Yellow Freight 300 Thursday notebook By Shawn A. Akers HAMPTON, Ga. (March 11, 1999) Some notes and quotes Thursday surrounding Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division Yellow Freight 300 at Atlanta Motor Speedway: The...
Yellow Freight 300 Thursday notebook By Shawn A. Akers
HAMPTON, Ga. (March 11, 1999) Some notes and quotes Thursday surrounding Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division Yellow Freight 300 at Atlanta Motor Speedway:
The Roush Racing duo of Mark Martin and Jeff Burton won't be driving together in Saturday's race, as in the first three races of the year, but that doesn't mean team owner Jack Roush might not be celebrating in victory lane yet again.
Burton and Martin have won the last two NASCAR Busch Series races, and Martin put his No. 60 Winn-Dixie Ford in the third starting position for Saturday's race with a qualifying lap on Thursday of 186.322 mph during Bud Pole Qualifying.
"It's a new car," Martin said. "It's worked real well the six laps we've run it. We just put it out in the qualifying line. On this track, you can run wide open all the way around. I didn't let off. I just ran flat out with 500 horsepower."
Roush drivers have swept the last two weekends. Martin also won the NASCAR Winston Cup event at Rockingham, and Burton made it to victory lane in last weekend's Las Vegas 400.
Chalk one up for the younger Green brothers. Jeff Green put his No. 33 Kleenex Chevrolet on the outside of the front row for Saturday's race with a fast lap of 186.648 mph, while Mark Green, in the No. 50 Dr. Pepper Chevrolet, had by far his best qualifying effort of the season, sixth, with a fast lap of 185.884 mph.
"I sure would have liked to have had the first one (position, looking at the scoreboard)," Jeff Green said. "I think the track might have gotten just a bit slicker. But second ain't bad, I promise you that. I thought we could have been a bit faster than what we were, but that's okay."
"All that bunch, the Martins and them, will be in the .50s and .60s bracket, and it won't stand up," Mark Green said during qualifying. "But that's good and we'll take it. Hopefully, it'll get us in on the first day."
Elliott Sadler is certainly pulling his weight again in the NASCAR Busch Series, and he's making the owners of the No. 47 Monro Muffler and Brakes Chevrolet happy they chose him to spell the injured Andy Santerre.
Sadler, who finished sixth in last Saturday's race at Las Vegas, qualified fourth on Thursday with a fast lap of 186.146 mph.
"I'm happy with that," said Sadler, the regular driver of the No. 21 Citgo Ford and a rookie in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. "It was a good run for us. We needed a run like that. I was kind of worried about the wind situation and what kind of affect that would have on us, but it didn't come into play that much. To get a top-10 out of this is just great."
Randy LaJoie, second to Burton in the NASCAR Busch Series point standings coming in, nailed the 25th and final qualifying position on Thursday in his No. 1 Bob Evans Chevrolet. He toured the 1.54-mile quad-oval in a speed of 183.607 mph.
"We'll be better for Saturday's race than we were for today," said LaJoie, who trails Burton by 25 points in the standings. "This was a brand new car. We've had a lot of problems in qualifying, but, guess you'd rather have them there than in the race. It just makes it tough, coming from far back."
A 15th-place qualifying effort left defending NASCAR Busch Series champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. scratching his head. Earnhardt Jr. turned in a qualifying lap of 184.911 mph.
"I don't have a clue (as to why he was slower than what he was in practice)," Earnhardt Jr. said. "I feel good as far as the race is concerned."
A total of 16 NASCAR Winston Cup regulars made it into the field for last Saturday's Sam's Town 300 at Las Vegas. Only eight NASCAR Winston Cup regulars qualified in the top-25 on Thursday for Saturday's Yellow Freight 300, including Martin, Sadler, Kevin Lepage (7th), Derrike Cope (8th), Geoffrey Bodine (10th), Terry Labonte (12th), Mike Skinner (17th) and Joe Nemechek (24th).
Ken Schrader (40th), Michael Waltrip (41st), Johnny Benson (42nd) and Ted Musgrave (51st) are the other NASCAR Winston Cup regulars who attempted to qualify on Thursday, and will have to try and re-qualify if they want to make the show. Mike Dillon and Jason Jarrett both crashed during practice and were forced to go to alternate plans. Dillon used a backup car to qualify 31st, and Jarrett did not even attempt to qualify.
Kevin Grubb, in the No. 37 Timber Wolf Chevrolet, hit the wall coming out of turns three and four during his qualifying lap, and he'll have to go to a backup car in second-round qualifying on Friday. Jeff Fuller also crashed during qualifying, and will have to do the same.
Qualifying certainly hasn't been Lyndon Amick's problem the last couple of weeks. The driver of the No. 35 SCANA/Powertel Chevrolet, who qualified third last week in Las Vegas for the Sam's Town 300, put his car in the top-10 once again on Thursday with a ninth-place qualifying effort of 185.430 mph for Saturday's Yellow Freight 300.
Amick hasn't been able to finish a race yet in three attempts, however. He's had engine problems twice, and was involved in an accident at Rockingham.
The last time Johnny Benson raced a NASCAR Busch Series car at Atlanta Motor Speedway, he ended up in victory lane. But that was four years ago, and Benson was driving the high-powered No. 74 Lipton Tea Chevrolet that helped him win the series championship that season.
This weekend, he'll be driving an unsponsored No. 26 Chevrolet for BACE Motorsports, one that he's driving in a limited schedule for BACE this season.
"The last time I raced in Atlanta in a Busch Series car, we won the race, but that was under the old configuration (of the race track)," said Benson, who qualified 42nd on Thursday and will have to re-qualify on Friday if he wants to get in the race. "I think our chances are good this weekend. I will just have to take some time to get used to the Busch car under the new configuration."
The No. 87 BellSouth Mobility Chevrolet, driven by Joe Nemechek, sported a newly-designed paint scheme highlighting his sponsor's "Send-End" campaign.
"Our new campaign delivers the message that our customers can feel confident that their BellSouth Mobility-powered cellular phone will work where they want it," said Mark Feidler, BellSouth Mobility President. "The 'send' button can essentially help keep them connected and in control of their lives. Working it into the race program added an exclamation point to the entire campaign."
Second-round qualifying for the Yellow Freight 300 is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. on Friday.
A note from the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Last Sunday's Las Vegas 400 race not only broke attendance records, but also broke viewing records, according to ratings figures released by ABC sports on Thursday.
The second annual Las Vegas 400, won by Jeff Burton, captured a 6.0 rating, marking an increase of three percent over the inaugural Las Vegas 400, which had a 5.8 rating in 1998. The 6.0 rating translates into a 15 share, which means the event was watched in an estimated 5,990,000 households and by almost 15 million people.
Source: NASCAR Online