Rockingham Qualifying Story

GM Goodwrench Service 400 Notebook By NASCAR Online Staff ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (Feb. 19, 1998) Ken Schrader isn't Superman. But, after his courageous performance in last Sunday's Daytona 500, don't tell his crew that he's not the "Man...

GM Goodwrench Service 400 Notebook By NASCAR Online Staff

ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (Feb. 19, 1998) Ken Schrader isn't Superman. But, after his courageous performance in last Sunday's Daytona 500, don't tell his crew that he's not the "Man of Steel."

Schrader is recuperating from a cracked sternum he sustained while competing in the Gatorade 125-Mile Qualifying Races (first event) at Daytona International Speedway. The entire Skoal Bandit Racing team was so impressed with his Daytona 500 effort that they had Superman t-shirts made and replaced the "S" in the emblem with a "K."

"I feel like I played in the Super Bowl rather than raced in the Daytona 500," said the injured Schrader after his fourth-place finish. "I was pretty sore before the race, but knew I could put up with pain for 3 1/2 hours for my chance at over $2 million. Although I didn't win the No Bull bonus program, the No. 33 is in contention for the No Bull bonus again."

Schrader wore a flak jacket during the race and will wear it at Rockingham this weekend for the GM Goodwrench Service Plus 400. It was designed by Copenhagen Bull Rider Mark Cain; he modified the bull rider vest for a racing application.

Racing at Rockingham brings back memories of Todd Bodine's nail-biting win in the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division on October 21, 1995. Bodine was running the first of three races in the No. 72 Detroit Gasket car while also competing full-time in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series.

The race literally came down to the last lap as Bodine was running three wide with competitors Mike Wallace and Larry Pearson when approaching the start/finish line. Bodine emerged the victor on that memorable day at "The Rock," but only by six inches.

Bodine, who pilots the No. 35 Team Tabasco Pontiac on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, said he is excited to be headed back to Rockingham. Bodine is looking forward to the North Carolina trip not only because he has a win there, but also because he enjoys the challenge of running on the 1.017-mile oval.

"There isn't a track on the Winston Cup circuit that I dislike, but it is always a lot of fun to run on the shorter tracks where there is a lot of passing and tight competition," Bodine said. "And it is such a big difference from the 10 days we spent at Daytona, where the draft is the key. At Rockingham, drivers really have to be on their game."

Bodine has made six previous NASCAR Winston Cup Series starts at "The Rock."

The No. 29 Diamond Ridge Motorsports Chevrolet that Jeff Green will pilot this weekend is the same car in which he logged the fastest lap time during second-round qualifying at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in August and utilized at North Carolina Motor Speedway in the fall. "This is a good car," said Green. "Our 21st-place finish at Rockingham in the fall does not show the strength of the car. We made a scheduled green flag pit stop and got caught in the pits when the caution came out."

Green feels comfortable racing at North Carolina Motor Speedway because of his experience at the track and the similarities to Nashville Speedway. Green was the 1990 Late Model Stock car track champion at the Tennessee track, winning 16 out of 20 races that year.

"Other than Bristol, I have run more laps (1501 laps completed of a possible 1952) at Rockingham than any other track we race on the circuit," Green said. "The track banking and configuration remind me a lot of what I consider to be my home track, Nashville Speedway."

Chipper Jones, Atlanta Braves all-star third baseman, was a guest in defending Daytona 500 winner Jeff Gordon's pit at last weekend's "Great American Race." Jones' home is in nearby Pierson, about a 30-minute drive northwest of Daytona International Speedway.

Morgan Shepherd wasn't needed by tough guy Ken Schrader as a relief driver in the Daytona 500, but the Conover, N.C., veteran was glad-handing everyone he could find in the Daytona International Speedway garage area as he continues to attempt to launch his own NASCAR Winston Cup team.

Shepherd said he would be at Rockingham for Sunday's race in a No. 05 Pontiac owned by wife Cindy.

"We'll be there on a shoestring, but we'll be there," Shepherd said. "The car's all set to go -- we're just waiting on the engine."

Sara Lee Corporation, through a group of its companies, is entering NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing as a sponsor for the No. 30 Bahari Racing Pontiac, with driver Derrike Cope.

Seven Sara Lee brands: Bryan, Jimmy Dean, Tastefuls!, Lunch 'n Munch, State Fair, Sweet Sue, Rudy's Farm and King Cotton, have joined forces to become associate sponsors on the Mooresville, N.C.-based entry. The No. 30 Pontiac's primary sponsor is Gumout.

For the fourth consecutive year, proceeds from the sale of used NASCAR Winston Cup Series tires will assist a pair of NASCAR-related charities.

Winston Cup Souvenirs of Mooresville, Inc., will again donate funds to the National Motorsports Press Association which, in turn, will use the money to help fund the NMPA Stock Car Hall of Fame at Darlington Raceway, the Joe Whitlock Memorial Scholarship at the University of South Carolina and other charitable projects.

Among the items available from WCSOM are used Goodyear Eagle racing tires from some 30 NASCAR Winston Cup teams, race tire dart boards and race tire mirrors. For information on Goodyear race tire souvenirs call (704) 662-6464.

The Pontiac Grand Prix GTP coupe that paced the Daytona 500 will be made available, in limited numbers, at selected Pontiac dealerships around the country. The bright blue pace car has a 3.8-liter 3800 Supercharged Series II fuel-injected V6 engine and a four-speed electronically-controlled automatic transmission.

Accentuating the car's "sporty" look are special 18-inch aluminum five-spoke wheels complete with Goodyear F1 tires. A restricted run of 1,500 of the 40th annual Daytona 500 replica pace cars will be produced.

TIDBITS

Kyle Petty is the all-time leading money winner at the North Carolina Motor Speedway. But he doesn't not rank in the top 10 in money winnings at any other current series track.

He is also tied with David Pearson and Cale Yarborough with the most pole positions at Rockingham with five.

By virtue of his 17th-place finish in last Sunday's Daytona 500, Lake Speed earned $96,705. That put him over the $5 million mark in career earnings.

Dale Earnhardt became the first driver in NASCAR Winston Cup Series history to win more than $1 million for a single event. He pocketed $1,059,105 for his win in Sunday's Daytona 500. A total of 28 drivers left Daytona having won at least $100,000 during Speedweeks.

Now, Earnhardt will try to become the second straight driver to open the season with wins in the Daytona 500 and GM Goodwrench Service Plus 400. Jeff Gordon turned the trick last year. David Pearson is the only other driver to win the first two races of the season. He did it in 1976.

None of the top four drivers in the 1997 NASCAR Winston Cup Series points standings recorded a top-10 finish in Sunday's Daytona 500. Series champion Jeff Gordon finished 16th, last year's runner-up Dale Jarrett was 34th, Mark Martin finished 38th and Jeff Burton was 40th.

Rusty Wallace's fifth-place finish in the Daytona 500 was his best career finish in a points race at Daytona.

The Miller Lite Ford driver is also the active leader in wins at Rockingham with five, but his last win there came in 1994.

In seven of the past nine NASCAR Winston Cup races, all three makes of cars (Ford, Pontiac and Chevrolet) have been represented in the top three finishing positions.

Ward Burton recorded his only career victory at Rockingham by taking the checkered flag in the 1995 ACDelco 400 in 1995. That was also the first race at Rockingham which was shortened from 500 miles to 400.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Ward Burton , Derrike Cope , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Rusty Wallace , Todd Bodine , Kyle Petty , Ken Schrader , Jeff Green , Mike Wallace , Morgan Shepherd , Cale Yarborough , Mark Martin , David Pearson