BUSCH: Richmond II: Hank Parker Jr race notes

GNC Live Well Racing gets "lucky" in Richmond. -Hank Parker Jr. finishes seventh in Funai 250- RICHMOND, Va. (Sept. 9) - Hank Parker Jr. and the No. 36 GNC Live Well Racing team battled their way to a seventh-place finish under the lights ...

GNC Live Well Racing gets "lucky" in Richmond.
-Hank Parker Jr. finishes seventh in Funai 250-

RICHMOND, Va. (Sept. 9) - Hank Parker Jr. and the No. 36 GNC Live Well Racing team battled their way to a seventh-place finish under the lights in Friday night's Funai 250 NASCAR Busch Series (NBS) event at Richmond International Raceway.

The result marked the team's sixth top-10 finish of the 2002 season, and its first since winning at Pikes Peak International Raceway in late July.

After starting 20th in the 250-lap event, Parker and his team managed to avoid a number of accidents that led to 11 caution flags, tying the record for most cautions in a Richmond NBS event.

"That's typical Richmond," Parker said of the accidents. "There were a couple of wrecks that were way too close for comfort, but we got lucky and managed to stay out of trouble. I'm happy to come out of here with a top-10 finish and all four fenders on the car. This is the same chassis we finished sixth with here in the spring, so it's good for us to back that run up with another strong finish. The crew had great pit stops all night, and (crew chief) Gary Cogswell made some great calls. I can't complain about a top-10 finish at all."

When the race began, it took only two laps before the first yellow flag of the night flew. Parker's teammate, Casey Mears, spun and collected the cars of Scott Riggs, Kevin Grubb and Ron Hornaday.

By the lap 11 restart, the No. 36 was being shown in 18th position, and Parker was telling his crew that the car was "really, really loose."

As the air pressure in his car's tires increased, the handling on Parker's machine improved. Slowly working his way up through the field, Parker passed Todd Bodine to take over 13th position by lap 64.

The scariest moment of the race came a few laps later, when the No. 49 car of Derrike Cope hit the wall hard in turn two. Cope had to be helped from his battered machine by safety workers as NASCAR red-flagged the race to allow crews to assist Cope and clean up the wreckage.

When the race returned to yellow flag conditions and pit road was opened, almost every competitor elected to come in for service, including Parker. The GNC Live Well pit crew went to work on the No. 36, putting on four fresh Goodyear Eagles and taking two rounds of wedge out to try and alleviate a tight handling condition that had developed.

Restarting the event in the 17th position on lap 78, Parker began to move past his competition. By the time the next caution flag was shown for an incident on lap 100, Parker found himself in 14th position. Telling his crew the car was still a little tight in the middle and exit of the turns, Parker and crew chief Gary Cogswell discussed taking another round of wedge out of the left rear of their Dodge Intrepid on the next pit stop.

On lap 115, Parker passed the No. 46 of Ashton Lewis to take over the 13th position. A few laps later, Lewis and Jack Sprague made contact, resulting in a fiery crash that took the No. 46 out of contention. Parker passed the No. 98 of Kasey Kahne to take over 12th position as the caution flag was displayed.

Bringing his car back in for service, Parker's crew changed four tires, added fuel and made the wedge adjustment that had been discussed earlier. Several competitors elected not to pit, which put the No. 36 back to 16th position on the lap 139 restart.

In the green flag period that followed, Parker's machine was on a rail. By lap 142, he had taken over the 13th position, and moved into the top-10 with a pass on Stacy Compton on lap 149. Five laps later, Parker passed Tim Sauter to move up to eighth position, then claimed the seventh spot when Jimmy Spencer retired from the race with engine problems.

When Tim Fedewa's crash brought out another caution, Parker made his final pit stop of the night. With four fresh tires and fuel on his No. 36, Parker restarted the event in sixth place before a pass by Jeff Burton dropped him back to seventh on lap 220.

The lapped car of Kasey Kahne caused Parker some difficulties during the latter stages of the event. As Parker attempted to pass Kahne's No. 98, the two cars made slight contact, which resulted in Parker losing several positions. The two competitors touched again a few laps later, with Kahne almost turning sideways as Parker finally passed him.

Unfortunately, the contact pushed in a fender on Parker's Dodge Intrepid, which caused the car to "push" in the turns and resulted in slower lap times.

Greg Biffle passed Parker to take over the seventh position before the final caution period of the evening came with less than 10 laps remaining. Michael Waltrip elected to pit under yellow, allowing Parker to move back up to the seventh position, where he remained until the end of the race.

"It was a good night for us," crew chief Gary Cogswell said. "The crew did an awesome job on our pit stops and Hank drove the wheels off the car. We've been close to a top-10 finish a few times since we won in July, so it's a confidence booster to finally get another top-10 under our belts. Anytime you finish on the lead lap at Richmond, you've done something right."

The finish moves Parker up one spot to 13th in the NBS drivers' points standings, 170 points behind 12th-place Stacy Compton. Team owner Wayne Jesel also picked up one spot to 18th in the NBS owners' points listing.

The GNC Live Well team now gets to enjoy a rare weekend off before heading to Dover International Speedway in Delaware for the Sept. 21 NBS event at that facility.

The team will spend the off-week preparing for the final eight events of the 2002 season, with the goal of climbing into the top-10 in points before the end of the year.

"We're going to do everything we can to make it into the top-10," Parker said. "I've never finished in the top-10 in the Busch Series standings, so achieving that goal is very important to me. I want to do it not only for myself, but also for the guys on the team. They've worked extremely hard all year, and it would be a great way to finish the season."

The MBNA All-American Heroes 200 race will air live from Dover downs International Speedway on Saturday, Sept. 21, at 1 p.m. EDT on TNT (Turner Network Television) and MRN (Motor Racing Network) affiliates.

-jm-

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Jeff Burton , Derrike Cope , Todd Bodine , Jimmy Spencer , Greg Biffle , Hank Parker Jr. , Stacy Compton , Casey Mears , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Jack Sprague , Kevin Grubb , Scott Riggs , Kasey Kahne , Ashton Lewis