Big A signs with Stegall Motorsports By Dave Rodman LOUDON, N.H. - Driver Shane Hall and Stegall Motorsports, bolstered by a full sponsorship deal for the rest of the 1998 NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division season, led their first...
Big A signs with Stegall Motorsports By Dave Rodman
LOUDON, N.H. - Driver Shane Hall and Stegall Motorsports, bolstered by a full sponsorship deal for the rest of the 1998 NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division season, led their first green flag laps in the competitive series in nearly a year in Saturday's Gumout Long Life Formula 200 at New Hampshire International Speedway.
The No. 85, which arrived at New Hampshire on Thursday painted in Big A Auto Parts' red-and-blue colors, will wear them for the final 20 races of the season after team owner Don Stegall and officials of Big A signed the paperwork in New Hampshire.
On Saturday, Hall started the race in 20th and did not move into the top-10 until he shuffled up through the field on an exchange of pit stops, into third place. He assumed the race lead under the fifth caution of the day and led for 18 laps.
"We decided to stay out and gamble," said Stegall, citing the skies that were mainly gray for three days, and which periodically spit small amounts of rain Saturday morning. "If it rained it would've been a great call, but we had a spring mount come loose."
And that wasn't the only thing that was loose.
"What we call the 'bird cage,' which holds the spring in place, came loose on the left rear and I was just hanging-on the rest of the way," Hall said of the loose car, which he pitted on lap 142. He ended up finishing 14th and moved up a spot in the point standings, to 17th.
Big A's sponsorship became available when Andretti-Laird Racing, which signed the deal, decided to re-organize its program following the ninth race of the season, the April 25 Touchstone Energy 300 at Talladega Superspeedway. While the two teams collaborated for the Gumout 200, Stegall said there would be no further affiliation between the two.
The situation catches Stegall's team as it ended its latest temporary sponsorship program, but while it's also on its hottest streak of the season. Hall has finished ninth, 12th and 14th in his last three races.
"I'm just tickled with what we've been able to accomplish, and to have Big A come on board with our team is great," said Hall, who last led a NASCAR Busch Series race on June 13, 1997 when he won the Bud Pole for the Winston 300 at South Boston Speedway and led 12 laps early in the race. He made 28 starts in 1997 and finished 23rd in points.
"We have made some changes in the team and we have gotten better and made a more competitive package. Getting this sponsorship takes some pressure off the guys because now we know we'll have something in place for the next race."
Stegall said Big A had an option to sponsor the team for the 1999 season as well. He said he believed the No. 96 team of Andretti-Laird would attempt to regroup its operation in hopes of returning to the series full-time in 1999 with another sponsor. He did not know if the team would attempt any other races this season.
"We want to build a quality program and given the situation and our results over the first nine races, it is not clear we've been moving the way we should," said a statement from Andretti-Laird Racing.
The team qualified for six of the first nine races with no less than five different drivers and was 35th in car owner points. Kyle Petty scored the team's best finish, 12th, in his only start, the Coca-Cola 300 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Stegall confirmed that IMPAC, Andretti-Laird Racing's marketing arm, will continue to provide full marketing support for APS, Inc., Big A's parent company, and the Big A Auto Parts program.
Source: NASCAR Online