Sears Point Friday Notes

Save Mart/Kragen 350 Friday notebook By Marty Smith SONOMA, Calif., (June 25, 1999) Notes and quotes Friday following Bud Pole Qualifying for Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series Save Mart/Kragen 350 at Sears Point Raceway: Second place isn't...

Save Mart/Kragen 350 Friday notebook By Marty Smith

SONOMA, Calif., (June 25, 1999) Notes and quotes Friday following Bud Pole Qualifying for Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series Save Mart/Kragen 350 at Sears Point Raceway:

Second place isn't necessarily a bad place to be at Sears Point. The second-place finisher has gone on to win the next year's race four times since 1989. If that trend holds, look for a strong run from Bobby Hamilton and the No. 4 Kodak Chevrolet. Hamilton qualified 17th Friday, but feels that once he's in competition, he'll fare much better. "I just need something to chase, but we're pretty happy," Hamilton said. "That's faster that we've been all day. We really thought we could run faster. I'm always real good in the chute. I take advantage of that concrete thing up there. I always run across it, and it feels cool as hell to do it.

"I know it's slower, but it feels good to do it. I just need something to chase. I need a rabbit. I think that's worth half a second. We're running good. We unloaded good. All we need is something to chase."

Hamilton will run the same car he took to his strong finish last year.

"We're running the same car, so it's good," he said. "I was hoping we could start in the top-15, but we're 17th, so we'll be all right."

Joe Nemechek recorded his fourth top-10 Bud Pole Qualifying run Friday, and will start sixth on Sunday. "I got in Turn 10 a little bit too hard and smoked the tires," said Nemechek, who pilots Felix Sabates' No. 42 BellSouth Chevrolet. "That was coming to get the green, so I felt it bouncing a little bit the whole lap. We must have flat-spotted the tire pretty good. It was a good lap.

"It's a second faster than we ran in practice. We'd struggled in practice. I ran in the sand box over there one time. We've had a good day. The car is good. I though we were going to the pole."

The Brothers Waltrip can't complain about their starting positions, as Darrell roared to a 10th-place, while Michael was right behind him in 11th. The performances were especially gratifying after both drivers wrecked last week at Pocono. "They started off telling me, you've just got to pick up a second from practice," said Darrell Waltrip, driver of the No. 66 Big Kmart Ford. "And then it wasn't very long, I was watching on TV, and they come in and said really to be good, you're going to have to pick up two seconds, and I said now wait a minute. It was a great effort for us. We've struggled so much. This car has never been raced. It's been run a few times, but it's never been raced. It's been tested by several different drivers on several different courses. We've fixed brakes. We've fixed the carburetor. Everything seemed to be wrong."

"That was a pretty good lap," Michael Waltrip said. "It could have been better. I had a couple of problems. I was mainly loose. We've been fighting loose. We though about making a major change and taking the rear sway bar off. I'm not sure that wouldn't have been a good idea. We decided just to adjust what we had. I though I could run faster, but I'm not disappointed. I wouldn't go out there and try again"

Heading into Turn 2 during his Bud Pole Qualifying lap, Elliott Sadler was forced to lock up the brakes on the No. 21 Citgo Ford. As a result, he stripped his transmission, ending what proved to be a miserable day from start to finish. Sadler began the day by dismantling an engine early in practice, then followed that up with a broken transmission later in practice. Come time for Bud Pole Qualifying, it seemed all that could happen had, but that wasn't the case. Seconds into his lap, the transmission locked up completely, leaving Sadler stranded near the start/finish line and ending any hope of making the race in the first round.

Steve Park, who has seen a resurgence in his team following the addition of crew chief Paul Andrews, suffered a bit of a setback Friday. He spun the No. 1 Pennzoil Chevy during Bud Pole Qualifying, and failed to finish his lap, dropping him to 48th on the grid. "We'd been having a little trouble locking the rear brakes up," said Park, running at the track for the first time. "It's not bad once they're hot. All day, you've had almost the whole track to get some heat in them. It's really my first time going out down the drag strip out there. Going into the first corner, I wheel hopped with the rear brakes and the rear axle & just to make sure we're not going to break anything on Saturday. The car has been pretty good. We thought we'd be in the top-20. It's a brand new car."

There have been eight different race winners in the 10 NASCAR Winston Cup Series races at Sears Point. Ernie Irvan (1992 and 1994) and Rusty Wallace (1990 and 1996) are the only repeat race winners here. Each accomplished the feat in two different makes. Irvan won in Chevrolet in 1992 and in a Ford in 1994, while Wallace won in 1990 in a Pontiac and in 1996 in a Ford. Nine different car owners have scored victories at the track, with Robert Yates the only owner to win more than once (Davey Allison in 1991 and Irvan in 1994).

Terry Labonte has gone 100 races since scoring his last Bud Pole, which came here in 1996.

The only starting positions that have produced more than one race winner here are first, which has produced three race winners, and fourth, which has won twice. The farthest back a winner was 13th, by Allison in 1991.

Ford has won five of the 10 NASCAR Winston Cup Series races here, including four of the past six. Chevrolet has three victories while Pontiac and Buick have one each.

Source: NASCAR Online

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Ernie Irvan , Darrell Waltrip , Terry Labonte , Rusty Wallace , Michael Waltrip , Steve Park , Joe Nemechek , Robert Yates , Elliott Sadler , Felix Sabates , Davey Allison