Martinsville Race Notes

NAPA AutoCare 500 Sunday notebook By Shawn A. Akers NASCAR Online MARTINSVILLE, Va. (Sept. 27, 1998) Notes and quotes from Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series NAPA AutoCare 500 at Martinsville Speedway: You can just about color Dale ...

NAPA AutoCare 500 Sunday notebook By Shawn A. Akers NASCAR Online

MARTINSVILLE, Va. (Sept. 27, 1998) Notes and quotes from Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series NAPA AutoCare 500 at Martinsville Speedway:

You can just about color Dale Jarrett gone from the race for the 1998 NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship. The driver of the No. 88 Quality Care/Ford Credit Ford, who came into Sunday's race 337 points behind Jeff Gordon, fell even further behind after finishing 42nd due to a broken camshaft.

Running in the top-five at the time, Jarrett dropped out of the race after 298 laps after slowing and stopping on the backstretch. He had to be pushed into the pits by Kenny Wallace, who was subbing for Jarrett's teammate Kenny Irwin in the No. 28 Texaco-Havoline Ford.

Jarrett is now 470 points behind Gordon with six races remaining.

"I was running down the backstretch, and the motor started making a funny noise, and then it quit," Jarrett said. "It's a shame, because we had a good car, and we were running probably the best we hd all day before it happened. That's just the way it goes. This place isn't too kind to us, but at least we ran well."

It's been a long, frustrating year for Rich Bickle, and Sunday's fourth-place finish was a welcome relief for the driver of the No. 98 Thorn Apple Valley Ford.

Bickle's previous best finish this season had been 18th in the Goody's 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway in August. He took over the seat of the No. 98 Taurus for the injured Greg Sacks in April.

"I don't know what to say. It's pretty emotional for me," Bickle said. "This is like a win. The Thorn Apple Valley Ford guys did a heckuva job. We ran out of brakes at the end. We held the 99 car off and we told them last week when we ran good at the end of Dover that we can run with these guys if you give me something to drive and the guys did a heckuva job bringing me something here that was pretty danged good."

It was hot, hot, hot at Martinsville. Heat exhaustion took its toll on a few drivers on Sunday afternoon. Irwin made it only 180 laps before the rookie was replaced in the No. 28 Texaco-Havoline Ford by Wallace, whose No. 81 Square D Ford gave out on him after 150 laps.

Ted Musgrave gave up his seat in the No. 77 Jasper Engines Ford on lap 225 to Steve Grissom, who was released this past week as the driver of the No. 41 Kodiak Chevrolet. Musgrave was filling in as substitute driver for the injured Robert Pressley, the regular driver of the No. 77 Jasper Engines Ford.

"Now that's what you really call a hot seat," Musgrave said. "I think I've got some blisters now. That car was extremely hot in the seat, and I'm starting to get a little blistered back there. All it's gonna do is make me get out for Charlotte, and it ain't worth it."

Hut Stricklin stood by in Ricky Rudd's pits throughout the afternoon as Rudd complained of heat exhaustion as well, but Rudd never relinquished his seat.

Also feeling the effects of the heat was Bill Elliott, driver of the No. 94 McDonald's Taurus. Elliott was treated by the AirCare medical personnel following the race. Elliott finished seventh, his best performance in quite some time, but suffered a heat blister on his left heel.

The medical team administered oxygen to Elliott and gave him plenty of fluid to drink. After 30 minutes of treatment, Elliott walked out of his team's trailer.

"I feel fine now, but I didn't feel so good after the race," Elliott said. "The heat took its toll today. I thought we had a good day of racing and I am pleased for the entire team. If anything hurt us today it was our pit location. But overall, this was a good effort today and I feel this team is on a rebound."

You picked a fine time to leave me, loose wheel... Geoff Bodine lost a wheel, his right front, on lap 267, causing a caution and doing enough damage to his No. 7 Philips Consumer Communications Ford that he finally had to retire on lap 387 due to handling problems.

"I'm fine, I was all right in the car," Bodine said. "The right front wheel studs broke or the hub broke, one or the other. The right front wheel came off and I don't know why. We had a good car. We got behind and when you're behind you just try to survive this thing. That's all we were trying to do. I don't know why the wheel came off, but I'm glad we didn't hit the wall like John Andretti."

Speaking of Andretti, the driver of the No. 43 STP Pontiac was cruising along in the lead on lap 104 when he hit the wall. Andretti had led for 40 laps, but he wound up finishing a disappointing 37th.

Andretti completed 419 laps and retired due to handling problems.

"The car was awesome and John was doing a great job with it," said crew chief Robbie Loomis. "We lost the right-front there on lap 104, and from then on it was hell. Coming off Turn 4, the right-front tire blew. We raced about the same setup we've been racing here, but we'd never raced in this hot of a condition. We abused the right-front and that ended up killing us."

Mike Bliss survived the heat and the attrition to finish 25th in his first NASCAR Winston Cup Series race. Bliss is a regular in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, but has expressed his wishes to move to the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division and then on to the NASCAR Winston Cup Series full-time.

Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers John Andretti , Rich Bickle , Bill Elliott , Dale Jarrett , Kenny Wallace , Hut Stricklin , Robert Pressley , Ted Musgrave , Steve Grissom , Mike Bliss , Greg Sacks , Robbie Loomis