Reflections with Junie Donlavey

by Thomas Chemris Fifty-one years as a NASCAR team owner, Junie Donlavey is a living historian of the sport. At 77 years young, the Virginia Native is the current owner of the ...

by Thomas Chemris

Fifty-one years as a NASCAR team owner, Junie Donlavey is a living historian of the sport.

At 77 years young, the Virginia Native is the current owner of the # 90 Hills Brothers Ford, driven by Hut Stricklin.

The team has struggled this year, qualifying for six of ten races.

The seasoned veteran takes all this in stride as he comments on the current method of qualifying for the Winston Cup series.

"When they finish Qualifying, either you're in, or you're out. You can stand around and talk about it all you want about what should have been done... It just doesn't mean anything because the game is over".

The current NASCAR Rules allow for qualifying to be approached as a separate event.


Junie Donlavey. Photo: Thomas Chemris

In years gone by, teams qualified with race equipment.

"I'm all for not letting them use qualifying engines. Bring the best that you have to qualify with and race. That's just the way we used to do it, and it just costs a lot of money to come prepared for two laps of qualifying. I like the way they are doing it, qualifying them all in one day"

2001 marked changes in the qualifying process. Previous positions one through twenty five were locked in on first day qualifying, and the rest of the field had the option of standing on day one speed, re-qualifying, or relying on owners points, or past champions provisional.

Provisional are the right to reserve the last seven starting positions in a race for teams who fail to make the race on speed. They are distributed and used based on current driver point standings, and owners point standings, with one spot reserved for a past champion if needed.

"I just wish that they would qualify forty three cars and if you're not in that group, load up and go home".

Back in the day when NASCAR was not a sure sell out for the track owners, provisional guaranteed that the most popular drivers would make the show.

"The problem is today you don't have the superstars, Earnhardt was the last basic superstar that you had. The rest of them are all very good drivers, there first class competitors, but you cant take one over the other."

Donlavey probably knows drivers better than anyone in the business, in his fifty-one years as an owner; he has had over 50 drivers in his employ. Names such as Weatherly, Lund, Pearson, Gant, Parsons, and Irvan all have taken the wheel of his cars.

His Current driver, Hut Stricklin just completed his best run of the year, finishing twelfth at California. A recent switch to Yates Power plants and the addition of Felipe Lopez as a consultant has put the team in form.

A form the team is anxious to demonstrate in front of his home state as the series heads into Richmond Va. for the feature event on Saturday May 5th.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Hut Stricklin