BUSCH: Gaateway Thursday Notes

CarQuest Auto Parts 250 Thursday Notebook By Shawn A. Akers MADISON, Ill. (Oct. 15, 1998) Some notes and quotes Thursday surrounding Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division CarQuest Auto Parts 250 at Gateway International...

CarQuest Auto Parts 250 Thursday Notebook By Shawn A. Akers

MADISON, Ill. (Oct. 15, 1998) Some notes and quotes Thursday surrounding Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division CarQuest Auto Parts 250 at Gateway International Raceway:

Gateway International Raceway isn't exactly the "Field of Dreams," but for five drivers this weekend, the track will hopefully be the beginning of big things to come in the future.

Those drivers -- most notably, Adam Petty, and Scott Hansen, Joe Buford, Eric Jones and Melvin Walen -- will be making their NASCAR Busch Series Grand National debut this weekend in an attempt to qualify for Saturday's CarQuest Auto Parts 250 at Gateway.

Petty, the grandson of seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion Richard Petty, enjoyed a successful rookie season in the American Speed Association and will drive the No. 22 Spree Prepaid Foncard Chevrolet for ST Motorsports and owner Tad Geschticker. Petty recently won an ARCA race held at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

An ASA veteran who resides in Concord, N.C., Hansen will drive the No. 12 Graybar/Bussman Chevrolet, a car owner by NASCAR Winston Cup regulars and St. Louis area natives Ken Schrader and Kenny Wallace.

Jones has also been involved the ASA ranks and will attempt to qualify the No. 70 Adrian Carriers Chevrolet. Buford is a native of the Nashville, Tenn., area and will get behind the wheel of the No. 50 Dr. Pepper Ford of Washington-Erving Motorsports. Walen will attempt to qualify the No. 58 American Eagle Racing Chevrolet.

Curtis Markham will once again be behind the wheel of the No. 64 Schneider National Chevrolet for Saturday's CarQuest Auto Parts 250, in the absence of regular driver Dick Trickle, who is in Daytona participating in Saturday night's NASCAR Winston Cup Pepsi 400.

It will be the sixth time Markham has substituted for Trickle this season due to scheduling conflicts for Trickle with the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Markham has two top-10 finishes in five starts, including sixth-place runs at both South Boston (Va.) and Pikes Peak (Colo.)

"Thursday's practice will be really important for me with no laps on the track and getting the right set-up under the car," said Markham, making his first start at Gateway International Raceway. "This will be the last time in 1998 that I will be driving the No. 64, so I want to have a really good run for everybody involved."

Andy Santerre, rookie driver of the No. 47 Monro Muffler and Brakes Chevrolet, made a visit on Thursday morning to the Spinal Cord Injury Unit rehabilitation program at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. One of the patients is a paraplegic injured in a motocross race accident, who is able to pedal a stationary bicycle through electrical simulation of nerves in his legs.

Santerre also met with Pat Rummerfield, a Washington University School of Medicine injury prevention researcher. Rummerfield, 45, is what Santerre's wife, Sue, called a "walking miracle," as Rummerfield recovered from a car wreck in the 1970s that left him paralyzed from the neck down and is now an accomplished tri-athlete currently in training as a race car driver planning to join the NASCAR circuit in 1999.

Wayne Grubb, driver of the No. 83 Link-Belt Chevrolet, clocked the fastest time in the practice session held late Thursday afternoon, turning a fast lap of 131.857 mph. Matt Kenseth, second in the NASCAR Busch Series point standings, was second at 131.667 mph.

The Earnhardt brothers showed they were able to adapt quickly to the 1.25-mile Gateway International oval, finishing third and fourth in practice, respectively, with laps of 131.008 and 130.936 mph. Buckshot Jones was fifth.

The surprise of the afternoon, however, might have been Petty, who was sixth-fastest in practice with a lap of 130.708 mph.

Tony Stewart was a disappointing 31st in the first practice session on Thursday afternoon. The No. 44 Shell Pontiac blew a head gasket during the session, and the team had to switch motors for Friday's practice and qualifying session.

The Clean Shower "Mac Attack" Chevrolet, with driver Bobby Hillin Jr., will sport a new look this weekend. The No. 8 Chevrolet will debut a special edition paint scheme honoring Mark McGwire's 70-home run season.

McGwire is one of several Major League Baseball players who own a part of the Bobby Hillin Racing team. The others are Andy Benes, Gary Gaetti, Pete Schourek, Hal Morris and Danny Sheaffer, who will all be in attendance at Saturday's race.

Temperatures won't be a factor this weekend in Madison as they were a year ago for the inaugural race at Gateway, when it reached over 100 degrees. Air temperatures are expected to be 25 to 30 degrees cooler, in the mid-70s, for both qualifying on Friday and the race on Saturday.

On Friday, Gateway International Raceway will become a chapel, of sorts. Jessica Smith and Jeff Budd, both of Edwardsville, Ill., will be married at the finish line of the 1.25-mile paved oval approximately 30 minutes after the end of Friday's practice and qualifying activities for the CarQuest Auto Parts 250 and the USAC Silver Crown Championship Series Shop'n Save 100.

Smith is an administrative assistant for a St. Louis company and has been a member of the volunteer Race Management team that works during all major events at Gateway. Budd is an engineer for a local St. Louis television station.

In preparation for the Carquest Auto Parts 250, Mark Green participated in a three day test session at the 1.25-mile Gateway on Sept. 22-24. Green finished eighth in last year's inaugural CarQuest Auto Parts 250 at Gateway.

Mark Green and his brothers, David and Jeff, are the focus of a feature which will air on The Nashville Network's (TNN) weekly Inside NASCAR motorsports show on Oct. 17-18. The feature was filmed in the Greens hometown of Owensboro, Ky. on Oct. 5 and follows the brothers as they take a trip down memory lane. The journey took them to many Owensboro sites including Apollo High School, Moonlite Bar-B-Q , Tomco Concrete Products and Kentucky Motor Speedway.

Source: NASCAR Online

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Drivers Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Dick Trickle , Adam Petty , Ken Schrader , Kenny Wallace , Mark Green , Eric Jones , Scott Hansen