BellSouth Mobility/Opryland 320 Sunday notes By Shawn A. Akers NASHVILLE, Tenn. (March 15, 1998) - Notes Sunday following the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division BellSouth Mobility/Opryland 320 at Nashville Speedway USA: ...
BellSouth Mobility/Opryland 320 Sunday notes By Shawn A. Akers NASHVILLE, Tenn. (March 15, 1998) - Notes Sunday following the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division BellSouth Mobility/Opryland 320 at Nashville Speedway USA: Two-time NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division champion Randy LaJoie still has not led a lap in four outings in 1998. Sunday's race, however, produced his best finish of the season, as the No. 74 placed fourth.
"We haven't had a good weekend yet, but this was definitely our best one to date," LaJoie said. "We had a pretty good week here, except for maybe qualifying yesterday. To come home in fourth in this race is a pretty good effort."
LaJoie qualified 23rd on Bud Pole Day on Saturday. He started the race in the middle of the pack, but methodically made his way through the field and ran in the top-10 throughout most of the second half of the race.
"All day we were trying our best to catch Casey Atwood," LaJoie said. "He seemed like the fastest car out there. We made some changes to the car (Sunday morning), the most we've done all week. They seemed to work."
LaJoie leaves Nashville with the points lead over Buckshot Jones, who finished 13th. LaJoie's best previous finish this season was fifth at Daytona; he also placed seventh at Rockingham. LaJoie leads Jones by 21 points heading to Darlington next weekend. It's been over three years since Robert Pressley has been to Victory Lane, and he certainly had his chances to get there Sunday. Those chances went straight down the tubes when his No. 59 Kingsford/Matchlight Chevrolet ran into the back of Mark Green, causing a three-car accident on lap 312.
Pressley, who led seven times for 104 laps, was leading at the time. Mike McLaughlin missed the wreck by going down low, and went on to win the race.
Jason Keller had a lot to celebrate on Sunday. Keller, in his unsponsored No. 57 Chevrolet, recorded his first top-five finish this season and his best finish in quite some time, coming home fifth.
"That was a solid run for us," Keller said. "I thought we had a good car for today, and we certainly proved that with a top-five. It was a good run, and maybe somebody will see this and say that that team is a good one and come on board with us."
Keller started 26th, but quickly moved up through the field. He even challenged for the lead in the late stages, but couldn't do much after the final pit stops.
"It's been a while since I've been up front, and I was really enjoying it there," Keller said. "The driver made an error on the last pit stop. I led the crew wrong, and the car got tight. That was my fault."
Cale Yarborough's NASCAR Winston Cup Series pit crew worked the pits for Keller and his team on Sunday. At times, Dale Earnhardt Jr. showed flashes of driving like his father during Sunday's race. He was aggressive but patient, and wound up getting his second-consecutive top-five, finishing third.
Earnhardt began the season with a 37th-place showing at Daytona, followed up with a 16th-place run at Rockingham, and finished runner-up to Jimmy Spencer at Las Vegas.
Source: NASCAR Online