Rockingham Saturday Notes

GM Goodwrench Service Plus 400 Saturday notes NASCAR Online Staff ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (Feb. 21, 1998) Some notes and quotes from the NASCAR Winston Cup Series heading into Sunday's GM Goodwrench Service Plus 400: Rick Mast doesn't want to...

GM Goodwrench Service Plus 400 Saturday notes

NASCAR Online Staff

ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (Feb. 21, 1998) Some notes and quotes from the NASCAR Winston Cup Series heading into Sunday's GM Goodwrench Service Plus 400:

Rick Mast doesn't want to get too cocky heading into Sunday's race. Winning the Bud Pole is one thing, but he says he and the No. 75 Remington Arms Ford team still have to go out and execute on race day. "We're sitting on the pole and that's neat and fine, but we don't want to get ourselves screwed up here thinking we're good enough to win the race when you've got a 30th-place car and can work on it to make it at least a 15th-place car," said Mast, who became the first Taurus driver to win a NASCAR Winston Cup Series Bud Pole on Friday.

"That's what we're kind of in the middle of right now. Our goal as a team right now is when the Atlanta race is over (two weeks from Sunday), to be in the top 25 in points. Trying not to look past each race, but also looking at each race."

Winning the pole hasn't been all that lucky for Mast in the past. In 1992 at Atlanta, Mast was the Bud Polesitter for Richard Petty's final NASCAR Winston Cup Series race, and he wrecked on the second lap. Mast was the Bud Polesitter for the inaugural Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis in 1994, but lost a cylinder on the second lap

In 1995 at Dover, Mast won the Bud Pole for a race, but when the green flag dropped, he lost his brakes in the first turn.

"I'm hoping this pole will be uneventful," Mast said.

Times are tough already for the No. 35 Tabasco Pontiac team. The team and driver Todd Bodine failed to make the show for the second consecutive week and have yet to run a lap in NASCAR Winston Cup Series competition this season.

Bodine wound up 38th overall after second-round qualifying, but because his is a new team, he didn't make it into the 43-car field for Sunday's GM Goodwrench Service Plus 400.

Also failing to qualify for Sunday's race were: Wally Dallenbach, Dave Marcis, Gary Bradberry and Morgan Shepherd.

Dale Earnhardt stood on his time from Friday and was awarded one of the seven provisionals. He'll start 37th in Sunday's race.

The other provisionals were awarded to Bobby Labonte, Greg Sacks, Ernie Irvan, Lake Speed, Chad Little and Darrell Waltrip, who took a past champion's provisional.

Dale Jarrett, in the No. 88 Quality Care/Ford Credit Taurus, was the fastest second round qualifier Saturday, turning in a lap of 153.645 mph, and placing him 32nd on the grid for today's GM Goodwrench Service Plus 400. Jarrett had engine problems and wound up last in first-round Bud Pole Qualifying on Friday.

Not making the field for the season-opening Daytona 500 still burns Kenny Wallace, but he's getting a little bit of redemption this week at Rockingham. Wallace qualified second on Friday for Sunday's GM Goodwrench Service Plus 400, and will start in the front row alongside Mast.

"I missed one race last year in California, but when I missed the 40th annual Daytona 500, it hurt so bad I was devastated," Wallace said. "I didn't get over it until probably Wednesday. If it wasn't for my wife taking me to Epcot Center, and the fans were still there, well, it made it to where I wouldn't at least cut my wrists."

Wallace won't have to re Wallace said. "Everybody in the garage had my name circled because I was a bullet that they had to watch out for. That's the most reverse thing about a race car driver. You never want to come out of the clear blue and run a quick lap because nobody gives you credit for it. It's like 'Oh, he just got in a good lap.' I don't like that."

Go figure. Hut Stricklin, driver of the No. 8 Circuit City Chevrolet, was one of the four drivers who failed to make the Daytona 500 who qualified in the top 10 for GM Goodwrench Service Plus 400. It's so baffling that even Stricklin can't figure it out.

"That's just the way NASCAR Winston Cup racing is these days," said Stricklin, who'll start from the outside of Row 5 on Sunday. "It's so competitive. A guy could miss a race one week and come back the next week and sit on the pole. Kenny Wallace almost did that.

"It's unbelievable it's that competitive. A tenth of a second can make or break you. The hard part is, when your car is off just a tenth of a second, it can still feel goo and drive good. It dumbfounds you because you don't know what you need to do to make it faster because it already feels good."

The other drivers that failed to make the Daytona 500 and then qualified in the top 10 at North Carolina Speedway were Wallace, David Green (third) and Johnny Benson (eighth).

Two of the Roush boys topped the list of speeds in "Happy Hour" on Saturday, the final practice for NASCAR Winston Cup Series teams prior to the GM Goodwrench Service Plus 400. In fact, Jack Roush Racing had four of its five cars in the top 10.

Benson, was fastest in the final NASCAR Winston Cup Series practice in his No. 26 Cheerios Ford Taurus with a speed of 150.832 mph. Ted Musgrave, in the No. 26 Primestar Ford, was second at 150.252.

Mark Martin (149.969) and Jeff Burton (149.804) were fifth and sixth, respectively. Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon continue to struggle. Earnhardt, who'll start 37th on Sunday, was only 27th fastest in practice (148.239) on Saturday, while Gordon was 33rd fastest overall in the final practice session (147.742).

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Wally Dallenbach Sr. , Jeff Gordon , Ernie Irvan , Dale Jarrett , Darrell Waltrip , Bobby Labonte , Todd Bodine , Kenny Wallace , Hut Stricklin , Johnny Benson , Ted Musgrave , Chad Little , Rick Mast , Richard Petty , Gary Bradberry , Morgan Shepherd , Jack Roush , Greg Sacks , Mark Martin