FORD REPORT CARD DieHard 500 April 14, 2000 Talladega Superspeedway Here are some notes on Ford teams and the cars they will be running this weekend: 2 RUSTY WALLACE Even though his dominating run last week at...
FORD REPORT CARD
April 14, 2000
Here are some notes on Ford teams and the cars they will be running this weekend:
2 RUSTY WALLACE
Even though his dominating run last week at Martinsville ended in a 10th-place finish, Rusty has been running extremely well in 2000...has 2 poles (Rockingham and Martinsville), 1 win (Bristol), 4 top-10 and 3 top-5 efforts...has a streak of three straight top-10s coming into the weekend and is 6th in point standings...this will be his 34th career race at Talladega and is still seeking that first win...was caught up in an accident in last year's DieHard 500 and finished 41st, but is hoping for better luck this week as he drives the same car he had at Daytona two months ago...PC-18 debuted to rave reviews as it started the Daytona 500 fifth and finished fourth.
6 MARK MARTIN
Martin made it 8 different winners in the first 8 races of 2000 with his win last week at Martinsville...that tied him for 17th-place on the all-time NWC win list at 32 with the late Fireball Roberts...all of his 32 wins have been in a Ford, ranking him 3rd behind Ned Jarrett (43) and Bill Elliott (40) on the all-time Ford win list...also moved within 36 points of point-leader Bobby Labonte in the NWC standings...had a solid Daytona 500 as he led once for 65 laps before finishing 5th...will have the same car he used at Daytona this weekend as he seeks his 3rd career win at Talladega.
9 STACY COMPTON
Suffered engine problems late in last week's race and finished 39th, marking his first DNF of the year...this will be Compton's first race at Talladega, although he has tested here in both a NWC car and NCS truck... ran this car in the Daytona 500, where he started 33rd and finished 26th.
11 BRETT BODINE
After missing two of the first three races, Bodine and his team have turned it around...qualified first round in four of the last five events (16th in Atlanta, 24th in Bristol, 25th in Texas, 4th at Martinsville)...his 4th-place qualifying effort last week was his highest since starting 3rd at Loudon in the fall of '97...got caught in the middle of a chain-reaction wreck that spun Ricky Rudd and put Bodine behind the wall (36th)...has the same car he atttempted to qualify with for the Daytona 500.
12 JEREMY MAYFIELD
Mayfield appears to be back in the groove after stringing together three straight top-10 finishes for the first time since '98...coming off a 7th-place showing last week at Martinsville after finishing 6th at Texas and a season-best 4th at Bristol...now has four top-10s (7th in Atlanta) in 2000 and is 9th in point standings...if it weren't for 2 races (lost 4th gear at Atlanta and finished 28th and then got hit from behind at Darlington and finished 34th), he would easily be in the top 5 of the point standings...has the same car he finished 11th with at Daytona.
13 ROBBY GORDON
After missing the Texas race, Gordon bounced back and made the field last week at Martinsville...started 42nd but did not finish the event after suffering extensive rear-end damage in a late-race accident...team has made its second major move of the season, switching to Yates Engines for the rest of the season...had been running Pro Motors the first 8 races...this will mark Jerry Baxter's second week as crew chief after taking over for Fred Graves...Gordon will have the same car he had at Daytona (finished 18th).
15 TED MUSGRAVE
Ted Musgrave will be in the Fenley-Moore Motorsports Taurus this weekend, replacing Derrike Cope...this will be the second time Musgrave will drive the 15 car...he drove a couple of races for Moore in '98 after leaving Roush Racing...this will be the team's first race since Cope finished 19th at Atlanta... paint scheme has been changed from all black to white and blue... significance to this is that Bud Moore won a number of races with this paint scheme from 1972-81 with drivers like Bobby Isaac, Buddy Baker and Bobby Allison.
16 KEVIN LEPAGE
Comes back to Talladega, where he was 2nd with two laps to go last fall (going for the Winston No Bull 5 million), but got shuffled out and finished 18th...if it weren't for Bristol and Martinsville, Lepage would likely be comfortably in the top 20...finds himself 24th, however, after finishing 34th last week and 30th at Bristol... qualified in top 5 at Atlanta (5th) and Darlington (2nd) and had his best weekend of the season at Texas where he qualified 2nd and finished 5th...has led a total of 4 times for 27 laps this year, which is more than he led in his previous year-and-a-half as a NWC driver...entering 2000 Lepage had led in two races a total of 4 times for 20 laps...has Daytona car this week with the only difference being a new body.
17 MATT KENSETH
Had his streak of qualifying in the first round snapped last week, but managed to move up 10 spots from his 31st starting position to finish 21st...has 4 top-15 finishes in 8 races this year with his best being 6th-place at Darlington...will also be running the same car he had at Daytona in which he started 24th and finished 10th.
21 ELLIOTT SADLER
Has struggled the last three weeks with all sorts of bad luck...missed the setup last week at Martinsville, qualifying 41st and finishing 29th after an early-race spin...still recovering from laceration at Texas in which part of his shredded left-rear tire hit him on the left shoulder...got spun on the second lap at Bristol three weeks ago and finished 41st...that has offset some solid qualifying which has seen Sadler start in the top 10 twice in the last four races...his car served as the Daytona back-up, but it ran last year at both Daytona and Talladega.
26 JIMMY SPENCER
Spencer and his Big Kmart team have shown signs of coming around on the speedways as evidenced by their season-best 15th-place finish at Texas two weeks ago...team has three top-20 efforts in the last five races and that figures to get better this weekend because Talladega is one of Spencer's favorite tracks...finished 2nd to Bobby Labonte in this race two years ago and has one of his two NWC wins at this track...won the 1994 DieHard 500 here when it used to be run in July...has a brand new car this week.
28 RICKY RUDD
Appeared to have his best shot at winning last week at Martinsville, but was spun on lap 392 of the 500-lap race while running in the top five...that resulted in a 22nd-place finish after he qualified 7th...comes into this race 8th in points, whereas a year ago he was mired in 35th place...had his best finish of the 1999 season in the fall race here at Talladega when he leased a Robert Yates Racing engine and finished 3rd in the 10 car...also has his Daytona 500 car in which he qualified 2nd and finished 15th.
32 SCOTT PRUETT
Pruett has made 5 of the 8 races this season, but qualifying has been a case of feast or famine...has qualified in first round 4 times (including the outside pole in Atlanta and 3rd spot at Texas)...started 35th last week in his Martinsville debut and finished 32nd...led for the first time in his NWC career at Texas when he moved to the front on lap 4 and held it until lap 17...running the same car he had at Daytona (started 15th/finished 19th).
66 DARRELL WALTRIP
Waltrip has shown true determination the last three weeks as he has made the field on speed after using his four early-season provisionals in the first five races...qualified 13th at Bristol, 30th at Texas and 36th at Martinsville ...had his best finish of the season at Texas (24th)...ran this car in the Bud Shootout qualifying race for its only 2000 appearance.
75 WALLY DALLENBACH
Dallenbach and his new team have struggled recently, missing three of the last four races...Walter Giles has served as interim crew chief the last three weeks while a search continues for a full-time replacement for Wayne Orme...team plans on going to test at California Monday and Tuesday...the car Dallenbach has this week is the same one from Daytona in which he finished 40th after developing handling problems.
77 ROBERT PRESSLEY
Pressley comes into the weekend 27th in points and is only 23 Jimmy Spencer for 25th...not bad considering this team struggled much of last year and spent all but four weeks in 35th place or lower...managed to get through most of the accidents last week at Martinsville and finished 15th after starting 23rd...did not qualify for the last two restrictor-plate races of '99, but bounced back to finish 20th in the Daytona 500 two months ago...team tested at Daytona earlier this week and will run the same car they had in the 500 two months ago.
88 DALE JARRETT
Jarrett has the best restrictor-plate record of any NWC driver over the last 9 events (1998-present)...in that time he has posted 3 wins, a pair of second-place finishes and one third-place showing...got those wins in the '00 Daytona 500, '99 Pepsi 400 and '98 Winston 500...Earnhardt is next on the list with 3 wins and 2 seconds...since Jarrett's Daytona car is in Daytona USA, the team has built a brand new car for this weekend's race...Jarrett is coming off a 5th-place showing at Martinsville last week to move up one spot in the standings to 7th.
90 ED BERRIER
Berrier and the Hills Bros. Coffee team have struggled to make races lately...qualified at Texas, but has missed five of the last six events overall...the good news for the team is that they qualified for the Daytona 500, starting 26th and finishing 37th after a mechanical problem ended his day...Berrier finished 37th with this car in the Daytona 500.
94 BILL ELLIOTT
Elliott got back on track last week at Martinsville as he finished 8th...that marked his fourth top-10 finish of 2000 and snapped a streak of three races outside that grouping...has improved his place in the point standings by 8 spots from this same time last year...comes into this weekend 13th after being 21st through the first 8 races of '99...has one of his 40 career wins at Talladega with that coming in the 1987 DieHard 500...this car is named "Mac Daddy" and is the same one Elliott raced at Daytona and finished 3rd.
97 CHAD LITTLE
Little is looking to bounce back from a tough week at Martinsville which saw him start 38th and finish 27th...despite that he is 15th in the point standings and has posted three top-15 finishes in the last five races...finished 13th at Texas after a season-best 6th at Atlanta...was also 15th at Darlington... Little has a new car to race this weekend, but it does have a Talladega test session under its belt from a couple of weeks ago.
99 JEFF BURTON
Burton's 2nd-place finish at Martinsville last week gave him 6 top-10s in the first 8 races of 2000, but an engine problem at Rockingham (32nd) and cut tire at Atlanta (43rd) have kept him from being on top of the NWC standings...has overcome those problems, however, and has gained 9 spots in the standings over the last 4 races...has gone from 13th after Atlanta to 4th coming into this weekend...has finishes of 5th (Darlington), 9th (Bristol), 2nd (Texas) and 2nd (Martinsville) to climb back into the race...Burton will have his second-place Daytona car this weekend as he searches for his first NWC restrictor-plate win.