BUSCH: Homestead: Hank Parker Jr preview

LAST RACE (Bashas' 200) Hank Parker Jr. and the No. 36 GNC Live Well Racing team finished 27th in the Bashas' 200 at Phoenix International Raceway. On lap 140 of the 200-lap event, Parker and Kevin Harvick were battling side-by-side for the eighth...

LAST RACE (Bashas' 200)
Hank Parker Jr. and the No. 36 GNC Live Well Racing team finished 27th in the Bashas' 200 at Phoenix International Raceway. On lap 140 of the 200-lap event, Parker and Kevin Harvick were battling side-by-side for the eighth position. Their cars scraped each other in turn one of the one-mile oval, sending both machines into the outside retaining wall. Parker was able to return to the race, while Harvick's car was too damaged to continue.

Parker is 15th in the NASCAR Busch Series Drivers' Points Standings and team owner Wayne Jesel holds the 20th spot in the owners' points standings.

Homestead-Miami Speedway is one of Parker's favorite tracks on the NASCAR Busch Series (NBS) circuit. It is the site of his NBS debut in November, 1997. Starting 41st in a car fielded by Mark III Motorsports, Parker managed a 23rd-place finish in that race. Two of his 27 NBS career top-10 finishes have come at Homestead, with his best finish at the facility a fourth-place result in November 1999. In that event, Parker led a number of laps before running out of fuel in the closing laps of the race.

The No. 36 GNC Live Well Racing team is bringing chassis No. 11 to Homestead-Miami Speedway. This will mark the sixth time this season the car will be used. This chassis made its first appearance of 2002 at Nazareth Speedway, where Parker finished 24th. Parker drove chassis No. 11 to an eighth-place finish at Nashville Superspeedway in June, a 20th-place finish at The Milwaukee Mile in the same month, a 16th-place finish at Gateway International Raceway in July, and a 38th-place result at Indianapolis Raceway Park (IRP). The car has not been seen on-track since being severely damaged in an accident at IRP that also involved Shane Hmiel and Kerry Earnhardt. The car's body had to be replaced after that incident.

Hank Parker Jr. and his No. 36 GNC Live Well Racing team spent Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 28-29, at Homestead-Miami Speedway, testing in preparation for this weekend's Ford 300 NBS event.

"Everything about Homestead is the same, in terms of the track conditions and the tire Goodyear is providing us," crew chief Gary Cogswell said of the test. "The only difference is that we're using a Dodge instead of a Chevy this year. We were very pleased with the results of the test. We tried a lot of things that were away from normal for us, and a lot of it really seemed to work well. We tested when the weather was hot and the track was slick, which is really the kind of conditions you want. The new body we have on this chassis incorporates some of the things we've learned about the Dodge Intrepid throughout this season, so we feel like we've got some of the latest technology available to us on the track."


"There's no better track, in my opinion, on the NASCAR circuit. I'm biased, though, because I've had some success here. I don't think a top-five or a shot at the win is out of the question. The place owes me one, I think. We led a lot of laps there in 1999 until we ran out of gas near the end of the race. I remember that Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. pushed me down pit road with his car to help me get to my pit stall. My dad was yelling at me on the radio. He thought I was holding Dale Jr. up by being in the way. I had to explain the situation to him. It got a little heated."


"It's very much up in the air as to what I'll be doing next season. I've been holding out for GNC to see what they're going to do. They haven't said they're not coming back, but they haven't said they will be, either. They've been a great sponsor. We've had a tremendous relationship with them, and I want to continue that relationship if possible. It's getting late, though, so I've got to start looking at other options. I don't care which series I'm racing in next year, as long as I'm in a situation where I'm competitive every week and capable of running up front. I'm definitely looking."


"I think Homestead is the nicest track we race at on the Busch circuit. It's a very modern facility and the track surface is great. Plus, it doesn't hurt my feelings to go to South Florida in November, either. I think the way the backstretch is elevated it's got to be a great place to watch a race from the grandstands.

"I don't consider Homestead to be one of the 'cookie-cutter' 1.5-mile tracks like Kansas, Chicago, Kentucky, Atlanta and Charlotte. First, it's a true oval and secondly, it's very flat. It's a very forgiving track to drive. The speed is high enough that your aero package is important. You have to use a softer spring package, just because the flatness of the track doesn't give you much vertical downforce. The softer springs let the car sit down on the track more, which helps.

"I think you can kind of predict how races are going to play out at certain tracks, like Richmond, Pike's Peak, Las Vegas and here. At this track, it seems like you always see a caution come out before lap 40, then the next time you pit, it'll be under green flag conditions. I think that will be the case this time around."


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Drivers Kevin Harvick , Hank Parker Jr. , Shane Hmiel