ACDelco 400 Friday Notebook By Shawn A. Akers ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (Oct. 30, 1998) Some notes and quotes Friday surrounding Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup ACDelco 400 at North Carolina Speedway: Jeff Gordon isn't concerned about clinching the...
ACDelco 400 Friday Notebook By Shawn A. Akers
ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (Oct. 30, 1998) Some notes and quotes Friday surrounding Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup ACDelco 400 at North Carolina Speedway:
Jeff Gordon isn't concerned about clinching the NASCAR Winston Cup championship this weekend with the season-finale NAPA 500 at Atlanta straight ahead on the schedule. It's highly unlikely that he won't lock it up, however, as he needs to finish only 40th or better in Sunday's AC/Delco 400. Gordon would rather come away from Rockingham with a victory, which would give him 12 on the season, one short of Richard Petty's modern-day record of 13.
"We want to go there (Rockingham) and run strong and have a shot at winning at the end," said Gordon, who has three career victories at North Carolina Speedway. "Clinching the championship before Atlanta isn't a priority of ours. We just want to win that third championship, and it doesn't really matter where it happens.
"If we can run well and get a good finish at Rockingham, it can happen there. However, it's not over until it's over, and as we've seen many times in the past, anything can happen."
Gordon hasn't finished lower than 40th this season. His average finish is 6.0, and he has 24 top-five and 26 top-10 finishes in 1998.
The pit crews of the NASCAR Winston Cup teams will get a chance to shine on Saturday morning. The Tosco 76 Rockingham Pit Crew Comp etition will be held Saturday at 11 a.m.
The No. 94 McDonald's Ford team, with driver Bill Elliott, is the defending champion of the event.
Jeff Burton is looking for bigger and better things at North Carolina Speedway than he's experienced in the past. In his NASCAR Winston Cup career at the 1.017-mile oval, Burton has averaged a 22nd-place starting position and an average finish of 15th.
The driver of the No. 99 Exide Batteries Ford finished 18th in the spring race at Rockingham, and last year, he finished 32nd in the AC/Delco 400.
"We've had a good run of races over the last couple of months and I'd like to finish strong going into 1999," Burton said. "Last year we struggled at the end, but I think we've got a chance for a couple of strong runs to finish out the year."
Johnny Benson hopes last week's ninth-place finish in the Dura-Lube 500 at Phoenix is an omen for this weekend, with the race tracks being similar. Benson has only two top-10 finishes in has last 10 races.
The team took the same car it used in Phoenix to Rockingham. Benson finished 30th at Rockingham in the spring in the GM Goodwrench 400. "We had a tough finish in the spring at Rockingham," Benson said. "After last weekend at Phoenix, we have a great feeling about this coming weekend. Before Phoenix, we had planned to bring a different car, but after the Dura-Lube 500 last Sunday, we knew we had to bring that car again. Who knows, maybe it will bring us the win we have been looking for."
Darrell Waltrip has made a whopping 51 NASCAR Winston Cup starts at North Carolina Speedway during his illustrious career. He has earned four victories there, most recently on Oct. 20, 1985. He is only one five drivers to have performed a season sweep at "The Rock," having done so in 1981.
Waltrip has kept his No. 35 Tabasco Pontiac on the track recently. He has had only five DNFs this year, four of which occurred in the season's first six races, including the GM Goodwrench 400 at Rockingham in February. He has had only one DNF in his last 23 races.
Kyle Petty's "Race to End Hunger" continues during the events of the AC/Delco 400 weekend at North Carolina Speedway this weekend. Petty has teamed up with the Food Bank of North Carolina in Raleigh, N.C., for the final effort of the 1998 NASCAR Winston Cup season in an effort to help feed needy families.
The food drive also took place at both NASCAR Winston Cup races at Charlotte Motor Speedway earlier this year.
Fans can participate in the effort by taking four nonperishable food items, or $4 to either of Kyle Petty's souvenir trailers, which will be parked at North Carolina S North Carolina Speedways is showing off some of its many improvements this weekend. The race track is sporting a new 58-row, 28,021-seat galvnanized steel aluminum high-rise grandstand, located on the backstretch.
Additional restrooms, souvenir stands, concession stands and first aid stations have been implemented in the new grandstand as well. In addition, a new 17-acre campground located off Highway 177 behind the new grandstand was open. The area is filled with pine trees and thick grass for race fans with motorhomes, campers and tents.
Prior to Sunday's ACDelco 400, the National Anthem will be sung by Decca Records recording start Lee Ann Womack. Womack's most recent album, "Some Things I Know," features back-up singing by Vince Gill, Joe Diffie, Ricky Skaggs and Sharon White.
Source: NASCAR Online