Talladega pre-race notes

DIEHARD 500 PRE-RACE NOTES *** RACE FAN TRAFFIC NOTE *** TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY Public Relations Director Jim Freeman requests that members of the media alert their listeners/readers that they are advised to...



TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY Public Relations Director Jim Freeman requests that members of the media alert their listeners/readers that they are advised to time their travel from the west on I-20 so they are past Talladega Superspeedway prior to 8 a.m. Sunday. This is being advised to prevent Olympic traffic from becoming congested with Sears DieHard 500 traffic.

PAST WINNERS: Former DieHard 500 winners in the field include Dave Marcis (1976), Darrell Waltrip (1979, '82), Dale Earnhardt (1983- 84, '90-91, '93), Bobby Hillin (1986), Bill Elliott (1987), Ken Schrader (1988), Terry Labonte (1989), Ernie Irvan (1992), Jimmy Spencer (1994) and Sterling Marlin (1995).

RACE RECORD average speed is 176.309 mph set by Ernie Irvan in 1992, driving the Morgan-McClure Motorsports Chevrolet.


POSTED AWARDS for the Humminbird Fishfinder 500k are an event record $456,634. That is the second-highest posted awards of the season to date, trailing only the season-opening Goody's Headache Powder 300 at Daytona.

DEFENDING RACE winner is Chad Little, the only former winner in the field. The race record average speed of 167.472 mph was set by Ken Schrader in 1994.

POINT RACE: David Green, a two-time winner this season, holds a 75- point lead over Randy LaJoie in the NASCAR Busch Series points coming into the race. LaJoie won the Series' most recent event at New Hampshire International Speedway, his third victory of the year.

TRACY LESLIE (No. 11 Komatsu Chevrolet) -- (Leslie has secured a one-race sponsorship from Komatsu, a manufacturer of heavy construction equipment.) This is the car we had a Daytona (that was involved in an accident. We had hoped to get it back from the body shop in May but we just got it back last Monday -- I guess they figured they had a good bit of time to finish it! It's bad enough when you only have two guys working on the car, but when we got it back it had had front and rear clips and a new body put on -- it was just like a new car. But, they did a good job with it.

RACE NOTES: The race is 500 kilometers, 311.22 miles, 117 laps around the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway. Pit road speed is 65 mph. Caution speed is 70 mph. On restarts, lead lap cars line up to the inside and lapped cars line up on the outside.

HUMMINBIRD FISHFINDER 500K RACE NOTES Talladega Superspeedway, Saturday, July 27, 1996

MIKE HARMON (No. 24 MedPartners Chevrolet) -- Man, I couldn't believe it! The car was running so great and I was really proud of myself being the first time in the draft here at Talladega. Phil (Parsons) said he got turned around by the 29 car and there wasn't nowhere to go. I had my hand up waving and was slowing down when I got hit from behind and got knocked into a couple of other cars. The track just plugged up and there is nothing you could do about it. We just spun off the bank when that happened. The MedPartners Chevrolet will be back and we're looking forward to many more starts here. It's a shame it ended this way but when you're running good and go out it's a lot better and we can live with that 'til next year.

PHIL PARSONS (No. 10 ChannelLock Tools Chevrolet) -- I just watched the video in the ambulance coming over here. I was passing the 29 car (Greg Sacks) and I wanted to stay pretty much clear of him because he looked pretty wild yesterday in practice. I don't know if he was trying to get in behind me or what but he clipped me in the right rear corner, turned me straight into the wall and that collected all the rest of the guys. I don't know what he was thinking. I just can't believe it -- the ChannelLock Chevy was real good. Michael (Waltrip) came up there and I let him lead a while. We were just riding, because the car was so good we could lead pretty easily. If we fell back to 10th I felt like we could get back to the front. We just wanted to get to the finish and I was trying to be patient. That's the breaks and I've probably made mistakes, too.

LARRY PEARSON (No. 92 Stanley Tools Chevrolet) -- My spotter was yelling for me to go low and I was trying to get down low. In the meantime Phil (Parsons) was sliding down the race track and I hit him. There was nothing I could do... It was a typical Talladega wreck. People get too anxious too quick and some drivers aren't patient enough. Hey, the car was running great if I had somebody behind me to give me a push. Son of a gun we were coming up through there! I thought we were gonna have a pretty darn good run but it wasn't meant to be.

MIKE WALLACE (No. 90 Duron Paints Ford) -- I couldn't see a lot, to be real honest with you. Early in the race the 14 car was blowing a lot of oil and it loaded my windshield up. That was why I fell to the back of the draft. I needed to run to a caution because we didn't want to pit under green. Everybody started to check up and I got slowed down but it was a speedway wreck. Everybody's running so darn close together that if anything happens it takes a fair amount of cars out.

JOE BESSEY (No. 9 Delco Remy America Chevrolet) -- I saw the 10 car get up into the wall and get ready to come back down the track. I just moved down and I guess Mike Harmon caught me in the left rear quarter and turned me around. Then two or three of them hit me on the way by. The car's pretty bad -- it took both ends off of it.

RODNEY COMBS (No. 43 Lance Snacks Chevrolet) -- I cut a left rear tire down. I felt it going and I was trying to get it whoa'ed down, but it came around on the wheel and turned into the wall. It hit a ton! It wasn't a good spot to be in because I had no control to get it back down off the wall. It's a shame we collected some cars there. We had an awful good car. We had come from 17th to third! I was trying so hard for Lance and we had a car that was good enough to lead this thing. We got caught by the ill-fated bad luck deal with the left rear. We're fast -- we just can't get the finishes we deserve. If they stick with us we'll get 'em a win.

HERMIE SADLER (No. 1 DeWalt Tools Chevrolet) -- I'm not sure what started the whole thing -- I think maybe Rodney (Combs) cut a tire or something and then everybody started slowing down and the race track got blocked. I went up high and then came back down low. Stuff like that just happens, especially on a re-start. When you run so close together, like here at Talladega, there is nowhere to go and you just have to be lucky. I haven't been lucky this year.

MIKE DILLON (No. 72 Detroit Gasket Chevrolet) -- The 43 car (Rodney Combs) spun about mid-track. We caught it and had it clear, but I don't know where the #96 car (Stevie Reeves) came from, but he ended up beside me and somebody (spotter) must have 'cleared' him, then he spun in front of me and I ran into him. We had the wreck missed until that happened, but that's just part of it I guess. We were in the back and missed the first wreck that happened up front, then we got in the middle of the pack and then the wreck happened in the middle. I don't think some people are able to see or they are depending on their spotters too much.

DOUG HEVERON (No. 52 ACDelco Chevrolet) -- We were just coming back through with Jeff Purvis after the re-start and I saw the #43 car spinning down the backstraightaway> I was waving my hand and we were trying to get slowed up and someone hit me in the back end and got me spinning. It's too bad for the ACDelco car because it was going good. It was probably the best car I've ever had at a speedway.

STEVIE REEVES (No. 96 Clabber Girl Baking Powder Ford) -- It's a real shame! The guys did a great job with a Roush motor to get us in the show because the car wasn't really fast. On the first crash we got away clean. On the second wreck somebody got spun out, I was on the bottom and had nowhere to go. That caused a tire to cut down and it hit pretty hard -- the brake pedal's up under the dashboard.

KENNY WALLACE (No. 8 Red Dog Ford) -- (Involved in accident started by Combs.) I'm OK -- the car's not. They were just running all over each other -- that's what I saw! It's real simple -- people don't let off the gas. Everybody's runnin' so close... I don't know -- it ain't nobody's fault -- just racin', I guess.

DALE JARRETT (No. 32 Band-Aid Ford) -- I wish I knew exactly what happened. It started to miss, then I was just scrubbing my tires off getting ready for the restart and it cut out. By the time I got off of (turn) two it wouldn't fire at all. We think it was something in the switch box. It's too bad. Everybody was doing a great job and we were putting on a great show for the fans and having fun.

MARK MARTIN (No. 60 Winn-Dixie Ford) -- I got caught up in somebody else's wreck. Tony Stewart lost it. Well, I saw it happening but there's not a lot you can do here. It was a real hard hit. We were a contender.

TONY STEWART (No. 15 Ranier-Walsh Racing Pontiac) -- I was in turn three and the car was getting loose. I slowly tried to catch it, because if you over-correct too soon it's going to go on into the wall. Basically, it just came on around and went to the bottom part of the track, hit the flat and came back on the track. I was just staying in line, trying to pick the fastest line when I could and staying with some partners that I knew were going to go quick. It seemed like I got to the front pretty quick, but it seemed like one at a time that the Winston Cup guys were going with the Winston Cup guys and I got hung out to dry. There sure wasn't anyone helping me out there -- I did it all on my own.

MIKE McLAUGHLIN (No. 34 Royal Oak Charcoal Chevrolet) -- It was something in the driveline. I was trying to stay out of trouble and use my head. Ron Hutter gives us great engines and Charlie Brunnhoelzel gives us great bodies and we don't give them any results. We have never been able to finish and that was my goal today, to finish. I knew that if we could be there at the end we would have something for them. One time I took a run to the front and we ran there, but not having that much experience, I just wanted to finish this race. I guess it just wasn't meant to be. We finished in one piece so that's the only good part.

TODD BODINE (No. 81 Cape Canaveral Cruise Lines Chevrolet) -- It was just typical Talladega racing. Randy and myself were drafting to the front and we had a run on Greg Sacks. He pulled over to block us. When he pulled over I had to turn and when I turned, Randy ran into the back of me and just turned me sideways. I'm fortunate it didn't barrel roll and do all of the crazy things. That's just part of racing at Talladega. We had a good car -- maybe a top five. It was nice to run up front and be on TV and do all the things we came to do. It's unfortunate we got a junk race car.


GREG SACKS (No. 29 WCW Chevrolet) -- It was a terrific car all day long! The WCW Chevrolet, (crew chief) Sandy Jones, (team owner) Gary Bechtel, all the guys -- what a great job! What a tribute to them. When they talked to me about coming to this car they talked about a race-to-race deal. I didn't care nothing about a contract - - I just wanted to end up right here, in Victory Circle, and we've done it! Sandy kept the brakes on me all day long. We would fall back a little bit but we were never concerned. We had such a strong piece, there (this car won the Goody's Headache Powder 300 with Steve Grissom.). We knew we'd get toward the front at the end and that's what we did. (ON LAST FEW LAPS.) It was pretty nerve-wracking! We came around and Sandy let me know exactly what the situation was. When we took the green flag on the re-start I knew there were four racing laps to go and he said 'You do what you've gotta do -- you're the boss.' On the start I decided I wanted to be the rabbit, jump out and let them come after me. They came pretty hard! Joe was awful strong today and when he got to second I tried to play them against each other for a turn to try to not let them get too much momentum. (ON THE LAST LAP.) It didn't matter which way he (Joe Nemechek) went, that's where I went. Joe knew it -- he gave me a thumbs-up after the checkered flag. (ON ACCIDENT WITH PHIL PARSONS.) Phil and Joe got a run down to the inside, going into turn three, and Joe lifted. I waved-off to Joe to try to lift for Phil, but he came up a little quick and we got together. It was tough break for Phil -- he had a real strong car -- I'm just glad he wasn't hurt. (IS THIS HIS BIGGEST WIN?) I'd put this right at the top! It's been so long since that last one -- wherever it was... I guess it was another superspeedway, wasn't it (1985 Pepsi 400 at Daytona)? It's so long ago this right here is the top. I'm just looking to restart my career and this is a great jump-start right here. I was never worried about doubters and never worried about proving anything -- I just wanted an opportunity to get back in a car that could get me up front and Gary Bechtel and WCW and Sandy Jones -- this whole Diamond Ridge team gave me that opportunity. (Following TV interview Sacks had a massive embrace with Sandy Jones. Following media interview crew crawled across back of car to douse Sacks with water and Gatorade -- Sacks leapt across trunk lid of car and did a "leap of faith" into the crew's arms, behind the car.)

TERRY LABONTE (No. 5 Actron Chevrolet) -- Well, we finished fourth. We didn't wreck -- I guess that was the best part of the day.

MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 12 M W Windows Ford) -- It was kinda wild. I'd rather not even talk about the race.

JOE NEMECHEK (No. 87 BellSouth Mobility Chevrolet) -- It was a heck of a shoot-out at the end. We kept getting hung out and the car was really, really strong. I mean, we could definitely go to the front when we wanted to, but we needed just one more lap. It took just a little bit of time to get the momentum built up and Greg was in the right place at the right time. (ABOUT TODD BODINE'S WRECK) All of a sudden, the 81 car turned sideways and I couldn't really tell how it happened. He just got sideways.

RANDY LaJOIE (No. 74 FINA Chevrolet) -- We finished third -- I'm not quite sure how. I'm not sure what happened toward the end of the race. I got a bunch of fumes in me and I'm not sure who was driving the car at the end. I just looked up and I was second. I thought, 'hey, this is pretty cool.' I hated I got in the back of Todd. I got a good run and gave him a shot and we came down underneath Sacks, but Sacks came down, Todd had to check up and I just got in the back of him. The No. 95 car (David Green) was behind us, so that had to help us in the points race.

DAVID GREEN (No. 95 Caterpillar Chevrolet) -- The biggest thing that means a lot is this is the first time I've been running at the end of one of these things (Humminbird 500k's) in a competitive car able to race for the win. On that last restart Kirk (Shelmerdine, team consultant/crew chief) coached me through that thing and he said we were about the only ones who made a move. Nobody really went with me, but we had a top five until we got to the trioval and we had position on Purvis. I guess he didn't like it and he ran me down through the apron. I thought I was gonna wreck right there and wreck him, too. Somehow we didn't but I lost numerous positions. That's Talladega, I guess. (ON THE POINT RACE.) This race can be the one that makes you or breaks you. We hung right there and did what we had to do. The main thing was we were competitive and we made a move at the end. I feel pretty good about it. Randy (LaJoie) and I run side by side for about 10 laps with 20 to go but he got in the right line and I didn't. Every time I tried to go with somebody nobody would go. You've got to be in this position numerous times, I think, and this was my first time, so that's OK. I don't think all the pressure's on my shoulder (because of his championship-winning experience) because Kirk's got a wealth of knowledge. This is the first (full season) go-round for these guys. Nobody thought Randy was gonna be a contender, we got off to such a good start and now all I hear is he's got the championship sewn up. I think for what we've done people ought to take notice -- it's not a one-man job, it's a whole team. The guys from the Cat team ought to hold their heads up high.

KEVIN LEPAGE (No. 88 Farmers Choice Fertilizer Chevrolet) -- This is our fifth top 10 finish in 10 races (since joining Ridling Motorsports at Hickory in April). Here at Talladega, we qualified sixth and ran in the top 15 all day long. We didn't have a lot of help out there. We got up to fifth one time, but this is only my third time here and only my fourth superspeedway race. Maybe it's because I don't have a lot of experience so I guess I can't blame the guys for not running behind me or working with me. But, we helped a lot of them get up to where they needed to be. I'll get that respect. I'm real proud of the Farmers Choice boys. They worked real hard this weekend and I'm excited. We think we can win a race before the year's over. When I took this deal over in April, David (team owner, Ridling) knew this was basically a rookie race team. We've decided to learn from all the mistakes, experiment some and get after the championship in 1997.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Bill Elliott , Ernie Irvan , Darrell Waltrip , Terry Labonte , Tony Stewart , Sterling Marlin , Chad Little , Jeff Purvis , David Green , Mike Harmon , Steve Grissom , Greg Sacks , Stevie Reeves