BUSCH: Atlanta: Hank Parker Jr preview

LAST RACE (Sam's Town 250) - Hank Parker Jr. and the No. 36 GNC Live Well Racing team scored their second top-five finish of the 2002 season with a fourth-place finish at Memphis Motorsports Park. Parker and his team's pit strategy helped gain ...

LAST RACE (Sam's Town 250) - Hank Parker Jr. and the No. 36 GNC Live Well Racing team scored their second top-five finish of the 2002 season with a fourth-place finish at Memphis Motorsports Park. Parker and his team's pit strategy helped gain precious track position after a 17th-place start. In eighth place on the final restart, Parker picked up four positions in a two-lap dash to the finish.

STANDINGS - Parker is 14th in the NASCAR Busch Series Drivers' Points Standings, and team owner Wayne Jesel holds the 18th spot in the owners' points standings.

PARKER'S HISTORY AT ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY - Atlanta Motor Speedway has not been kind to Hank Parker Jr. In three Busch Series starts here, Parker has finished no higher than 17th. That finish came in March 2000 while driving his family-owned No. 53 Chevy. In last year's Aaron's 312, Parker was running in the top-10 when his No. 36 GNC Live Well machine ran out of fuel on lap 81 of the 203-lap event. As Parker was trying to limp his car to pit road, he was hit from behind by the No. 46 machine of Ashton Lewis Jr. Parker and Lewis were both uninjured, but their cars were too damaged to continue in the race. Parker was credited with a 38th-place finish.

IN THE MONEY - With the prize money he won in the Sam's Town 250 at Memphis, Hank Parker Jr. surpassed $2.5 million in career winnings in the NASCAR Busch Series. In 126 starts, Parker has earned $2,520,018.

THE CAR - The No. 36 GNC Live Well Racing team is bringing chassis No. 17, aka "The Blue Car," to Atlanta Motor Speedway. In July, Parker drove No. 17 in his second career NBS win, which came at Pikes Peak International Raceway. Most recently, Parker drove the chassis at Kansas Speedway, where he finished 18th. "The Blue Car" got its nickname last year, when it carried a special blue paint scheme in several races to promote a new GNC Live Well product, the NASCAR Kids Multivitamin. The car is again painted blue, in honor of GNC Live Well's grand reopening celebration.

TESTING - In preparation for his NASCAR Winston Cup debut, Hank Parker Jr. spent Tuesday, Oct. 22, testing with Evernham Motorsports at North Carolina Motor Speedway in Rockingham. As part of Dodge Motorsports' research and development program, Parker will pilot the No. 91 Dodge Intrepid R/T for Evernham in the Nov. 3 Pop Secret 400 at "The Rock."

THE CELEBRATION CONTINUES - GNC Live Well, the primary sponsor of Hank Parker Jr.'s No. 36 Dodge Intrepid, is celebrating the redesign and grand reopening of its 4,200 stores in the United States. To help raise awareness of the GNC stores' new look, which is designed to be a more informative and consumer-friendly environment, Parker's car is sporting a special paint design at Busch Series events throughout the month of October.

Parker's GNC Live Well Dodge is painted blue with green trim, and it features a sunflower motif on the hood, bumper, and sides of the car, while the tag line on the hood states, "New look. New attitude. New GNC." Sunflowers have been a part of GNC's heritage for 40 years. In 1972, GNC developed a pitch for its customer-service representatives touting the benefits of "zesties," otherwise known as sunflower seeds, which are high in protein, low in carbohydrates, non-fattening, rich in natural vitamins and a great source of minerals.

The special color scheme, which introduces the same colors GNC is featuring in its new store design, was debuted at Lowe's Motor Speedway earlier this month.

HANK PARKER JR. ON ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY - "It's definitely a fast place. It's a fun track, though. I'm hearing it's got a lot less grip than in years past, so I'm not sure what to expect. I'm hoping the bad weather holds off and we get plenty of practice time if the track's as slick as they say. If we don't, you're liable to see a lot of cautions on Saturday."

CREW CHIEF GARY COGSWELL ON ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY- "It's the fastest track we go to. You've really got to have both your horsepower and your aero package together to be successful here. Goodyear's bringing a new left-side tire, and everyone that's tested says the track has lost a ton of grip. You could tell it was going away somewhat in last year's race, but I guess the combination of the new tire and the track being another year older is really making things slick.

"We'll use our notes from Charlotte, which is another slick track, and combine that with the notes Casey (Mears, driver of the No. 66 Dodge and Parker's Team Jesel teammate) gathered when his team tested here a couple of weeks ago. Not having tested here ourselves, we're really hoping to get in a lot of practice laps before Saturday's race."

ON THE PRESSURES OF BEING A CREW CHIEF IN ONE OF NASCAR'S TOP DIVISIONS - "It's definitely a high-pressure job. You can't ever quit thinking about what you're doing. I feel like I'm probably even thinking about racing when I'm asleep. On Friday night after happy hour, I run a number of different options and scenarios over in my head. By the time I wake up on Saturday morning, I usually have a plan or a solution figured out.

"On the way back to the airport after a race, I analyze everything that happened six ways to Sunday. By the time I get on the plane, I can usually put it out of my mind for a while. I like that you have to constantly be on your toes, though. It's like JFK said about landing men on the moon. 'I want to do it because it's hard, not because it's easy.'"


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Drivers Hank Parker Jr. , Ashton Lewis