BUSCH: Darlington Friday Notes

Dura-Lube 200 Friday Notebook By Shawn A. Akers DARLINGTON, S.C. (Sept. 4, 1998) Some notes and quotes Friday surrounding Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division Dura Lube 200 Presented by Bi-Lo: The No. 72 Detroit Gasket...

Dura-Lube 200 Friday Notebook By Shawn A. Akers

DARLINGTON, S.C. (Sept. 4, 1998) Some notes and quotes Friday surrounding Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division Dura Lube 200 Presented by Bi-Lo:

The No. 72 Detroit Gasket team, owned by Ron Parker, released crew chief Dean Johnson earlier in the week. Kevin Caldwell, who had been crew chief for Ricky Craven's No. 2 New Holland Chevrolet team previously and had a stint with the No. 47 Innovative Motorsports team as well this season, is acting as interim crew chief for the team this weekend for the Dura-Lube 200 Presented by Bi-Lo.

"Kevin Caldwell is stepping in for us this weekend, and if the team likes what it sees from him, we'll just go from there," said driver Mike Dillon. "I think if the owner is pleased, we might have him on for the rest of the season.

"This thing's been going on for a couple of weeks now, and it was in the best interest I think for everybody for the two parties to part ways. Hopefully we can get things back on track and get ourselves in the top-10 in the points.

Dillon is currrently 11th in the NASCAR Busch Series point standings, just nine points behind 10th-place Hermie Sadler and 71 points behind ninth-place Elliott Sadler.

Chad Little, Jeff Burton's Roush Racing teammate, practiced Burton's No. 9 Track Gear Ford during the final 30-minute "Happy Hour" practice for the NASCAR Busch Series cars on Friday evening. There was no official word as to why Burton was not in the car himself.

Two-time defending NASCAR Busch Series champion Randy LaJoie will have to start Saturday's race at the back of the field, but not because of an accident or violation. LaJoie had a terrible qualifying effort, qualifying only 39th-fastest out of 46 cars with a best lap of 161.074 mph.

LaJoie was forced to take a past champions' provisional and will start from the 43rd position.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans were also disappointed on Friday, as was the driver. The leader in the points race, Earnhardt Jr. was only 34th-fastest with a best lap of 161.609 mph, and will start from the outside of the 17th row on Saturday.

"We're very disappointed with our lap," said Earnhardt Jr., who has five victories already this season. "There's a good possibility that we'll be pitting on the backstretch, and that's going to be tough on us because that's a big disadvantage. I'm not sure if it is inexperience or the car, but whatever, we just don't have the right package yet."

Not a good qualifying effort for the "hometown" boy on Friday. Ron Barfield, from nearby Florence, S.C., missed making the field for Saturday's race, qualifying 41st-fastest with a best lap of 160.475 mph. The team runs a partial schedule in the NASCAR Busch Series, and therefore isn't likely to get a provisional with a mediocre qualifying effort.

"I've been struggling here the last few times," said Barfield, a regular in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, which had the weekend off. "This my home track and I wanted to make the race. It's very disappointing."

In a rare occurrence, Mike Wallace joined his brothers, Kenny and Rusty, at Darlington Raceway this weekend. Wallace, another regular in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, was hired by Washington-Erving Motorsports to drive the No. 50 Dr Pepper Ford in the race on Saturday.

Wallace didn't qualify well, qualifying on 45th-fastest out of 46 cars on Friday with a best lap of 158.796 mph. He received a provisional and will start 42nd in the 43-car field.

The "Mac Attack" watch continues on the back end of Bobby Hillin's No. 8 Clean Shower Chevrolet. Mark McGwire of the St. Louis Cardinals, part-owner of Hillin's car along with several other Major League Baseball players, is on the verge of breaking Roger Maris' single-season Major League home run record.

Going into a four-game series with the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night, McGwire had 59 home runs, two short of tying Maris and three short of setting a new mark. The number of home runs McGwire hits is emblazened on Hillin's back bumper and changes whenever McGwire goes deep.

Light rains in the morning pushed the practice and the qualifying schedule back on Friday for both the NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR Winston Cup teams. NASCAR Busch Series Bud Pole Qualifying, which was scheduled to get under way at 2 p.m. EDT, was pushed back to 3:50 p.m.

Both the NASCAR Winston Cup and NASCAR Busch Series teams got in more than an hour of practice prior to their qualifying runs.

Source: NASCAR Online

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Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Burton , Mike Wallace , Ricky Craven , Chad Little , Hermie Sadler , John Dean , Elliott Sadler