BUSCH: Schwantz Gets Homs Stae Backing

Home state backs Schwantz By Dave Rodman TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 24, 1998) Former motorcycle world champion Kevin Schwantz has gotten a crash course -- literally -- in NASCAR team ownership, since taking control of his NASCAR Busch Series Grand...

Home state backs Schwantz By Dave Rodman

TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 24, 1998) Former motorcycle world champion Kevin Schwantz has gotten a crash course -- literally -- in NASCAR team ownership, since taking control of his NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division team in March.

But he thinks things are looking up after he signed what's a one-race deal at this point with the Texas Division of Tourism to sponsor his No. 88 Lone Star Motorsports Chevrolet in Saturday's Touchstone Energy 300 at Talladega Superspeedway.

A scant few hours after he explained his goals and desires for ownership of his own stock car team, the owner/driver from Paige, Texas, got in touch with one of the sport's harsh realities on March 28 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

He loaded a wrecked Chevrolet race car and went home, without even making an attempt to qualify for the Moore's Snacks 250.

After that he had to endure the bitter disappointment of failing to qualify for his home state race, the Coca-Cola 300 at Texas Motor Speedway. Then, his primary sponsor, Ryder Driver Recruiting, a company involved in the trucking industry, failed to complete its planned program.

Schwantz came to Alabama with a clean, black race car and a lot of disgust. But although his short-term hopes of a Raybestos Rookie of the Year title have been somewhat tempered, his long-term goal of winning a race this season has not.

"I'll tell you what, I felt a lot better when I could just drive it and didn't even know about the finances of it," said Schwantz of his sponsor troubles. "As out of hand as they had gotten we had to at least get in there and at least know what was going on -- we were being told so many different things."

All was not lost with Ryder, which maintains a national vendor network.

"They're going to continue to give us the truck (race car transporter) and the fuel and all the service they give us at their Ryder depots," Schwantz said. "As far as dollars go, we're not really sure if they're going to make a commitment to do anything out of their own pocket or through the business.

"We've got a deal with the state of Texas and the board of tourism for this event. They're just going to feel it out this weekend and see what kind of response they get from it. Being a network race we hope they do get a good response and if they do there might be some funding for the rest of this season anyway."

Schwantz stood on his first round Bud Pole Qualifying time Friday and will start 30th in the 43-car field.

"It's a trial thing for them," he said. "We hope to get them plenty of air time and some good exposure. They'll be watching the phone so we need everybody calling 1-800-8888-TEX."

After this weekend, Schwantz and his team will weight their options.

"We're going to wait and see," he said. "We've got an open test at Charlotte on Tuesday. We've got Galaxy Pre-Paid Phone Cards that's continued to support us as an associate sponsor. The more places we get them in to sell pre-paid phone cards the more money they give the race team. We've got to keep on working, working, working, because otherwise most everything is coming out of my own pocket. We're kind of playing it by ear."

Schwantz, a 33-year-old Texas native who won the world 500cc grand prix motorcycle championship in 1993, made a decision last year to go NASCAR racing last year. Until March he called his motor coach parked on the lot of the team's shop in Mooresville, N.C., home. That month, he offered an acceptable buy-out deal to partners David and Karen Ridling that ended their 18-month alliance.

Schwantz, who won 25 World Championship Grand Prixes and the 1988 Daytona 200 By Arai, another of the world's biggest two-wheeled racing events, now finds himself directing what he calls one of the "top-10 teams in Busch Grand National racing."

"I want to be the only man to win the (Daytona) 200, 300 and the 500," said Schwantz, who has a big leg up thanks to his 1988 victory in the 200-mile motorcycle event. "If Dale (Earnhardt) ever gets on a bike, we're in trouble, though."

For right now, he'd settle for winning a NASCAR Busch Series race, and thinks it could happen.

"I'd love to win a race, and the rookie of the year is something the team has its sights set on," said Schwantz before his sponsor situation erupted. "If we don't achieve either one, it'll be a letdown. We'll be trying to find out where we went wrong or how we got sidetracked.

"If we get a win it'll be at one of the bigger tracks. We've run well at California, Homestead, Daytona ... At Vegas we thought we'd be strong. The schedule is long enough that we're not going to get too excited at this point.

"It's got to be the team that has led to our success. As little experience as I have ... (12-13 races in Australia and some 2-liter and V8 touring car races.) It's got to be the cars that they're preparing and putting underneath me. They're trying hard to find out what I like in a race car. My motorcycle experience allows me to tell them what I don't like, but what I'm having the hardest time with is figuring out how to describe what the car is doing and what I need and what we need to change."

The core of the team, including crew chief C.R. Miller, has been there since 1995.

Source: NASCAR Online

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