News 97-10-22

NASCARFans E-Mail List ===== "As it now stands, Steve Hmiel will serve as Johnny Benson's crew chief next season in the revamped Jack Roush organization, but the plan is subject to change almost weekly"(iRace)/Jayski ===== "Car owner Larry Hedrick...

NASCARFans E-Mail List ===== "As it now stands, Steve Hmiel will serve as Johnny Benson's crew chief next season in the revamped Jack Roush organization, but the plan is subject to change almost weekly"(iRace)/Jayski ===== "Car owner Larry Hedrick is in danger of losing crew chief Charley Pressley, and still hasn't re-signed driver Steve Grissom"(iRace)/Jayski ===== "In testing at North Carolina Motor Speedway(Rockingham) last week, Dale Jarrett's Ford had the fastest lap time, but Bobby Hamilton's Pontiac was fastest over the long haul"(iRace)/Jayski ===== "Richard Petty continues to get closer to signing John Andretti as his driver for next season. Sources close to the situation say something must be determined by the middle of next week"(iRace)/Jayski ===== BGN News: ARCA Driver Perry Tripp will drive the #7 Ed Whittiker owned Chevy at Rockingham: Dale Earnhardt Jr will drive the #31 Chevy with Wranger as a sponsor at Rockingham(Wranger was Dale, Sr's old Sponsor): Kevein LePage, Mike Wallace and Greg Sacks are in the running to drive the #4 James Finch owned Lance's Snacks Chevy in 1998, Jeff Purvis could return if no sponsor is found so he and #12(#28 in BGN) owner Larry Lockaby can run Winston Cup: Mike Laughlin wants to keep Jeff Fuller in the #45 Chevy for 1998 but needs a sponsor, he also plans to run son Mike in 5 events: Matt Kenseth plans on staying in the Robby Reiser owned #17 Chevy in 1998 depending on if they find a sponsor(RPM2Nite)/Jayski ===== During testing at Atlanta on 10-21, Kenny Irwin, Jr was fastest in one of Dale Jarrett's Ford T-Birds at 193.711mph. Irwin will of course run the #27 Ford there and the remaining 1997 schedule in WC. The rest of the top 10: #33, 88, 24, 3, 31, 30, 14, 36 and 4.(RPM2Nite)/Jayski

Here's some more on this from NASCAR Online:

The test results of seventeen NASCAR Winston Cup drivers served to confirm that Robby Gordon's Atlanta Motor Speedway track record of 186.507 mph will be likely be obliterated when NAPA 500 Pole Day gets under way on Friday Nov. 14. Ironically, the fastest driver was the only one without an Atlanta Motor Speedway start to his credit.

In fact, Kenny Irwin Jr. doesn't even have a superspeedway start in NASCAR Winston Cup racing on his resume. But the 28-year-old Indianapolis, Ind., rookie recorded a blistering lap of 193.711 mph in the Ford Credit/Quality Care Ford driven by 1998 teammate Dale Jarrett that had the entire garage area buzzing.

"He's about three-tenths of a second a lap faster than I am," Jarrett said. "And I'm not running slow."

Jarrett, whose first of six 1997 victories came in last March's PRIMESTAR 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, clocked a fast lap of 191.304 mph. That was faster than anyone but Irwin and Chevrolet driver Ken Schrader (191.966).

"Turning laps the way we did today might have people thinking I'm going to be a lot better from the start than I really am," said Irwin, who has earned NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victories at Texas and Homestead, Fla., this year.

Those tracks are nearly identical in size to Atlanta Motor Speedway, the 1.522-mile oval built in 1960 that was reconfigured to a 1.54-mile quad-oval this summer.

"The track has a lot of grip. It's very fast," said Irwin, who is scheduled to drive the No. 27 Blair Motorsports Ford in the NAPA 500 on Sunday Nov. 16. "Robert (Yates) has these cars set up so comfortably that it's real easy to run all out. Once you get out there, you don't realize how fast you're going. Jarrett's car didn't prove to be completely comfortable, however. Because the lanky Irwin doesn't fit perfectly in Jarrett's seat, he spent the lunch hour being treated by a chiropractor summoned by team owner Robert Yates.

"He turned some other peopl's heads with the laps he was running out there," Yates said with a smile.

The fourth-fastest driver was 1995 NASCAR Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon, who leads Mark Martin and Jarrett in the chase for the 1997 title, which probably won't be decided until the waning laps of the NAPA 500.

"We have to treat Atlanta just like a new track," Gordon said. "We've run pretty well on the new tracks this year. I don't think the new track will have an effect on the championship, because it's the same adjustmen for everyone in the points race." ===== "Roush Racing announced today that PRIMESTAR Partners will be returning as the primary sponsor on the No. 16 Ford Taurus, driven by Ted Musgrave, in 1998 NASCAR Winston Cup Series competition. Terms of the multi-year agreement were not disclosed." (NASCAR Online/Jayski) ===== "Three-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Darrell Waltrip will be a featured guest when TNN's Prime Time Country presents its annual "Salute to Motorsports" on Wednesday, Oct. 29. Hosted by Gary Chapman, the 60-minute program airs at 9 p.m. EST on The Nashville Network."(NASCAR Online)/Jayski ===== Sparky from iRace is hearing Randy LaJoie's name linked to the driving vacancy at Petty Enterprises in the #43 Pontiac (Jayski) ===== NASCAR's Web site had more than 4.3 million hits and 1.1 million users in February, the month of the sport's top race, the Daytona 500. It has been ranked by the NPD Group/PC-Meter as the 18th top site in terms of popularity on the World Wide Web. (Charlotte Observer) ===== There is much involved with the containers that NASCAR teams are sending to Suzuka City, Japan for the postseason NASCAR Thunder Special - Suzuka on Nov. 23. The containers are shipped over a period of nearly a month, traveling by highway, railway and eventually by ship across the Pacific Ocean to reach the Japanese mainland. The 40-foot containers are required to be shipped no later than this week to ensure on-time arrival in Japan for the international NASCAR demonstration event. All of the shipping is handled by Nippon Express, one of the largest business conglomerates in Japan. "The logistical challenge to move cars and equipment for 30 NASCAR teams and more than 450 personnel is significant," said Paul Brooks, NASCAR director of special projects. "However, these challenges are well worth the long term benefits our sport receives when showcased before a global audience." (NASCAR Online) ===== NAPA Auto Parts has signed a multi-year agreement to sponsor Martinsville Speedway's fall NASCAR Winston Cup Series weekend beginning in 1998. (NASCAR Online) ===== Here's a good article by the Charlotte Observer's motorsports columnist, David Poole:

A side from the rapidly approaching ``it's now or never'' aspect of the premise, there's as much reason to expect a Pontiac victory in a Winston Cup race this week as has been this season.

The circuit swings into the Sandhills for Sunday's AC Delco 400 at N.C. Motor Speedway in Rockingham, where Pontiac has enjoyed marked success recently.

Since 1988, Pontiacs have gone to Victory Lane nine times at Rockingham, while Fords have won six and Chevrolet four. For a carmaker who hasn't tasted victory this season, that kind of history has to look good.

More the point, though, expectations have to be high because of recent performances by Kyle Petty and Bobby Labonte.

Petty has quietly turned in a solid first season with his PE-2 team. He finished out of the top 25 in six of seven races ending with Talladega's May race and fell to 27th in points. Since, however, Petty has been in the top 10 in 12 of 21 races and is 16th in points.

Petty clearly had the strongest car last month at Dover, finishing third because Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt got better gas mileage. Petty was ninth two weeks later at Charlotte, then seventh Oct. 12 at Talladega.

``At the beginning of the year we were thankful every time we ran in the top 20,'' Petty said. ``Then, we were thankful every time we ran in the top 15. Now, we're running in the top 10.''

Despite finishing seventh, Petty wasn't pleased after the DieHard 500 at Talladega. He felt his engine was substandard and attributed his finish to avoiding a 23-car wreck that took out many front-runners.

Even before that race, though, Petty pointed to Rockingham.

``I told them before the Talladega race, `Don't worry about this race,' '' Petty said. `` `We'll do the best we can. Then, we'll go to Rockingham and kick their butts.' ''

Petty has kicked some at N.C. Motor Speedway. He has five poles there, tops among active drivers, and three of his eight victories have come at the 1.017-mile track. His most recent win there came in October 1992.

Labonte, on the other hand, does not have the same kind of resume. His only top-five finish at Rockingham was a second in the first race of the 1995 season.

Still, Labonte's recent performance indicates his team has adjusted to the Pontiac. Labonte switched from Chevrolet before this season.

``I hope a win is around the corner,'' Labonte said after his runner-up finish to brother Terry Labonte at Talladega. A week earlier, Bobby Labonte was second to Dale Jarrett in the UAW-GM 500 despite a cracked cylinder head.

The second-place finish at Talladega was his 17th top-10 of the season. He won three times in 1995 and closed 1996 with a victory at Atlanta. Even if he doesn't win this year, Labonte is all but certain to post his best points finish. He's seventh, three spots ahead of his 10th-place finish two seasons ago. ===== Mike Irwin ( NASCAR Fans _______________________________________

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , John Andretti , Bobby Hamilton , Dale Jarrett , Darrell Waltrip , Matt Kenseth , Bobby Labonte , Terry Labonte , Kyle Petty , Jeff Fuller , Robby Gordon , Mike Wallace , Johnny Benson , Jeff Purvis , Richard Petty , Steve Grissom , Jack Roush , Robert Yates , Greg Sacks , Mark Martin