BUSCH: St Louis Curtis Markham Preview

Gateway's CarQuest 250 Beckons Markham CHARLOTTE, N.C., (July 28, 1999) - When Curtis Markham tested at Gateway International Raceway June 15-16 in preparation for this Saturday night's CarQuest 250, he turned an unofficial fast lap...

Gateway's CarQuest 250 Beckons Markham

CHARLOTTE, N.C., (July 28, 1999) - When Curtis Markham tested at Gateway International Raceway June 15-16 in preparation for this Saturday night's CarQuest 250, he turned an unofficial fast lap around the 1.25-mile oval in 33.466 seconds. That time shattered Shane Hall's track qualifying record of 33.998 seconds set in October of 1998. Since that June test, other NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division teams have tested at Gateway, but none have been able to top the unofficial mark set by Markham, leaving Markham's No. 29 Diamond Ridge Motorsports team with bragging rights heading into the CarQuest 250. "This is probably the best opportunity I've had to run up front," said Markham about his chances behind the wheel of the Graybar/Bussmann/Panduit Chevrolet at Gateway. "I've been kind of up-and-down over the last few years with some good runs and some bad runs. But all of the ingredients are here to change all that. We've got a good car and a good sponsor. Now, we just need to go out and do it." While Markham refers to his up-and-down years in the Busch Series, the 40-year-old Virginian is too unassuming to point out his 87 Late Model Stock victories in the NASCAR Winston Racing Series. Beginning in 1982, Markham terrorized the short tracks of the Southeast. En route to scoring 87 Late Model wins, Markham became a two-time track champion at Southside Speedway in Richmond, Va., a two-time track champion at Old Dominion Speedway in Manassas, Va., and a two-time winner of the prestigious Winston Invitational at Volusia County Speedway in Barberville, Fla. He also holds the record for most Late Model wins at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway with four. Ironically, the same year Markham began his Late Model career, NASCAR introduced the Winston Racing Series National Championship. Since 1982, Markham placed within the top-10 in the final Mid-Atlantic regional point standings six times (1982-10th, 1983-5th, 1984-5th, 1985-2nd, 1986-2nd, 1990-5th). While Saturday night short track racing certainly honed Markham's driving skill, it also sharpened his mechanical ability. Markham built his Late Model race cars from the ground up, and now that he's racing Busch, not much has changed. "Yeah, I pitched in and helped build this car for Gateway," said the soft-spoken father of two, "but really, everyone here at Diamond Ridge helped build this race car. If it runs good, we'll all take credit for it. The guys who work on the (No.) 4 car helped a bunch, and it was exciting for all of us to see the car perform so well when we tested." The No. 4 team with driver Jeff Purvis is the primary team of Diamond Ridge Motorsports, and along with their stablemates on the No. 29 crew, built Markham's Gateway car on the premise that it will become the measurement for which all of their other cars are built. "It's a Mike Laughlin inch-and-a-half drop-snout chassis," said Markham. "We took everything that we've learned from our other cars and put into this car. It's the best of the best. If this chassis package works well for us, then you'll know it'll be good for the (No.) 4 team with Jeff Purvis." It will also be good for the sponsors adorning the contours of the No. 29 Monte Carlo. Graybar and Cooper Bussmann are both St. Louis-based companies who are in their third year of team sponsorship for the Busch race at Gateway. Their first year came in the inaugural event, with Dale Shaw driving to a stellar third place finish. Last year, American Speed Association standout Scott Hansen made his Busch Series debut with Graybar/Bussmann colors, finishing a respectable 16th. This year, Graybar and Cooper Bussmann have involved the Tinley Park, Ill.-based Panduit Corporation with their sponsorship endeavor. "We're ready to put on a real good show for everyone at Graybar, Bussmann and Panduit," said Markham. "From the time we first hit the track to the end of the race, we plan to run up front and make our sponsors proud."

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Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Shane Hall , Jeff Purvis , Scott Hansen