Report from Motorsport News International NASCAR Public Relations HANES 500 WILL RUN MONDAY The NASCAR Winston Cup Series will run its last short-track race of the 1997 season -- it just...
Report from Motorsport News International
NASCAR Public Relations
HANES 500 WILL RUN MONDAY
The NASCAR Winston Cup Series will run its last short-track race of the 1997 season -- it just won't happen until Monday. Rain at the track has forced NASCAR to postpone the Hanes 500 at Martinsville Speedway until 11 a.m. EDT Monday. When it gets started, you'll see plenty of bumps and taps, and lots of skill at work -- it ought to be worth the wait. So join us then for the action!
ESPN will carry the race beginning at 11 a.m. EDT.
Hanes 500 Quotebook
MARTINSVILLE, Va. (Sept. 28, 1997) The following are quotes from selected drivers preparing for Monday's Hanes 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
JEFF GORDON No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes
"The track is going to be different for awhile until we get some rubber built up in the groove and run some laps. There's no telling exactly what our car is going to do. Yesterday a lot of guys were strong. It seems like every time we come back here it gets more and more competitive. Our car felt great. It's doing everything we want it to do. I'd love to have a car like we had at Bristol. It was awesome that day. Maybe things will turn out a little different than it did at Bristol.
"Any time you're at Martinsville it's going to be a little bit rough. That's why we named this car Bruiser. We expected to come out of here with a lot of bruises. As long as all four wheels are still on it and it's still driving OK that's all that matters here. There's a lot of bumping and banging that goes on out there.
"No points lead is comfortable enough. It's going to be tight all the way down to Atlanta. We're battling with Mark Martin and Dale Jarrett. Those guys run good everywhere, and we've got to run good everywhere. We just hope we make the right decisions and right calls.
"We started third here last time and had a good pit stall on pit road. It makes it a little easier to get good track position. It makes it a little tougher and we've got our work cut out for us. Maybe we can get some green flag laps and work our way up there. It's real hard to pass, but it is an excellent car and it feels good this weekend, too.
"We tested a lot here a couple of years ago and went out and made some long runs and really worked hard on watching where the guys who have won races here run. Kyle Petty had some really strong runs, Rusty Wallace always runs good here, and I tried to run those similar lines. It really paid off. I really found something and got the car working well where it'll roll around the corner and then drive up off.
"This is definitely a driver's track. You can have an excellent car here, but if you don't drive it just right, it'll never feel right to you. It takes the total team to get it all done here, and we've got a good combination when it comes to that. Being too careful will get you in just as much trouble as going out and being aggressive and winning. When I get in that race car, I can't really control the fact I want to go out there and win and run as hard as I can every lap. I can be right on somebody's bumper lap after lap after lap and somebody will come on the radio and say don't forget you're running for the championship. It doesn't matter at that point. At that point, you're doing whatever you can to pass the car in front of you or to try to win the race.
"That's what we need to do. We need to keep doing what we've been doing all year long. Certain times you've got to think about things. You don't want to go three wide. You don't want to make hasty decisions that can get you in trouble easy. We're going to be thinking points, watching the guys we're racing, the 6 and 88. We're also going to go out there and try to win."
JOE NEMECHEK No. 42 BellSouth Chevrolet
"This makes is a very short weekend. Lucky for us, Tony Glover and the guys were thinking. Our backup car for Martinsville is the one we're going to run at Charlotte. They unloaded it last night and took it back. They had to give it a new paint job. They're going to put the correct motor in it and get the setup ready. Hopefully, it'll be sitting there ready to go on Tuesday and all they'll have to do is go in and do the fine tuning.
"Rain probably affects Martinsville more than most tracks. A couple of years ago we had a rain delay and it was the most slippery thing I'd ever been on for about a hundred laps. Then our car got real good, and we had another rain delay and started all over again and it got really loose. I think most of the crews have made some changes. Hopefully, we've made the right ones.
"Everybody will have to have patience when we start the race on Monday. The track will probably be slick and if you go out there and try to charge hard, you're either going to burn up your tires or get spun out or something is going to happen. Normally, when it rains, the outside groove is the place to be for awhile. I'm starting fourth row outside. Maybe that will be good. I was kind of treading it this morning. The bottom is usually the place to be. We almost won a couple of Busch races up here by passing on the outside. It just depends on the situation. Is it cloudy or sunny? How much rubber is down? There are so many factors. At one point we had a buy blow up on the bottom groove and everybody had to run up on the top. So many things change.
"The Fords are going to be tough here. They've got a good package now. We've got a little more spoiler coming for Charlotte. I wish it was double that. We'll take anything we can get and try to take advantage of it. The Pontiacs got a little bit two weeks ago and they started running better. I think NASCAR is doing a good job keeping everybody equal. Just as long as they keep a watch on it. It's tough. I think the Chevrolets have been at a deficit all year, except for Jeff Gordon. He's the hero right now. He's on a roll, but you're out there sliding around and there's nothing you can do. You just need more downforce. Now NASCAR gave us a little more and hopefully it'll pay off. Kyle Petty had the most awesome race car I'd ever seen at Dover. He was on a rail and gone. You hate to see these races come down to fuel mileage, but that's just another part of it.
"We've never been on a pole for a points race at Charlotte, but we've been on the outside pole for the Busch race. We won the Busch race last time, and hopefully we can defend that this time. We're going to run our BellSouth Mobility Chevrolet Monte Carlo there. Maybe we can win two in a row. We're going to qualify good. Our motor department is doing a great job. They need to get a lot of the credit. Without the motor you can't go. Without the power under the hood, you're beat. You can run it harder for a little while, but when you get the tires hot, the guys who have more motor are really going to leap ahead. That's what you've got to look for. You've seen a lot of Chevrolets win poles this year, but the deal with qualifying is you're riding for one or two laps on good tires and you can do with less downforce and you can rely on the grip of the tires to get your car set better. The guys who are braver and get it closer to that edge of wrecking are going to be the guys who go faster. Once you start running long runs, you put 50 laps on those tires and you're sliding around and the track is slippery. You have to see who's got the best package and those are the guys who will be going to the front.
"Charlotte is a big race, but if you can win any Winston Cup race you've done something. I'd give anything to win one right now. We'd really like to win here tomorrow and go to Charlotte with a lot of momentum. Charlotte is home. You've got bragging rights when you win there, but you've got bragging rights when you win anywhere."
STEVE PARK No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet
"It's going to be a big day on Monday. We'll get in this race and then go to Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet for the Dale Earnhardt, Inc., open house at Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet. They're expecting somewhere in excess of 15,000 people. We're all planning to go there. It'll be a Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet open house with no Dale Earnhardt or Steve Park for some of the day. Dale Jr. can go, but for Dale, I know it's important to him. That's all he's talked about the last couple of days. This is my first year, so I'm looking forward to it.
"I've been in a race car every single day this week. It started out with Felix Sabates testing at Greenville-Pickens. That started at seven in the morning until 1. Then I tested at Charlotte from 3-10 that night. It rained out the next day. Thursday we were at Charlotte all day with the Busch car. On Friday, we went to Martinsville. It's been a long week, but I gained a lot more experience at Charlotte. I've only run two races there. Getting to test there in the Cup car and Busch car just gave me that much more time on the track. I'm a lot more comfortable there than I was at the beginning of the year. We had two good tests there, and I'm looking forward to going back.
"I'm in Winston Cup mode right now. If we can get back to the track on Wednesday at Charlotte and practice and qualify and get a good run in on pole night, we'll concentrate on the Busch car Thursday. That's what good about Charlotte. The Busch and Cup are separated by days. The Cup guys have Friday off when the Busch guys are running. Wednesday is all Cup, so I don't have to bounce back and forth. It's going to make it easier for me to get a good run in with both cars. I'm looking forward to it. I'd like to win Charlotte in the Cup car, which is probably a little far off. I'd like to win it in the Busch car, knowing that I'm leaving the series, and knowing how important Charlotte is, not only for myself but the guys and ACDelco. I'd love to leave the Busch Series with a win at Charlotte."