News Wednesday 97-09-17

NASCARFans E-Mail List Chuck Rider, owner of the Bahari' Racing team, has confirmed that 1990 Daytona 500 winner Derrike Cope of Spanaway, Wash., would drive the team's Pontiacs for three years beginning in 1998. In addition, Rider announced...

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Chuck Rider, owner of the Bahari' Racing team, has confirmed that 1990 Daytona 500 winner Derrike Cope of Spanaway, Wash., would drive the team's Pontiacs for three years beginning in 1998.

In addition, Rider announced that chassis builder Steve Leavitt would join the team to construct its cars in-house.

"I really am excited about this," Cope said in confirming the deal. "I've tried to stay at places, and I'm not known for moving around a lot -- I just had to at times due to circumstances. I believe in staying and working through the problems, as long as everyone is open-minded and receptive to listening and making an effort to try to get better." (NASCAR Online) ========== Veteran Morgan Shepherd of Conover, N.C., will rejoin Richard Jackson's R&L Carriers/Precision Products Racing NASCAR Winston Cup Series team for the final seven races of 1997, according to team manager Eddie Jones.

Shepherd, who had three top-10 finishes and two other races in which he finished 12th in the first 13 races this season while driving for Jackson, also scored the organization's best finish, third in the Purolator 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He left following round 13 while in 22nd in NASCAR Winston Cup points due to the team's lack of solid sponsorship.

Precision Products Racing picked up added backing from R&L Carriers and continued the season, with NASCAR Winston Cup rookies Jerry Nadeau and former NASCAR Winston West champion Lance Hooper driving. But a spate of wrecked race cars and a couple non-qualifying efforts led to a reunion of the season-opening team.

"We were real happy with the way Morgan ran the car at the beginning of the season," Jones said. "Other than a couple of things he had nothing to do with, Morgan was real competitive, he ran as high as 17th in the points, had the third place finish at Atlanta and was running real well at several other races.

"Then we had the sponsorship difficulties, but Morgan had a real good relationship with the crew and everybody is real enthusiastic about him coming back. At this point, as far as I know he's with us for the last seven races, and R&L is very much in agreement and wanted it to happen." (NASCAR Online) ========== Todd Bodine will be the stand in driver at Dover for Jeff Burton if Burton does not feel good enough to race. Burton plans to practice, qualify and start the race, but may need relief. Per RPM2Nite, Doctors say Burton is probably suffering from a viral infection and performed an MRI on Burton Tuesday with results not available until Wednesday (Jayski)

Here's some additional information about Jeff Burton, from Mike Mulhern at JournalNow:

After two days with Duke doctors, Jeff Burton looks much stronger for this weekend's race at Dover, Del., crew chief Buddy Parrott said yesterday.

''He was a real trooper Sunday to get in the car,'' Parrott said. ''We were going to run him as long as we could. But after looking at him, I was saying I was hoping for a 10-lap caution.

''But it went 68 laps, and still he hung in there. And when he got out of the car, he jumped up on top of the tool box and then started worrying the heck out of me. We kept making changes in the car for Todd (Bodine). I don't want to do it again, but it was working for us.

''The update right now: He went to Duke, and like we said before, it looks like an inner-ear infection. Maybe the medication just didn't get to it. He's back at Duke today, and they'll make sure everything is OK.

''We're hoping he's full strength for Dover. Dover is demanding, 400 laps. And we did postpone our Busch effort this week, and we'll run Rockingham instead.

''I feel he'll be in the car all 400 laps. I talked to him last night and he sounds good. He's a lot more optimistic now about things now that he's found out what his problem is. But with all the different people telling him different things about the problem, I know he was anticipating what he might have to do to correct it.

''But now it looks like a little medication, and he'll be ready to go.'' ========== With Burton out of action on Sunday, Ernie Irvan had to carry the day for Ford at Loudon. Irvan may be a lame duck, but he isn't quite through with Robert Yates Racing yet.

''We joked on the plane home, the only two bad laps we ran all week were the two qualifying laps,'' said Irvan, who finished second to Jeff Gordon at Loudon.

Irvan said he could have roughed up Gordon to win, but that's not his style, not any more.

''I don't want to steal from him,'' Irvan said. ''When I won the race at Richmond last year, Ray Evernham said, 'Man, you're lucky it wasn't the Richmond 401.' Jeff had gotten under me, and he had every opportunity to knock me out of the way. But he didn't. You have to earn your respect.''

Irvan's one victory this season came at Michigan in June. He and the Yates team have been erratic.

''We've had a lot of ups and downs during the season,'' Irvan said. ''But we've accomplished a lot. We've proven that Ernie Irvan and all the guys with this team can get the job done.

''We're just not doing it on a consistent basis. We need to be doing it every week. Maybe that's where Robert is trying to change something.

''We were talking on the plane home, asking what Jeff's team is doing that we're not doing. Our motors are just as good as theirs.

''We're just not getting our cars that good every week. We're doing it about one week out of every seven.

''When Larry McReynolds left, everyone figured that would be the downfall of our team. But Marc Reno came on board, and we're getting closer and closer every week, and hopefully we can get another win or two before the end of the season.''

Irvan has watched with more than idle interest how Dale Earnhardt has handled his medical problems.

''I think the critical thing Dale went through was wondering would he be functioning properly again, and he didn't know that until the day after,'' Irvan said. ''His life was suddenly put under some doctors' decisions as to whether he'd be able to continue to race. And that's really hard to deal with. Until the doctor says, 'Yeah, it's OK for you to go back racing.'

''My deal was a little different. I'd make two steps forward and then one step backward. I had to go to California and do the surgery for the aneurysm. And we did that, and then they said 'Wait another three months.' I was basically ready to come back racing, but finally that three months was up, and then they said they had to work on it some more. And they said 'OK, one more month.'

''They don't work you as fast as you'd like 'em to.''

Dover, this week's stop, has been controversial for its concrete. But the surface hasn't bothered Irvan. He almost won there in May.

''We had a great car last time, came from the back to the front and we were leading with 20 to go . . . then somebody blew up and I crashed.

''It's very difficult to race two abreast into the corner and coming off the corner at Dover. But the longer we run, the more rubber it gets. And the second race is usually a little better race.

''I really like the fact it's been shortened to 400 laps. I don't think people really get their money's worth for 500 laps. At 400 laps it's still going to be right at four hours. But we can go four hours hard and not have to pace ourselves.''

It's been two months since Irvan got the news from Yates that he wouldn't be coming back for another season.

''Robert made a decision . . . one he still really hasn't explained well to me,'' Irvan said. ''He just hee-haws about it, and I haven't really gotten a straight answer.

''But I'm not upset with it at all,'' Irvan said. ''People make decisions every day, and you have to live with them. However it was really tough for my whole race team, Marc and Raymond (Fox), to stay focused.

''But we've just said 'Hey, we've got seven or eight races left, and let's show we're not going to be lame ducks.'

''And I won't say anything bad about Kenny Irwin . . . though I know he doesn't have any experience, and they'll have a tough road to keep winning races with a rookie.

''And me, I've got a great future with this new team.''

Irvan will be working next year with a crew chief new to that role in Ryan Pemberton, in his first season on the job this year.

''Ryan is one of those guys who's just starting out, but every crew chief has had to start out somewhere,'' Irvan said. ''And that team is not all just Ryan. Gere Kennon is a guy that Mark Martin said he wanted as his crew chief. And Pete Wright has been with a lot of teams. He's a great chassis guy.

''I know those guys will be 100 percent behind Ernie Irvan. If you have 30 guys, that's only 30 personalities you've got to get in sync. If you have 60 guys, that's twice as many.'' (Mike Mulhern, JournalNow) ========== Robert Pressley will again be in the #77 Jasper Engines Ford for the MBNA 400 at Dover this coming weekend (Jayski) ========== Chris Trickle Update:

Jayski saw a letter to the editor in the most recent Winston Cup Scene and an article in the National Speed Sport News that he needs our assistance. Trickle is still in a coma and has had many surgeries but hopefully no more and there continues to be signs of improvement. While much of the medical bills have been covered by insurance, unfortunately, the insurance will not cover the costs of the extensive rehabilitation that will be necessary. Anyone wishing to contribute please send to: Chris Trickle Medical Fund, Account 0150798189, c/o Citibank, 4065 South Jones, Las Vegas, NV, 89103 or call (702) 364-2061 and ask for Jennifer or David. Periodic updates on Trickles progress are available on the following websites: ==========

Mike Irwin ( NASCAR Fans _______________________________________ NASCAR Fans Website

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Derrike Cope , Ernie Irvan , Todd Bodine , Jerry Nadeau , Robert Pressley , Lance Hooper , Morgan Shepherd , Ray Evernham , Robert Yates , Mark Martin
Teams Yates Racing