Jiffy Lube Miami 300 Saturday Notebook By Dave Rodman HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Nov. 14, 1998) Note and quotes leading up to Sunday's Jiffy Lube Miami 300 at the Miami-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex: "Mr. Excitement," Jimmy Spencer, posted...
Jiffy Lube Miami 300 Saturday Notebook By Dave Rodman
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Nov. 14, 1998) Note and quotes leading up to Sunday's Jiffy Lube Miami 300 at the Miami-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex:
"Mr. Excitement," Jimmy Spencer, posted the fastest lap in a 50-minute "Happy Hour" final practice Saturday afternoon in preparation for Sunday's Jiffy Lube Miami 300 NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division race at the Miami-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex. Spencer's lap of the 1.5-mile flat oval in 36.699 seconds was an average speed of 147.143 mph in his No. 12 Zippo Chevrolet. "The track's in great shape and we had it running pretty good," said a confident Spencer. "We've been down here twice and we ran pretty good, we got a pretty good starting spot (seventh) so we hope everything goes smooth for us tomorrow -- we feel like we can be up front."
Dale Earnhardt Jr. proved his dream of winning the NASCAR Busch Series championship and the season finale might be within reach when he clocked the second-best lap in his backup ACDelco Chevrolet, 146.843 mph. Earnhardt Jr. will start 14th on Sunday. "This car is very comfortable and we feel like we've got as good a chance to win as we did coming into the weekend," he said of his high hopes before he wrecked his primary car in Friday's second practice. "Things look good. We're just going to go out there and get the start of the race out of the way and clinch the championship title . . . and then work hard to win the race."
Rounding out the top-five drivers in the final practice were Kevin Lepage, Mike McLaughlin and NASCAR Winston Cup refugee Johnny Benson. The only incident in the practice occurred when Buckshot Jones, who wrecked his primary Bayer/Alka-Seltzer Pontiac in the first practice on Friday, spun without contact late in the session.
Geoff Bodine was on hand to watch his son, Barry, qualify for his first NASCAR Busch Series start in the Prime Performance/Miccosukee Indian Gaming Chevrolet. Barry Bodine will start next to his uncle, Todd Bodine, but his father expressed some concern for that. "I wish it was me out there sitting next to him," said the elder Bodine, who has expressed an interest of running some NASCAR Busch Series races next season. "We're just proud of both teams, but I'm especially proud of Barry. It's his first start in the Busch Series and that's a big jump from the truck series. "He's handled the pressure well and the competition here is absolutely fantastic -- very, very tough. So to go out there and turn the lap he did and make the race -- that's something he needs to be very proud of, and all of us to be proud of."
NASCAR Busch Series newcomer Jimmie Johnson was sadly on foot for most of Happy Hour after his Curb Records Chevrolet apparently dropped a valve on its "second or third lap" of the session. Team-conscious Johnson was more concerned about his hard-working crew than he was for his lost practice time. "We had practiced well yesterday but with the accidents and the track changes were a little off for qualifying," he said. "We went back to where we were yesterday, today for second-round qualifying and were in the field no problem. We're comfortable about the amount of track time we've gotten -- I just hate it for the crew because they've been working real hard this weekend."
Adam Petty got over the "first race jitters" at making his Homestead debut by posting a lap in second-round qualifying that locked-in the 33rd starting position for his Spree/Sprint Chevrolet. Afterward he said "That's what we should've run yesterday. We just went out too early yesterday and couldn't run that fast . . . but I don't know, it could've just been me being too nervous. Now we can get ready to race." Petty expects to be able to announce his 1999 plans soon.
Former NASCAR Busch Series Rookie of the Year Jeff Fuller will make his first NBS start as a car owner on Sunday, rolling off 27th in the No. 94 Chevrolet. "We had an awful fast car yesterday, but the driver messed up," Fuller said of the effort of his four-man crew. "This car is brand new and had never turned a lap, so I'm really proud of the four guys on my crew. We're racing this car on a shoestring and we stayed awake two days and two nights getting this thing together. I'm really proud of the guys and the effort they put forward -- they had a lot of confidence in me, so we'll see what happens about next year."
Add Joe Nemechek and Freddie Query to the list of qualifying wreckees from Friday . . . and John Preston to Saturday's second-round qualifying list. Preston wiped out his Fiberall/Allerest Ford against the same unforgiving turn four concrete that claimed Dale Earnhardt Jr. on Friday, but unfortunately for him, he was out of the field on account of the crash. Gus Wasson's Chris Hoiles Motorsports team had to withdraw after Wasson crashed in Bud Pole Qualifying Friday.
Mark Krogh of Kamiah, Idaho, was taken to Homestead Hospital on Friday afternoon after he crashed on his first lap in Bud Pole Qualifying. He suffered a fractured scapula (should blade) and was released after treatment on Friday. The team withdrew the No. 80 Clearwater Forest Industries Chevrolet due to the younger Krogh brother's injuries.
Stanton Barrett, who's looking for a NASCAR Busch Series ride for 1999, stepped up his game on Saturday morning by running the fastest lap in the one-hour third practice, 36.530 seconds, an average speed of 147.824 mph, in the Dr Pepper Ford. Rounding out the top-five were Jimmy Spencer and three drivers who were going to have to re-qualify: Dick Trickle, John Preston and Jimmie Johnson.
Matt Kenseth's hopes of going out of the 1998 season a winner were torpedoed when the oil pump on his LYCOS.COM Chevrolet failed at the beginning of the one-hour morning practice before qualifying. Kenseth got no practice, failed to qualify and will start 37th after taking the first provisional position. "We had an oil pump go bad during the very first lap of practice so we didn't get to practice at all," said Kenseth, who added that he was looking forward to Happy Hour to see where his Reiser Enterprises team stood. He found out it might not be too great since the team was mired in 24th after Happy Hour.
Leading Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate Andy Santerre was another who Homestead had completely befuddled. He wrecked his primary car in qualifying, had to take a provisional starting position and line up 43rd and was slowest in Happy Hour. "We're obviously doing something wrong," understated the driver of the MONRO Muffler Brake & Service Chevrolet. "We just don't have it together at all. We've changed cars, we've changed motors, we've changed just about everything we can think of, but we're missing it . . . I just wish I knew what it was."
Goody's Dash Series, NASCAR Touring driver Will Hobgood lost his mother-in-law the week of the season finale Pennzoil 50 when his wife, Loraine's mother Doris Nell Doss passed away on Nov. 9. Services were conducted before the teams arrived at Homestead for the event, and the Hobgoods' son Jake dedicated his Bud Pole Award Saturday to Mrs. Doss' memory. The family requested that memorials be made to: Bible Church of Good Fellowship; Box 33; Bluff Road; Columbia, SC 29201.
On tap on Sunday morning will be the expected announcement of Lysol as the sponsor of Elton Sawyer's as well as the release of Brewco Motorsports NBS driver; along with an announcement by seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion Richard Petty.
Steven Howard had the joy at winning his first race in the Slim Joe All Pro Series, a part of the NASCAR Touring Division, turn to sorrow when his Greer Flooring/Trucks and More Chevrolet was disqualified following the Greased Lightning 150 Saturday when its intake manifold was found to be illegal in post-race inspection. That elevated Schrader Racing driver Scott Hansen in the Budweiser Chevrolet into first. Derrick Gilchrist, Sean Studer, season champ Freddie Query and Coy Gibbs rounded out the top-five.
Rich Bickle warmed up for Sunday's Jiffy Lube Miami 300 -- as well as for next year's NASCAR Winston Cup race here -- by running sixth in the Greased Lightning 150 in a Victor Ford Sales/Kinetic Racing Engines Ford owned by Rich Waters. Bickle will drive his own Turbine Solutions Ford in Sunday's event and start 31st.
Source: NASCAR Online