CarQuest Auto Parts 250 Saturday Notebook By Shawn A. Akers MADISON, Ill. (Oct. 17, 1998) Some notes and quotes from Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division CarQuest Auto Parts 250 at Gateway International Raceway: Matt...
CarQuest Auto Parts 250 Saturday Notebook By Shawn A. Akers
MADISON, Ill. (Oct. 17, 1998) Some notes and quotes from Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division CarQuest Auto Parts 250 at Gateway International Raceway:
Matt Kenseth did not win Saturday's race, and he lost five points to Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the championship chase in the process. But considering how Kenseth ran at Gateway last year, and how the team's performances have been on tracks similar to Gateway this season, Kenseth will certainly take a second-place run.
Kenseth finished a disappointing 27th in last year's inaugural CarQuest Auto Parts 250.
"Really, this is like a win for us because our flat-track program really hasn't been all that good this year," said Kenseth, who is now 102 points behind Earnhardt Jr. in the standings with three races remaining in 1998. "We didn't do very well here at all last year, so this is a big improvement. We've got to take this second-place run and be happy with it. We're going to a couple of tracks I really do like in Rockingham and Atlanta, so we're not out of this thing yet. We've still got time to win it." One of Kenseth's victories this season came in the second race of the year in February at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham.
None of the drivers who finished in the top-five in last year's inaugural CarQuest Auto Parts 250 at Gateway International Raceway were able to repeat their performance on Saturday afternoon.
Defending race champion Elliott Sadler wound up finishing 13th. Jason Keller, who finished second last year, finished 37th on Saturday. Dale Shaw, who finished third, wasn't even entered in the event; Elton Sawyer, who finished fourth last year, hit the wall nearly midway through Saturday's race and finished 38th. Mike McLaughlin, the fifth-place finisher of a year ago, finished 12th.
With his first Bud Pole of the season and the second of his NASCAR Busch Series career, Shane Hall became the 17th-consecutive different driver to win a Bud Pole on Friday during qualifying, a NASCAR Busch Series record.
It was also the 23rd-different Bud Pole winner in the NASCAR Busch Series in 1998, also a series record.
Since his four-race suspension for an incident at South Boston Speedway in July, Jeff Purvis and the Lance Snacks Chevrolet team have racked up some impressive finishes. On Saturday, he came home third behind Earnhardt Jr. and Kenseth to post his third top-10 finish in the four races that he's run since his return.
"I think we were focused before that happened, but we've built some very good race cars over the last few weeks, and I think the results are starting to show," said Purvis, who moved into sixth place in the NASCAR Busch Series point standings following Saturday's race. "In the first half of the season we just couldn't figure out what to do to step it up to the level where we could compete with Dale Jr. and Matt. I think we've done that now, and hopefully we can get a win before the season is out."
Randy LaJoie and the No. 74 FINA Chevrolet finally had something to crow about. The two-time defending NASCAR Busch Series champion, who has earned only one win this season after two consecutive five-win campaigns, earned his first top-10 finish since the end of July on Saturday, coming home seventh.
LaJoie, who will part ways with BACE Motorsports next season, had consecutive finishes of 16th, 31st, 19th, 30th, 37th and 22nd following a fourth-place finish in the Kroger 200 at Indianapolis Raceway Park.
Source: NASCAR Online