BUSCH: Charlotte II: Hank Parker Jr. preview

Parker keeping busy during season's final stretch. CONCORD, N.C. (Oct. 8) - While the race season may be winding down, NASCAR Busch Series (NBS) driver Hank Parker Jr. is not. Parker, who pilots the No. 36 GNC Live Well Dodge Intrepid in the...

Parker keeping busy during season's final stretch.

CONCORD, N.C. (Oct. 8) - While the race season may be winding down, NASCAR Busch Series (NBS) driver Hank Parker Jr. is not.

Parker, who pilots the No. 36 GNC Live Well Dodge Intrepid in the NBS, is keeping a hectic schedule, with a number of personal appearances lined up in the next few weeks.

On Wednesday, Oct. 9, fans in the Charlotte, N.C., area will get two chances to meet Parker. Along with fellow NBS driver Kenny Wallace, Parker will help celebrate the grand reopening of GNC's 4,200 retail stores throughout the United States by signing autographs at the GNC Live Well retail store located in the Northcross Shopping Center on Sam Furr Road in Charlotte from noon-2 p.m. EDT.

Later that afternoon, Parker will take part in Michael Waltrip's "Party With The Posse" charity event from 5-7 p.m. EDT. Waltrip's bash will be a carnival-like atmosphere to benefit the Sherrills Ford-Terrell Fire and Rescue and longtime Michael Waltrip Racing employee Randall Bradford, who currently battles cancer.

The event, which will feature autograph sessions with a number of NASCAR Winston Cup and Busch Series drivers, is being held at the Sherrills Ford Fire and Rescue building, located on Sherrills Ford Road in Mooresville. The GNC Live Well Dodge Intrepid replica will also be on hand throughout the party, which begins at 3 p.m. EDT.

On Friday night, Oct. 11, Parker and his teammate at Team Jesel Motorsports, Casey Mears, will appear at the new Iron Thunder Saloon, located just off Speedway Boulevard near Interstate 85. The teammates will head over from Lowe's Motor Speedway following NBS happy hour to sign autographs for fans from 6-8 p.m. EDT on Friday night.

On Monday, Oct. 14, Parker will display his golfing skills, or lack thereof, at the John Boy and Billy "Big Show" Celebrity Golf Tournament at Cramer Mountain Country Club in Charlotte. Proceeds from this annual event will benefit Speedway Children's Charities and The Foundation for the Education of Children with Down syndrome.

On Thursday, Oct. 17, Memphis Motorsports Park is hosting an autograph signing at the Gibson Guitar Factory in Memphis, Tenn. Parker and a number of other NBS competitors will greet fans from 7-8 p.m. CDT at the factory, which is located just one block from historic Beale Street in downtown Memphis.

As always, fans attending any NBS event for the remainder of the season will likely have an opportunity to meet Parker on race day at the on-site merchandise trailer he shares with NBS championship contender Jason Keller. Parker and Keller usually sign autographs for a half-hour on race morning, beginning at 9:30 a.m. local time. Fans are encouraged to visit the trailer in advance to verify if and when Parker and Keller will be signing autographs at each event.

ANOTHER DAY OLDER - Hank Parker Jr. celebrated his 28th birthday on Monday, Oct. 7. He received a special present from his wife, Wendy. Wendy gave him a scrapbook filled with pictures of Parker's great-grandparents, grandparents and mother and father, as well as photos of Parker and his four siblings from their births until now.

OH BABY! - Hank Parker Jr. and his wife, Wendy, recently announced they would become parents in April 2003. Wendy Parker just successfully completed the first trimester of her pregnancy. Parker admits the pregnancy was one of the worst kept secrets in the garage, as he has been sharing the news with other drivers and their wives and girlfriends for the past several months.

NEW LOOK - 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 will sport a special paint design at Busch Series events throughout the month of October.

The special color scheme, which introduces the same colors GNC is featuring in its new store design, will also be seen at NBS events in Memphis, Tenn., and Atlanta.

HANK PARKER JR. ON THE RECENT DISCUSSION ABOUT CONCUSSIONS - "It's a hard subject to discuss. I think that thoroughly checking a driver out after a hard hit is always a smart move. On the other hand, it's scary whenever someone else is put in control of your destiny. I mean, one doctor may say you're ready to drive, then another one decides you're not, and the next thing you know, you're out of the car and maybe even out of a job. If I was leading the points and a doctor told me I couldn't drive because of a concussion, I'd have to go get a second, third, fourth and fifth opinion just to satisfy my curiosity.

"If NASCAR decides that a doctor gets the final say on whether or not a driver is physically able to drive, I hope they'll build in a review process where other doctors are allowed to offer their opinions. You're talking about someone's career here. If a panel of doctors tells me I'm not ready to drive, I'll listen to that. I just hope such an important decision won't be left to one individual."

ON LOWE'S SPEEDWAY - "Charlotte (Lowe's Motor Speedway) is a really slick track, but I like that. The less grip a track has, the more racing grooves it seems to develop. With more grooves, you can really drive the car harder. You can pass on the outside or the inside and really move the car around. As a driver, it gives you a chance to really drive, instead of just riding in a line. I love the place. I hope they never pave the track again.

"One thing I had to get used to when I first ran here is how big the bumps are in (turns) three and four. You really have to work on your shock package and get your springs right to deal with those bumps. They're pretty significant."

CREW CHIEF GARY COGSWELL ON NOT ATTENDING THE RECENT TEST SESSION AT LOWE'S - "We didn't attend the Lowe's test session for a couple of reasons. Number one, we're running out of tests. We came to the spring session here, so we feel like we have a good notebook to go off of. Secondly, we tested at several tracks with similar layouts, so we can incorporate that information as well."

ON LOWE'S MOTOR SPEEDWAY - "Racing at Charlotte (Lowe's Motor Speedway) is always interesting, and always a challenge. The track is shaped like several others we visit, but it's a different animal. Texas and Atlanta are more alike than Lowe's is like either one of them. The way you come off the turns at Texas is different, and Texas has a ton of grip. Charlotte has nowhere near the grip some other tracks do. You can run almost two seconds faster per lap at Texas than Charlotte, even though they're identical in length."

-jm-

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Michael Waltrip , Jason Keller , Kenny Wallace , Hank Parker Jr. , Casey Mears
Teams Michael Waltrip Racing