RICMOND, Va. (May 4, 2000) - This weekend's Pontiac Excitement 400 at Richmond International Raceway will serve as a milestone for Winston Cup driver Chad Little. When Little takes the green flag on Saturday night it will be the 200th time in his...
RICMOND, Va. (May 4, 2000) - This weekend's Pontiac Excitement 400 at Richmond International Raceway will serve as a milestone for Winston Cup driver Chad Little. When Little takes the green flag on Saturday night it will be the 200th time in his Winston Cup career that he will have done so.
A driving career that began in 1981 on the American Speed Association (ASA) West late model series, Little was quick to rise through the ranks. Little pulled double-duty early in his career, driving on the NASCAR Northwest Tour while obtaining his undergraduate degree from Washington State University in 1985. Upon his completion of a marketing degree, Little shifted his focus to the Winston West Series, where he captured Rookie of the Year honors in 1986 and the series championship in 1987. It was also over this two-year period that Little got his first taste of Winston Cup competition. Twice a year the Winston Cup circuit made its way out West to compete at the now inactive Riverside (Calif.) International Raceway.
"It's been a long time since I made my first start," recalls Little. "Back when I raced at Riverside it was on the Winston West Series, and there were four spots open in the Cup race for the Winston West regulars. That's how I made my first four Winston Cup races. It wasn't until 1988, after I received my law degree, that I even considered making a full-time commitment to racing. I had an agreement with my parents that I would get my law degree, and in return they would help support my racing career. At that point in time, I had no other options to continue racing. I was young and had no income flow, so their offer was the best around. Looking back on it, I'm glad to have my law degree so that I have something to fall back on, but I lost a couple years of racing experience that some of my peers have on me."
Little dedicated himself for four years, honing his skills at the Busch Series level before again joining the Winston Cup ranks in 1997 with John Deere as his sponsor. The two have been together since, but they joined forces with Roush Racing in late 1997, and Little finished the 1998 season 15th in the Winston Cup points. Now in their third full year of association, Little hopes to the see the relationship between all three parties translate into the first Winston Cup victory for John Deere and the No. 97 team.
"The John Deere team had a breakout year in 1998, our first year with Roush, but we had a bit of a sophomore slump last year," Little said. "We made some changes in the off-season and we're seeing them start to pay off right now. Hopefully we won't go too far past 200 starts to get that first win. I'm in a stable environment right now, and we've got all the pieces, we just need to finish putting the puzzle together. The next stretch of races will be important to solidify our spot in the top 15, and as we continue to build consistency I really believe the final results will start to improve. The guys in our new shop in Concord (N.C.) are building some great cars, and the pit stops have improved from last year. That makes racing on a weekly basis fun, knowing that each time you go to a track you have a chance to walk away with the victory."
Little currently occupies the 15th position in the Winston Cup point standings, 96 points out of the top 10. Little returns to Richmond for his 15th Winston Cup start where he had a pair of top-15 finishes in 1998.