BUSCH: Atlanta Saturday Notes

Stihl 300 Saturday Notebook By Shawn A. Akers HAMPTON, Ga. (Nov. 7, 1998) Some notes and quotes surrounding Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division Stihl Outdoor Power Tools 300 at Atlanta Motor Speedway: Could things get...

Stihl 300 Saturday Notebook By Shawn A. Akers

HAMPTON, Ga. (Nov. 7, 1998) Some notes and quotes surrounding Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division Stihl Outdoor Power Tools 300 at Atlanta Motor Speedway:

Could things get any tighter in the NASCAR Busch Series top-10 point standings? There isn't much room for movement, that's for sure. With positions four through nine, there's only a 115-point difference. Elton Sawyer, who finished 13th in Saturday's race, moved into fourth place in the standings with 3,448 points. Elliott Sadler is fifth with 3,410; Randy LaJoie sixth with 3,405; Phi Parsons seventh with 3,401; Tim Fedewa eighth with 3,381; and Buckshot Jones ninth with 3,333.

LaJoie finished 41st and dropped two places in the standings. Parsons strengthened his position in the standings with an eighth-place run Saturday.

The final race, the Miami Jiffy Lube 300 next Sunday at Homestead, Fla., will determine the final positioning in the standings heading to the NASCAR Busch Series post-season awards banquet in Beverly Hills, Calif., in January.

NASCAR Winston Cup Series regulars had a pretty good day on the track Saturday. Four of them, including winner Mark Martin, finished in the top-10. Joe Nemechek was seventh, Michael Waltrip finished ninth and Ken Schrader came home 10th.

Tony Stewart, who will move up to the NASCAR Winston Cup Series next season, finished a solid third, while Buckshot Jones, who'll also go NASCAR Winston Cup racing in 1999, finished fifth.

The Raybestos Rookie of the Year Award hasn't been clinched just yet. Andy Santerre, driver of the No. 47 Monro Muffler and Brake Chevrolet, still leads the chase, but Kevin Grubb can take it away from him next Sunday at Homestead with a good run.

Grubb, the driver of the No. 52 Grubb Motorsports Chevrolet, can win the rookie title by finishing fourth in next Sunday's season-finale at Miami-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex. Grubb finished sixth Saturday at AMS.

Grubb, however, remained in third place in the rookie standings on Saturday. Dave Blaney, who finished 14th on Saturday, is in second place behind Santerre and can also win the rookie title with a top-four run.

Casey Atwood put together his best finish in quite some time on Saturday. The 18-year-old driver of the No. 63 Lysol Chevrolet, whose best finish this season was second at his home track of Nashville Speedway USA in March, came home 11th, including winning the $2,000 Gatorade Front Runner Award for leading the race at the halfway mark.

"It was a good run for us," Atwood said. "What I needed was to get some experience on the big tracks and I got it today. I learned a lot. What I enjoyed more than leading was being able to come from 36th all the way to eighth (at one point in the race). On tracks like this, you've got to learn to use the air and I got to deal with that today. It was quite an experience."

IWX Motor Freight's NASCAR Busch Series debut didn't exactly go the way driver Derrike Cope and owner Steve Coulter planned. The team, which will run a limited NASCAR Busch Series schedule next season, finished 36th and dropped out of the race after 113 laps with engine trouble.

"We started off and the car was tight," Cope said. "We lost a lap, and decided to pit for two tires to try to get track position on the lead lap. As we were in the pits, the caution came out and messed that up. We were really good after that.

"We started to develop a vibration. We changed the tires and that wasn't it. The car just vibrated all over. We decided to park the car. This is a new team and there is no need to destroy a race car. I'm happy. I think we'll be a competitor next year."

Dan "Stutz" Stuczynski, 15-year veteran engineer with Ford Special Vehicle Operations (SVO), was appointed the company's new program manager for the NASCAR Busch Series, it was announced Saturday by Greg Specht, Performance Operations Manager, SVO.

"This is an important assignment for that series," Specht said. "This is part of a new commitment by Ford to the Busch Grand National series and we're pleased that our teams will now have someone who can understand the day-to-day issues and represent their interests with NASCAR.

"Dan's primary role will be to act as the chief liaison between our teams, NASCAR, and our people at SVO and the Motorsport Technology Department. We're pleased to have him in this role, and hope this is the start of an increased Ford presence in Busch Grand National."

Source: NASCAR Online

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Drivers Derrike Cope , Tony Stewart , Michael Waltrip , Joe Nemechek , Buckshot Jones , Casey Atwood , Kevin Grubb , Elliott Sadler , Dave Blaney , Mark Martin