Phoenix Post Race Notes

Dura Lube/Kmart 500 Notebook By Dave Rodman PHOENIX (Oct. 25, 1998) Notes and quotes following Sunday's Dura Lube/Kmart 500 at Phoenix International Raceway: Dale Jarrett was suffering severe flu-like symptoms before the ...

Dura Lube/Kmart 500 Notebook By Dave Rodman

PHOENIX (Oct. 25, 1998) Notes and quotes following Sunday's Dura Lube/Kmart 500 at Phoenix International Raceway:

Dale Jarrett was suffering severe flu-like symptoms before the Dura Lube/Kmart 500 so he had Michael Waltrip -- who failed to qualify for the race in the Wood Brothers' Citgo Ford -- standing by. On a green flag pit stop on lap 130, Jarrett stopped and Waltrip got into the car.

Although Jarrett walked to the medical cart that had come to his pits on his own, he was later helicoptered to St. Joseph's Hospital in downtown Phoenix for evaluation of abdominal pain and dehydration.

After examination, Jarrett was admitted to St. Joseph's in fair condition with "gallstones and gall bladder problems."

Waltrip finished 32nd, four laps down to winner Rusty Wallace.

"This is nice, it was fun," said Waltrip, who, at 6-5, is the tallest driver on the circuit. "I wasn't too comfortable as far as how I fit in there. I was kind of wedged in."

Prior to the race, Bill Elliott downplayed talk of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series team he owns with NFL quarterback Dan Marino being for sale.

"There's nothing right now," said Elliott, whose vile season continued when he finished 38th Sunday in his own McDonald's Ford. "It's not for sale, but if somebody comes along with the right deal I might sell it, but there again, those are part of the rumors and stuff that you hear. Right now, I'm just concentrating on racing, trying to get these last three races under my belt and see what happens from there."

Track officials at PIR revealed on Sunday that an Arizona Public Service power cable, running pole-to-pole across the Gila River, broke Saturday to cause a power outage and a 48-minute delay in the start of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series GM Goodwrench Service Plus/ACDelco 300.

"We were all scrambling different directions dragging generators into place," said Jeff Neely, PIR facilities coordinator.

Those generators powered the UNOCAL pumps, timing and scoring, the race control tower, the track medical center and the well.

"The air conditioning guys, the gas pump guys, the guys at the well and about six of our regular guys, they all pitched in and helped," Neely said. "Everything went on. We just had a little delay. We had power back earlier but we were committed to the generators to finish the day."

After track action was complete, the transfer was made back to "regular" power, and the weekend was completed Sunday without further power problems.

Terry Labonte was satisfied to get a top-10 finish under his belt with a 10th-place run in the Kellogg's Chevrolet. Immediately after the race he was looking ahead to an elk hunting trip with Dale Earnhardt.

"Earnhardt and I are going elk hunting in New Mexico now -- hope it's not raining too hard in the mountains," Labonte said. "I always keep him (Earnhardt) in my sights pretty good. I stand right next to him. He's a mule on a hunting trip. We're going up in the mountains, and the elevation is about 8,000 feet. My legs are too short. We take off walking and he can flat get up and down those mountains. I was impressed with him last year.

"I thought I was in pretty good shape, but he was in awful good shape. It was a lot of fun. He takes that hunting almost as serious as he does racing. It's really a neat place to go to. Earnhardt and I and our pilots are going, and we've got two guides."

Labonte felt like the rain-shortened race gave him enough hope for possibly visiting Victory Lane himself before the year is over.

"We'd love to win a race before the year is over, and end the season on a high note," Labonte said. "It's not going to make or break us, but I think it would be awful nice to end it on a high note and gain a little momentum going into next season. I think we've got a great team, and I think we've got some plans to strengthen our team. We're going to add some people that are going to make our team a little bit stronger in areas we need it.

"We're excited about next year, but we also want to get through the rest of this year as good as we can. We usually run pretty good at the last two tracks, but just one little problem and that could knock us out of the top-10 (in points). We're pretty close to eighth and we're pretty close to 10th also (49 points behind Dale Earnhardt and 63 points clear of John Andretti).

"We've just got to go out and run our race the same way we have been. We're going to try to do the best we can. We'd love to move up in the points as high as we can. When you're back there seventh, eighth or ninth, it doesn't really matter. I like our chances at Atlanta. We've run good there the past two times. Rockingham has been a pretty good track for us also. It's a pretty tough track, but we've usually done pretty well there. I think we've got a good chance to stay in the top-10 in the points, but we can't make any mistakes."

Labonte made his 600th consecutive NASCAR Winston Cup Series start Sunday, but it was not the only streak he extended. Labonte, winner of this year's Pontiac Excitement 400 at Richmond, Va., has started all 10 previous races at Phoenix and is currently at the head of the list of track lap leaders, completing 3,372 of the 3,377 circuits staged on the super-quick one-mile oval.

The Corpus Christi, Texas native, whose brother Bobby drove to this year's Daytona 500 pole, won the 1994 race at Phoenix, beating runner-up Mark Martin by three seconds.

Immediately after the pre-race drivers' meeting on Sunday at Phoenix, Ford drivers Elliott and Martin -- who have not been big fans of restrictor-plate racing this season -- approached Race Director David Hoots and told him they had the answer to green-white-checker finishes on the superspeedways.

"We're going to stop and change places with you and Gary (Nelson, NASCAR Winston Cup director) in the tower," Elliott said, his wide grin the equal of Martin's.

Hoots and Nelson, grinning in kind, said they'd take the suggestion under advisement.

Gary Grossenbacher, crew chief for Jeff Green's The Money Store Chevrolet, was back in his old "stomping grounds" this weekend at PIR. Grossenbacher, a 1983 graduate of Arizona State University, obtained a degree in mechanical engineering, which was followed by the start of his professional racing career.

The former Sun Devil joined Team SABCO at the beginning of the 1998 season after running his own company and working for a myriad of racing organizations.

Following his time at ASU, he put his engineering background to work for Bob Tullius' Group 44, Al Holbert Racing, Porsche Motorsports, Truesports and Rahal/Hogan Racing, achieving success with each organization. In 1993, Grossenbacher started his own company, Motorsports Research and Design.

His past successes helped him secure contract work for the research and development of the 1995 Chevrolet Monte Carlo in NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing.

Ward Burton crossed a personal milestone in the course of running the Dura Lube/Kmart 500. The native of South Boston, Va., celebrated his 37th birthday on Sunday.

The field had more than a sprinkle of past Skoal Bandit Racing Copper World Classic champions in its midst.

Bud Pole winner Ken Schrader has five Copper World victories -- in 1989 and 1990 in the USAC Silver Crown ranks and in 1981, 1982 and 1984 in the USAC midgets. Jeff Gordon won the Copper World Silver Crown event in 1991. Mike Bliss won the Copper World Silver Crown events in 1993, 1995 and 1996. Kenny Irwin won the Copper World Silver Crown event in 1994.

So, the winners of seven of the 10 Copper World Silver Crown races to date were in the Dura Lube/Kmart 500 field. Only Jim Keeker (1992), Jimmy Kite (1997) and Tony Stewart (1998) were absent.

Irwin's taken some lumps in his Raybestos Rookie of the Year season on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, like his 40th-place finish from a second-place start at Phoenix. He's still upbeat for the rest of this season and next year.

"My goals and expectations aren't any different that what they are this year," Irwin said of 1999. "I want to win races. I want to run up front every week. Realistically, that's no different than every guy in that garage area. Everybody has the same goals and what they want to try to achieve."

Irwin had a forecast for 1999 rookie candidates such as Tony Stewart, Elliott Sadler and Buckshot Jones.

"I think guys like Tony (Stewart) and the guys that are gonna come up from the Busch Series next year, they know more of what to expect than what I did," Irwin said. "It's not like I had no idea, but when you get to travel with the Cup guys as much as the Busch guys do, they know what the routine is every week. They know what happens. I show up and I'm looking to see how to get onto the race track or to figure out where the garages are and stuff like that. You may not think that's a lot, but it's just something less they have to think about when they get here Friday morning and come to the race track."

Valvoline announced the giveaway of an actual Ford race car driven by Martin in 10 races Sunday morning in the PIR media center as part of a nationwide sweepstakes. Martin took the car to Victory Lane at Dover in 1997 and finished in the top-five in five of the 10 races he used it in.

It was the second time Valvoline had given away an actual race car to a member of the general public.

"I'm pretty excited about the car and the promotion," Martin said. "I'm proud of Valvoline and how they build the sport and how they involve and reward the fans. There's nothing neater than to think a real race car is going to a real race fan."

The winner was Scott Davis, 34, of Texas. His son, Spencer Davis, saw a Synpower Hot Wheels car on a bottle of Synpower and asked his dad to buy the product to get the Hot Wheels car. Scott entered the sweepstakes and was the chosen winner.

"I didn't believe it was really true until I got here today," Davis said. "I couldn't believe I won the car until I saw it rolled out of the trailer this morning. I thank Valvoline and Mr. Martin for taking the time to do this. I'm not giving the car back but I truly thank them for everything. It will be stored at my house in Texas."

Fischer Engineering, an engine building company located in Mooresville, N.C., announced at Phoenix the reunion of Dennis Fischer and John Wilson after an 11-year hiatus. Fischer's and Wilson's relationship began in 1984 when Wilson joined the Fischer team at its former location in Sun Valley, Calif. During that time, Fischer Engineering had enjoyed multiple successes in the SCCA Trans-Am, IMSA GTO, NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division and NASCAR Winston Cup Series.

In 1987 Wilson made the move to North Carolina and full time NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing.

Since then Wilson worked at Hendrick Motorsports (1987-1988), as head engine builder at Team SABCO (1988-1995) and head engine builder at Joe Gibbs Racing, overseeing the development of their new engine facility and NASCAR Winston Cup Series program.

Earnhardt was among a heavy-hitting trio who announced the formation of "Team Gargoyles" this weekend at Phoenix. Among the NASCAR drivers who will endorse the eyewear are Earnhardt, a seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion; his son Dale Earnhardt Jr., currently the NASCAR Busch Series point leader; Ron Hornaday, the 1996 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion who leads the series' standings with one race remaining in Dale Earnhardt Inc.'s truck; and Steve Park, the 1997 NASCAR Busch Series Raybestos Rookie of the Year and a current NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver.

Source: NASCAR Online

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , John Andretti , Ward Burton , Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Terry Labonte , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Michael Waltrip , Steve Park , Ken Schrader , Jeff Green , Buckshot Jones , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Al Holbert , Mike Bliss , Elliott Sadler , Bob Tullius , Mark Martin
Teams Hendrick Motorsports