BUSCH: Sparta: Hank Parker Jr. preview

LAST RACE (Inside Traxx 300) - Hank Parker Jr. and the No. 36 GNC Live Well Racing team scored its fourth top-10 finish of the 2002 season with an eighth-place result at Nashville Superspeedway. After starting 17th, Parker battled a loose handling...

LAST RACE (Inside Traxx 300) - Hank Parker Jr. and the No. 36 GNC Live Well Racing team scored its fourth top-10 finish of the 2002 season with an eighth-place result at Nashville Superspeedway. After starting 17th, Parker battled a loose handling condition throughout the event. The closing laps of the race found Parker racing side-by-side with his friend Shane Hmiel. Parker finally passed Hmiel for the eighth position with less than four laps remaining.

LAST RACE AT KENTUCKY - The No. 36 GNC Live Well Racing team barely missed out on a top-10 finish last year at the Kentucky Speedway, finishing 11th in the inaugural NASCAR Busch Series event at the facility. An electrical problem that cropped up during happy hour left the team scrambling to get the problem repaired in time to get the car through inspection and out to the starting grid. The crew made it with less than one hour to spare before the start of the event.

STANDINGS - Parker is 12th in the NASCAR Busch Series Drivers' Points Standings and team owner Scott Welliver holds the 15th spot in the owners' points standings.

THE CAR - The No. 36 GNC Live Well Racing team is bringing chassis "No. 19" to Kentucky Speedway. One of five new chassis the team has taken delivery of since the end of the 2001 season, "No. 19" was driven by Hank Parker Jr. in 2002 Busch Series events at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, California Speedway and Lowe's Motor Speedway earlier this year. Parker's best finish with this car is a 13th-place result in the Auto Club 300 at California Speedway in April.

D.W. HAD BETTER WATCH OUT - Hank Parker Jr. may have found a second career. Parker joined Steve Byrnes and Jeff Hammond in the booth as a color commentator for the NASCAR All Pro Series event at Nashville Superspeedway last Friday night. Parker was the resident All Pro "expert," having won four races during two seasons of All Pro Series competition in 1996-97.

"I was talking to Steve (Byrnes) on the plane to Nashville last Thursday, and he remembered that I had raced in the All Pro Series," Parker said. "He told me I ought to join him in the booth sometime. I said, 'How about tomorrow night?' I couldn't believe they went for it. I have a whole new appreciation now for what those guys go through during a race. You're trying to focus on what you're saying and trying to sound intelligent, and you've got the producer talking to you in one ear and other people talking in the other ear. There's a lot more to it than I thought.

"I even got to do my impression of Darrell Waltrip. They let me say 'Boogity-boogity-boogity' at the start. I don't think I did it justice, though, so I did it again a little later on in the race. I heard D.W. wants me to know you're only allowed one 'Boogity' moment per race. See, I learned something right there. I guess I used up my quota of 'Boogities.' I'll try and do better this week, D.W."

Parker, along with pit reporter Jason Keller, will again join the Speed Channel broadcast team for this weekend's All Pro Series race at Kentucky Speedway.

KENTUCKY FEELS LIKE HOME - Hank Parker Jr. is actually a part-time resident of the Bluegrass state. He, along with his father, brother and fellow driver Lyndon Amick, lease hunting land in the southeastern part of the state. The group spends several weeks a year here on the lookout for white-tailed deer. Parker says he is so fond of the area, he's considered moving here full time.

"I absolutely love Kentucky," Parker said. "It's a really beautiful state. The area where our land is located is really mountainous. The scenery will take your breath away. The people are very laid-back, which is cool. They don't seem to worry about much. Visiting here really recharges my batteries. It's just so peaceful. We've got an old house that we've refurbished, but it's barely even got running water. There's no telephone, so no one can reach us. That's exactly what I'm looking for when I come up here. I would love to move here when I retire someday. Kentucky is a little slice of heaven to me."

HANK PARKER JR. ON KENTUCKY SPEEDWAY- "I feel like a broken record because I always say this, but I love the wide, flat tracks. Places like Kentucky, Las Vegas, Homestead and California just seem to suit my driving style. I got my first win at California and I've run up front at Homestead quite a bit. We barely missed out on a top-10 last year here, so I'm pretty confident we can be a contender this time around.

"The crowds here are awesome. It's amazing to see 75,000 people come out to a stand-alone Busch Series race. The track is a first-class facility, too. I know they'd like to have a Winston Cup date, and I think they're going about getting one in the right way. The fan support shows that NASCAR is hot in Kentucky. They'd sell out a Winston Cup date here in a heartbeat. If they could work it out on the scheduling, I'd love to race here twice a year in the Busch Series."

CREW CHIEF GARY COGSWELL ON KENTUCKY SPEEDWAY- "They repaved the track since last year, which will change the setup that it's going to take to be successful here, particularly in the shock department. I talked with Donnie (Richeson, crew chief for the No. 66 of Casey Mears) and he said that the track isn't that much different than it was last year. He did say that it takes about 10 laps for the tires to really come in, which is interesting.

"Goodyear is bringing the same tire compound that we used in Texas earlier this season. To me, the Texas tire is a much harder compound than you need at Kentucky. Texas Motor Speedway is much more banked than Kentucky Speedway. I think that the Darlington tire compound would work better, but we'll have to deal with what they bring."

ON THE RESULTS OF THE WIND TUNNEL TEST NASCAR PERFORMED ON THE NO. 36 DODGE INTREPID EARLIER THIS WEEK - "I haven't seen the results from the other car makes they took to the wind tunnel, but I'm guessing that NASCAR is not going to make any rule changes. I think they're pretty satisfied that all the makes are close enough in terms of competitiveness right now. I don't agree, but what can you do? This is a situation where it would be nice to have several other teams using Dodges in the Busch Series, just so we wouldn't be the only ones lobbying for a change."

-wjm-

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Darrell Waltrip , Jason Keller , Hank Parker Jr. , Casey Mears , Lyndon Amick , Shane Hmiel