Dura Lube/Big Kmart 400 Friday Notebook By Shawn A. Akers ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (Feb. 19, 1999) Some notes and quotes Friday surrounding Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series Dura-Lube/Big Kmart 400 at North Carolina Speedway: Dale Jarrett is one...
Dura Lube/Big Kmart 400 Friday Notebook By Shawn A. Akers
ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (Feb. 19, 1999) Some notes and quotes Friday surrounding Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series Dura-Lube/Big Kmart 400 at North Carolina Speedway:
Dale Jarrett is one to hold a grudge, and he certainly isn't going to have one against his Robert Yates Racing teammate, Kenny Irwin.
During last Sunday's Daytona 500, Jarrett was apparently spun out by Irwin during the middle stages of the race, and it caused a major accident that knocked several cars out of contention. Television replays, however, have proven inconclusive, and Jarrett said there is no ill feelings between the two.
"The worst thing about the whole situation last week is Kenny is not going to enjoy his best run as a Winston Cup driver," Jarrett said of Irwin, who finished third in the Daytona 500. "He did a tremendous job and put himself in a position to win the Daytona 500, and people aren't letting him enjoy that.
"He's having to answer questions about whether or not he hit his teammate. We did touch, yes, that did happen, but it was racing and it's as much my fault as anybody's. I put myself in a position for something like to happen, so everything is fine between Kenny and I. He called me Monday to see if I was alright and to talk about it , and I was fine with everything. I didn't blame him. The two worst things that happened is Kenny hasn't been able to enjoy that and it took out 10 or 11 other race cars that were trying to win just like we were."
Don't refer to Gary DeHart as the crew chief of the No. 4 Kodak Chevrolet. It's just not something that DeHart is comfortable with. He prefers the term "Team Coordinator."
DeHart, the crew chief for Terry Labonte during Labonte's NASCAR Winston Cup championship season in 1996, was moved into the "Team Coordinator" position for the No. 4 Kodak Chevrolet team of Morgan-McClure Motorsports earlier this week when Charley Pressley was relieved of his duties. The move is temporary, until the team can find a permanent replacement for Pressley.
"What we're doing right now is trying to find someone who will come in and be crew chief, either from the outside or recruit from within," DeHart said.
"Larry (McClure, team owner) asked me to help them do that. I have a shop in Denver, N.C., where I do all of Morgan-McClure's work. They're my best customer. When Larry asked if I could help them, I couldn't say no. I could have, but I didn't. They're good people."
DeHart is doing chassis work out of his North Carolina shop for the Morgan-McClure team.
Due to the rainout of Bud Pole Qualifying, NASCAR Winston Cup teams will have two more practice sessions prior to Sunday's Dura-Lube/Kmart 400. The teams will have 45 minutes of practice beginning at 9 a.m. on Saturday, and then "Happy Hour" practice following the NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division ALLTEL 200.
Bud Pole Qualifying will be held beginning at 10:45 p.m. Positions 1 through 36 will be determined with one lap around the 1.017-mile oval.
The cooler weather in the Rockingham area this weekend isn't exactly upsetting a lot of the NASCAR Winston Cup drivers. As a matter of fact, they're embracing it.
"It makes the race track a little better," Jarrett said. "Obviously this track is worn quite a bit, so the cooler it is the better it'll be in that respect. It shouldn't wear the tires quite as bad, so it should be better racing. You'll have to work with the setup a little bit because it should be a tighter race track so that will allow you to run the car a little looser."
"It will be nice in the cars, but that kind of throws out our test a little bit," said John Andretti, driver of the No. 43 STP Pontiac. "We'll have to look at it and try to work around some of the things that we learned. It doesn't kill everything we learned, but it really doesn't help."
So what does Andretti do on a rainy day at the race track, like Friday at North Carolina Speedway?
"Hang out with reporters and be the only driver around so they can talk to somebody (laughing)," Andretti said. "We've actually been goingended in practice. We've made a couple of changes and are going to talk sabout it some more and probably over-engineer the car now (laughing)."
Kyle Petty has traditionally run well at nNorth Carolina Speedway. He's posted 12 top-10 finishes in the 37 races that h e has run there, including five consecutive Bud Pole positions in the early 1990s.
Petty scored three of his eight NASCAR Winston Cup victories at "The Rock." He topped the $1 million mark in career earnings at North Carolina Speedway following the fall race in 1998.
Petty is coming off a seventh-place finish last weekend at Daytona. "I hope that we can carry the momentum of our finish in Daytona to Rockingham," Petty said. "I can't think of a better place to continue our rejuvenation of Petty Enterprises than that track."
Source: NASCAR Online