BUSCH: Milwaukee: Hank Parker Jr. race report

Engine problems hamper GNC Live Well Racing in Milwaukee, WEST ALLIS, Wis. (June 30) - After working his way into the top-10 during Sunday's GNC Live Well 250 NASCAR Busch Series (NBS) race, an engine problem in his No. 36 Dodge relegated Hank...

Engine problems hamper GNC Live Well Racing in Milwaukee,

WEST ALLIS, Wis. (June 30) - After working his way into the top-10 during Sunday's GNC Live Well 250 NASCAR Busch Series (NBS) race, an engine problem in his No. 36 Dodge relegated Hank Parker Jr. to a 20th-place finish at the Milwaukee Mile.

After starting 26th, Parker had steadily advanced through the field of competitors to assume the eighth position before the engine problem cropped up around lap 170 of the 250-lap event.

"The car was handling better than it had all day," Parker said. "I could feel that something had gone wrong in the motor, but (crew chief Gary Cogswell) told me to hang in and ride it out. Even with the motor problem, our lap times didn't drop off that drastically. I slowed down just enough that a few guys got around me at the end. It's frustrating, because we had a car capable of a top-five finish today."

The GNC Live Well pit crew provided strong support for Parker during Sunday's event. The team picked up a total of 12 spots through fast work on pit road.

On the team's first stop around lap 50, Parker came into the pits in 23rd place, but exited pit road being shown in the 15th position.

On the team's second stop, Parker came down pit road in 17th place and came out in 13th.

"Our pit stops have really come along," crew chief Gary Cogswell said. "I can't say enough about how hard our crew guys have worked on improving their pit stop times, and it showed today. For them to pull off fast stops in the heat they worked in today is even more impressive. I'm very proud of them."

The Milwaukee heat wreaked havoc on a number of drivers during Sunday's event. Reports indicated that the track temperature soared to over 125 degrees, while local weathermen pegged the air temperature at around 95 degrees. Several drivers were helped from their cars after the race, while at least one team called on a relief driver to step in and help out.

Luckily for Parker, the heat didn't really affect him as much as it did other competitors.

"For whatever reason, it wasn't that bad for me," Parker said. "The unit that blows cool air in my helmet broke down pretty early on, so it took me a little while to adjust to that. Other than that, everything was fine. The crew did a great job of giving me water and ice packs during our pit stops, and I made sure to really stay hydrated before the start of the race."

Parker says that he's learned a few tips on how to survive the heat from fitness experts that work with GNC Live Well, the vitamin and nutritional supplement retailer that serves as the primary sponsor of Parker's No. 36 team.

"I've learned that you can't just drink a lot of fluids the morning of the race because your body won't absorb it in time," Parker said. "The people at GNC have taught me to start hydrating myself at least two days ahead of time. That way, you don't have to chug a bunch of water the morning of the race. It's just a lot healthier to do it the way they've taught me.

"I've also been doing a lot of cardio with my wife, Wendy. She's all about fitness and eating right, and it's really paid off for me. She pushes me to workout a lot harder and a lot more regularly than I would on my own, and it shows. My endurance is so much better than it has been in the past."

The mid-pack finish, coupled with strong runs by several competitors, dropped Parker to 17th in the NBS drivers' points standings.

Next up for the No. 36 GNC Live Well team is the Stacker 2/GNC Live Well 250 NBS event at Daytona International Speedway in Florida. That race will air live on the FX Network and MRN on Friday, July 5, at 7 p.m. EDT.

-wjm-

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Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Hank Parker Jr.