NASHVILLE, Tenn. (March 16, 1998) For most rookie competitors on the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division circuit, a short track event is a bit of a homecoming, returning to the type of event that made their reputation and got...
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (March 16, 1998) For most rookie competitors on the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division circuit, a short track event is a bit of a homecoming, returning to the type of event that made their reputation and got them their chance at the spotlight in NASCAR's most competitve division.
For Kevin Schwantz it was the exact opposite. Prior to this weekend's BellSouth Mobility/Opryland 320 his short track experience consisted of two 100 lap races at a flat 4/10th mile speedway in Adelaide, Australia. That's where the fun starts for Schwantz.
"Wow! What and experience!," Schwantz said. "I learned more today than I did at Daytona and Rockingham combined. The give and take required to run these events is incredible".
The highlight of the weekend was Schwantz's qualifying effort. With 53 cars on hand attempting to qualify, the Texas rookie turned in the 16th fastest overall time. "That was the fastest we had run all weekend by over two tenths of second", said Team Ryder crew chief C.R. Miller. "Kevin's been getting faster and faster the more track time he gets, we'll be fine."
When the green flag dropped on Sunday's race, Schwantz moved from 16th to 12th in the first few laps as the field began to settle in. Schwantz quickly began to learn that short track racing is a whole different ballgame as the veterans began to test the rookie and deliver some object lessons in how to hustle a NASCAR Busch Series car around a tight, half-mile track.
"I have to say I was expecting some contact, I just didn't know how much," Schwantz said. "You have got to be ready for it at any time here, these guys won't let you blink."
"We had a little brush with the wall, a spin off turn four and a little pushing and shoving by the veterans trying to test him out", Miller said. "But overall our guy did a good job, kept his nose clean and brought it home with all four fenders on it, not bad for a first try".
"I took a lot of notes out there today, hopefully I'll be able to learn from them and bring a much stronger effort to Bristol," Schwantz said.
By the day's end Kevin and Team Ryder had turned in a 32nd-place finish. Schwantz and Team Ryder return to action this Saturday at Darlington
Source: NASCAR Online