RICHMOND, Va. (May 14, 1999) Notes and quotes following Friday night's NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division Hardee's 250 at Richmond International Raceway: At a news conference Friday afternoon in the infield media center, it...
RICHMOND, Va. (May 14, 1999) Notes and quotes following Friday night's NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division Hardee's 250 at Richmond International Raceway:
At a news conference Friday afternoon in the infield media center, it was announced that Jelly Belly brand gourmet jelly beans would become an associate sponsor of the Washington Erving Motorsports NASCAR Busch Series team with driver Mark Green. The car's primary sponsor is Dr Pepper, and not coincidentally the company unveiled a Dr Pepper flavor jelly bean. The association is for a "year at a time" and began with Friday night's Hardee's 250. Jelly Belly is a product of the Herman Goelitz Candy Co. of Fairfield, Calif. The company also sponsors a Featherlite Southwest Series, NASCAR Touring, car driven by Jim Inglebright, who won the stock car portion of the annual Copper World Classic in Phoenix in February.
"NASCAR is the closest thing to football as a team sport that I've been around," said team co-owner Joe Washington, a former NFL star. "We are very fortunate to have him (Green). He is a consummate professional. He knows what he's doing in the car and is just a great person. We're lucky to have him and Jelly Belly."
It was a rough night for a couple of the points leaders, particularly defending champion Dale Earnhardt Jr., but also Elton Sawyer and Jason Keller. On the flip side of the coin, it was a great night for Matt Kenseth, Jeff Green and Todd Bodine. Kenseth unofficially took the point lead by 84 points as he took a huge bite out of Earnhardt's lead for the second week in a row. While Kenseth finished 3rd, Earnhardt's ACDelco Chevrolet was involved in an accident for the second week in a row and finished 32nd -- following up last week's 34th.
"They wrecked in front of me and I just couldn't get through there," he said of an accident on about lap 156. The crew jumped in en masse -- including Earnhardt who wielded a mean sledgehammer -- and replaced the rear end housing and did massive body work. However, a short time after rejoining the fray, Earnhardt was on the sidelines.
"We had to put a new rear-end in there and with about 10 laps to go, it burned up on us," he said. "By then, though, we had gained all the spots that we were gonna gain. It was no big deal, though. I don't really know where we finished."
Elliott Sadler was another who could've been disgusted, after he lost "the best car I've ever had at Richmond" in the same accident as Earnhardt. The mishap appeared to start when Jeff Krogh either got crossed up or was run into by another car. When the spinning, crashing and banging was through, Sadler and Earnhardt had basically been eliminated, although they turned a few more laps each, while Steve Grissom's Air Jamaica Vacations Chevrolet was crushed. "It looked like a lapped car got into the 22 (Grissom) -- the lapped cars were racing kind of hard out there," Sadler said. "It's just such a shame because this is my home track and these guys had given me the best race car I ever had here at Richmond. I thought we were heading for a top-5 finish."
It looked like Sadler almost went over on his roof after Grissom slammed the outside wall, then turned left into the middle of traffic.
"I thought I was gonna flip. Thank God I didn't," said Sadler, cheerful despite the misfortune. "I hate it for these guys, because I was just trying to get them some points and I thought we were heading for a good finish."
Jeff Purvis timed his wreck perfectly. The No. 4 Chevrolet wrecked after taking the checkered flag in 9th, and Purvis was lucky to escape without getting drilled by any of the packed group of cars that followed him across the line.
For a time, Bobby Hillin Jr. revisited some of his better days in the NASCAR Busch Series in his Sparkle Towels Chevrolet. He led 17 laps and finished 12th, falling back at the end of the race. "It felt really great, it did, finally to be running back up front with them guys," Hillin said. "It really did feel good. We got out of sync on our pit stops with some tire troubles. I got tight at the end and was running up high, but I was skating the wheels. At least it was a step in the right direction for this team. We're really trying pretty hard to get this thing going in the right direction."
Source: NASCAR Online