BUSCH: Dover II: Hank Parker Jr preview

Hank Parker Jr. / GNC Live Well Racing LAST RACE (Funai 250) - Hank Parker Jr. and the No. 36 GNC Live Well Racing team scored their sixth top-10 finish of 2002 with a seventh-place result at Richmond International Raceway in Virginia on Friday,...

Hank Parker Jr. / GNC Live Well Racing

LAST RACE (Funai 250) - Hank Parker Jr. and the No. 36 GNC Live Well Racing team scored their sixth top-10 finish of 2002 with a seventh-place result at Richmond International Raceway in Virginia on Friday, Sept. 6. After starting 20th, Parker drove chassis No. 18, the same car he piloted to a sixth-place result in the spring race at Richmond, to a seventh-place result this past weekend.

STANDINGS - Parker is 13th in the NASCAR Busch Series Drivers' Points Standings, and team owner Wayne Jesel holds the 17th spot in the owners' points standings. Parker is 170 points behind Stacey Compton, who is 12th. A top-10 finish in the standings is Parker's goal for the season.

"I'm going to have to probably win a race or two to be able to catch the next couple of guys in front of me in the points. Last year, beginning at Dover, the team pulled off five top-10 finishes in the final seven races, so I believe we can definitely claw our way into the top-10 by the end of the year. I've never been to the Busch Series banquet, so I'm hoping to have a reason to go this time."

PARKER'S HISTORY AT DOVER INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY - Hank Parker Jr. has qualified for six events in seven tries at Dover. His best finish was an eighth-place result in this event one year ago. That was only the second top-10 finish of the 2001 season for Parker, and his first with crew chief Gary Cogswell, who joined the team just three weeks prior. Parker's worst finish came in May 2000, when an accident 12 laps into the 200-lap event left Parker's No. 53 Team Marines Racing team with a 42nd-place result.

THE CAR - The No. 36 GNC Live Well Racing team is bringing chassis No. 21 to Dover International Speedway. This will mark only the second time this new car has been used in competition. Parker previously drove chassis No. 21 to a 15th-place result in the rain-shortened South Carolina 200 at Darlington Raceway in late August.

IT'S BEEN A VERY "GOODYEAR" - Crew chief Gary Cogswell and members of Team Jesel Motorsports will spend several days leading up to the Dover NASCAR Busch Series event at the Goodyear Tire Plant in Akron, Ohio. There, the crewmen will strap one of their Dodge Intrepids on to a special machine designed to simulate what happens to tires during a race.

"This machine pulls the car down, pushes it from side to side and does a lot of other things that a car experiences during an actual race," Cogswell said. "It will measure how much load and flex a tire has to endure, and it measures what happens when we make camber changes. What it does for us is, it will let us actually try some stuff we've just talked about doing. You can theorize all day long, but until you try what you've come up with and see if it actually works like you thought it would, you're just guessing.

"From what I understand, there's only been two or three other race teams that have gotten to use this machine, so we're honored that we get to put our car on it. We think it's going to give us a lot of valuable information that will benefit our program, so we're excited about it."

HANK PARKER JR. ON DOVER INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY - "Dover is such an unusual place. The concrete, coupled with the high banking, always makes for a fun race. As a driver, I like not having to deal with drastically changing track conditions. This place is so much easier to deal with than someplace like Charlotte, where even a tiny cloud can come over and completely change how your car handles."

ON THE RECENT DISCUSSION ABOUT LIMITING FAN ACCESS TO THE GARAGE - "It's a difficult issue. I only know what it's like on the Busch side. I can only imagine how crazy it is on the Cup side. I love the fans, and I know that without them, none of us have a job. On the other hand, when it gets to where crewmen can't do their jobs because too many people are in their way, then maybe it's time NASCAR looks at the situation. I've seen some Cup drivers who can't walk from their transporter to the bathroom without getting mobbed by fans. It has to be frustrating to not be able to even leave your transporter. I think there need to be some limits. With all this heavy pit equipment and cars constantly moving around, I'm afraid some poor fan is going to accidentally get run over and seriously hurt."

CREW CHIEF GARY COGSWELL ON DOVER INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY - "Your setup here at Dover is probably most like Charlotte, even though the two tracks are completely different. The two places are both rough tracks, but in a different way. Dover is a 'chattery' rough, while Charlotte is more of a 'bumpy' rough. I don't know if that makes much sense to someone who's not in racing, but that's the best way I can describe it."

ON DEALING WITH A NEW TIRE COMPOUND - "Goodyear is bringing a new compound to Dover, which always presents a challenge. From what we've been told, the construction of the tire is the same, but the compound is softer than before. That should be a positive thing for the driver, since a softer compound makes the tire feel like it sticks to the track better.

"When you're dealing with a new tire, I think your best bet is to start practice with a setup that you've run before. I don't think it's a good move to try and second-guess how the tire's going to react. You end up out-thinking yourself, and you'll dial yourself right out of the picture. We'll start with a setup that's worked for us before, then tweak it from there. The fortunate thing is that everyone is in the same boat as far as dealing with the new tire. No one got to test with it, so we're all having to work from scratch."

-jm-

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Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Hank Parker Jr.