GNC Live Well Racing tries to loosen up in Michigan. -Hank Parker Jr. drives his No. 36 Dodge to a 13th Place Finish- BROOKLYN, Mich. (August 18) - Driver Hank Parker Jr. and the GNC Live Well Racing team scored a 13th-place finish in Saturday's...
GNC Live Well Racing tries to loosen up in Michigan. -Hank Parker Jr. drives his No. 36 Dodge to a 13th Place Finish-
BROOKLYN, Mich. (August 18) - Driver Hank Parker Jr. and the GNC Live Well Racing team scored a 13th-place finish in Saturday's Cabela's 250 NASCAR Busch Series (NBS) race at Michigan International Speedway (MIS).
Through most of the 125-lap event, Parker had battled a tight handling condition on his GNC Live Well Dodge Intrepid. Before each pit stop, he and crew chief Gary Cogswell discussed what adjustments the team would make to the car to free it up. After the final stop, Parker discovered the adjustments had worked a little too well, and found himself in an entirely different situation.
"I got loose, loose, loose near the end," Parker said of his car's handling. "I had been asking the guys to loosen the car up for me all day, so I got what I wished for. The crew did an awesome job in the pits. We made adjustments on every stop, and they got me in and out quick every time. I know they had to get tired of hearing me say 'I'm tight' so many times today, but they stayed after it."
Parker said the loose condition actually afforded him an unusual view of his competition.
"I was underneath Wally Dallenbach's car coming out of a turn, and I got so loose that I was looking out my front windshield and into his side window. I was dirt-tracking it."
The GNC team qualified ninth on Friday with a lap of 39.251 seconds and an average speed of 183.435 mph, but that was the last time Parker would make a lap before Saturday's race. Rain had delayed the start of the day's practice and qualifying schedule by nearly five hours, forcing NASCAR to cancel final practice for the NBS competitors. By the time qualifying for both the NBS and the NASCAR Winston Cup Series was completed, there was not enough daylight remaining to continue.
Fortunately, the team tested at MIS two weeks ago, and had notes to refer to in deciding on a race setup for the No. 36 Dodge.
The first pit stop of the day came on lap 25, when NASCAR put out a mandatory caution flag the teams had been told about before the event.
Already dealing with the tight condition, Parker and Cogswell decided to take on four tires and fuel, making a wedge adjustment and an air pressure adjustment to the new tires.
Running 17th on the lap 30 restart, Parker stayed in and around the top-20, but the tight handling condition remained. A caution for debris allowed the team to pit for more adjustments, making an air pressure and track bar adjustment before sending Parker back out.
On lap 78, a spin by Ron Hornaday brought out yet another caution flag and allowed Parker to come back to pit road for service. Again, the GNC crew bolted on four fresh Goodyear Eagles, filled the fuel cell and made adjustments to the No. 36.
By lap 103, Parker had worked his way up to 13th. Jimmy Spencer and Scott Wimmer got around Parker, dropping him back to 15th a few laps later. What happened next made for some exciting racing for several laps. The cars of Parker, Spencer, Wimmer, Tony Raines, Jamie McMurray and Wally Dallenbach created a six-car cluster on the track, with drivers slicing and dicing for position before things settled down.
In the final laps of the event, Parker battled with another Dodge driver, Wally Dallenbach. The two competitors stayed side-by-side for a number of laps before Parker claimed the 13th position just before he crossed the finish line.
For crew chief Gary Cogswell, a Michigan native, the good showing in his home state was satisfying, but not as much as he'd have liked it to be.
"I'd really have liked a top-five finish, which is a goal every week we race," Cogswell said. "If we could have gotten the car freed up a little earlier, I think we'd have been up there. The crew did a great job of adjusting on the car all day, though. They had some fast pit stops, and Hank (Parker) drove the wheels off of it. We had a good test here and gathered some good notes. I would have loved to have had even a half-hour of practice last night to do a little tweaking to our setup. I think we would have had something for these other guys."
In spite of the GNC Live Well team's strong finish, good runs by other competitors drops Parker one spot to 16th in the NBS Drivers' Points Standings.
The team now heads to Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee for Friday night's Food City 250 race. That event will air live on TNT (Turner Network Television) and PRN (Performance Racing Network) at 8 p.m. EDT.
In conjunction with Friday's race, Parker will make two appearances at Food City Family Race Night events. On Wednesday, August 21, he and his teammate, Casey Mears, will appear at the Food City event in Sevierville, Tenn. The following night, Parker will be at the Food City event on State Street in Bristol, Tenn./Va.
Parker can also be heard on a special Thursday-night edition of the "Fast Talk with Benny Parsons" radio program, which will broadcast live from State Street on PRN affiliate stations.