring race and went on to dominate the event, will start from the 19th position after a qualifying lap of 92.696 mph.
"We needed a little more, but that's about what we've been practicing," said the driver of the No. 4 Kodak Chevrolet. "We tried a little different engine combination this time. We tried the SB-2. We ran the 18-degree motor here the last time. We're going to race the 18-degree I think. The SB-2 felt good. We've got the same car, the same setup we had last time. It drives good."
Source: NASCAR Online