RICHMOND, Va. (Sept. 12, 1998) Notes and quotes following Saturday night's NASCAR Winston Cup Series Exide NASCAR Select Batteries 400 at Richmond International Raceway: Robert Pressley, driver of the No. 77 Jasper Engines Ford, was taken...
RICHMOND, Va. (Sept. 12, 1998) Notes and quotes following Saturday night's NASCAR Winston Cup Series Exide NASCAR Select Batteries 400 at Richmond International Raceway:
Robert Pressley, driver of the No. 77 Jasper Engines Ford, was taken to the local Memorial Regional Medical Center for x-rays following the lap 36 crash involving his car and those of Dale Earnhardt and Joe Nemechek. Pressley was released to the care of his own physician in Asheville, N.C., after x-rays revealed a broken right scapula (shoulder blade). He also had bruising to his right shoulder. With news of the fracture Pressley's status for the NASCAR Winston Cup Series and NASCAR Busch Series races next weekend at the high-stress Dover Downs International Speedway may be in question.
Bobby Labonte saw a sure top-five finish disappear when he made contact with another car in a snarling pack of top-10 hopefuls while he was running fourth in the Interstate Batteries Pontiac. The contact sent him backwards into the wall and he dragged the car, with the rear bumper even with the back window, into the garage area to a 35th-place finish. "Somebody was trying to go a little faster than I was," Labonte said, acting like the culprit was no secret. "When the rearview mirror came flying at me I thought I hit pretty hard. That's part of Saturday-night racing. We were in the top-five and we got crashed there at the end, but it was a great battle."
Kyle Petty had -- thankfully for him -- a once-in-his-career experience when the throttle on his Hot Wheels Pontiac hung wide open going into Turn 1 on a restart at lap 215. Petty was uninjured but his night was through and he ended up 39th. "I've been running forever and I've been fortunate to never have this happen," Petty said later. "I had the presence of mind to reach up and cut it off and that's the only thing that saved me. It still hit a ton, but not as hard as it could have.. "I saw Burton on the outside, Gordon on the outside and I said 'This is good, I'm going to wipe out everybody.' It tore the wall down, but we're all right." Miraculously, the packed field -- including the two leaders, who were closest to Petty at the time -- escaped that incident unscathed.
Terry Labonte finished 21st and fell to 11th, unofficially, in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series point standings. The drop marked the first time since he finished 12th in the season-opening Daytona 500 that he's been out of the top-10 in points. The consistent "Iron Man" stayed in the top-10 the entire 1997 season, and in 1996 he was the series champion.
Rusty Wallace had a very strong car early but he could only manage a seventh-place finish. Wallace's short-track skills have brought him finishes of seventh or better in 19 of the last 20 races at Richmond. Wallace is the only driver to lead at least one lap in all five short-track races held so far this year, but his winless streak now stands at 54 races. His last victory came at Richmond in March 1997. "I had a lot better car than seventh, I tell you that," Wallace said. "I just didn't have the positive grip I needed and I lost two right front tires. I cut one down and chunked one out and that got me back in the pack and out of sequence on tires. We should have at least finished third."
Dick Trickle replaced Todd Bodine, who took ill midway through the race and brought out the race's fourth caution when he crashed on the backstretch at lap 207. Trickle was himself an accident victim early in the race in the continuation of a problem that's plagued his Heilig-Meyers Ford lately. "I've wrecked three times in the past month and a half," Trickle said. "Something is happening that my back brakes are locking up and I get loose. We went to a new pad and maybe that's our problem."
Bobby Hamilton had an interesting night due to a radio problem that caused him to not be able to hear his crew under race cautions. Consequently, they had NASCAR officials black flag Hamilton on two occasions -- once when he was in the lead -- to call him to the pits.
Ricky Rudd was wished a happy 42nd birthday in pre-race by the Richmond crowd of 103,000, but he didn't enjoy much of his celebratory race. The brakes went out on the Tide Ford from the outset of the race and Rudd spent some time behind pit wall fixing the problem. He eventually finished 34th.
Dennis Setzer had a similar morning to Jimmy Spencer as he crashed just before the end of the morning's first practice in Turn 2. The FIRSTPLUS Financial team unloaded its backup car and Setzer drove it to 29th spot.
Wallace wants to break his 54-race winless streak...badly. "It's hard to win these days," Wallace said, shaking his head. "I keep answering that question week after week, but I can't tell you. We've led so many laps and had a bunch of second-place finishes and a bunch of poles, but I would gladly trade three or four of those poles in for three or four wins. That would be for sure, but I'm sure we'll win our share before the year's over because we're just running too strong not to, really."
Richard Childress Racing, the NASCAR Winston Cup Series team that fields Chevrolets for Earnhardt and Mike Skinner, has a new associate sponsor. Invinca-Shield, a unique protection film, has become an associate sponsor on the No. 31 Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse Chevrolet driven by Skinner. Invinca-Shield, based in Elkin, N.C., is an invisible protection film that protects any type of vehicle from flying insects, stone chips, road salt and ash. Source: NASCAR Online