BUSCH: Nazareth Post Race Notes

First Union 200 Sunday Notebook Dave Rodman NAZARETH, Pa. (May 17, 1998) Notes and quotes following the First Union 200 at Nazareth Speedway: Mike Stefanik, who won two NASCAR Touring Division championships in 1997 and racked up some ...

First Union 200 Sunday Notebook Dave Rodman

NAZARETH, Pa. (May 17, 1998) Notes and quotes following the First Union 200 at Nazareth Speedway:

Mike Stefanik, who won two NASCAR Touring Division championships in 1997 and racked up some frequent flyer miles while doing it -- sometimes traveling long distances between Featherlite Modified Series and Busch North Series Grand National Division venues -- was blessed with a pair of races in one place this weekend. While Stefanik won the FMS First Union 100, he finished 39th of 43 cars in the First Union 200 NASCAR Busch Series race after being knocked out of the event by a vibration.

"We were biding our time and moving up and all of a sudden something started vibrating, probably something in the rear end," Stefanik said. "It was just a matter of time before something was going to happen and we didn't want to end up looking like Randy LaJoie's car."

Morgan Shepherd, with his connection as the driver of the First Union Chevrolet in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, was Grand Marshal for the First Union 200. He flew from Concord, N.C., after competing in Saturday night's Winston Open, the preliminary to The Winston all-star race.

Jason Keller continues to make a strong case for a company to step up and sponsor the No. 57 Progressive Motorsports Chevrolet. Keller finished seventh in the First Union 200 and in the process moved into sixth in the NASCAR Busch Series points, but for the first time in five races the sides of the car were plain red. Progressive Business Manager Steve DeSouza said Justin Boots had not made a decision on whether to continue its program or not.

"In our opinion they still want to do it but they haven't been able to put all their business partners together as well as their marketing plan," DeSouza said. "We're looking at the big picture and long-term commitments. They're not ready to do that. It still might happen, but we felt like most people were of the perception that Justin was our full-time sponsor. From the big picture standpoint we wanted everyone to know we're available. We'd love to give Justin every opportunity, but the ball's in their court to figure out the marketing program. They have a good philosophy and they want to take their company to the next level with the help of NASCAR racing and our team, we hope. The upper management needs to figure out if they want to do it and make a decision."

Kingsford/Matchlight Chevrolet crew chief Steve Plattenburger said a simple misunderstanding about what fuel he had to have in his car led to Ron Hornaday's second-fastest Bud Pole Qualifying time being disallowed and knocking the car back to 43rd on the grid. The team was running Sunoco fuel, he said, but the bottom line was it didn't meet a baseline test that NASCAR administers regularly to all the top qualifiers. Hornaday charged through the field, advancing to 19th in the first 50 laps, but he eventually finished 23rd, three laps down.

"I'll tell you one thing," Plattenburger said before the race, "the fuel didn't put that car on the outside of the front row."

For his part, Hornaday showed why he's a team player as he said, "You know, it's probably better yet. So I'm not up front, taking somebody else's points and maybe getting into a tangle up. So it's just going to give me at least 20 or 30 laps of racing with these guys. Then, hopefully I'll get enough experience of how these guys run that by the end of the race I can be up front racing with them for the lead. We've discussed things and we've got a good crew. They've been practicing their pit stops a lot and they've told me to get out there and get half the spots and we'll get you the other half in the pits."

Dale Earnhardt Jr. showed a racer's focus on Sunday morning, anticipating his second Bud Pole start this season, more than showing undue concern for his father's condition after a heavy accident in The Winston all-star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday night.

"I watched the race on TV and saw the wreck, but after that I fell asleep," Earnhardt Jr. said. "I didn't even see the end of the race. I haven't talked to him (Earnhardt) and probably won't. I'll just see him when I get home tonight. So, I don't know whether he has any broken bones or really what his condition is."

First Union 100 Bud Pole Award winner Tim Connolly of Endicott, N.Y., was airlifted to Lehigh Valley Hospital Center for evaluation of a possible head injury as well as internal injuries. Nazareth Speedway Director of Public Relations Bryan Shelton reported later that doctors anticipated Connolly being released later Sunday evening. Shelton said Connolly, who was semi-conscious after the accident, was airlifted primarily due to traffic congestion around the race track. After undergoing an MRI and other tests, the most serious injury he suffered was a ligament strain to his thumb.

Source: NASCAR Online

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Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jason Keller , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Morgan Shepherd