MCFARLAND SAILS TO A 7TH-PLACE FINISH AT TALLADEGA COLLECTS FIRST TOP 10 FOR JR MOTORSPORTS' NAVY RACING TEAM TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 29, 2006) -- NASCAR Busch Series driver Mark McFarland and the No. 88 Navy Accelerate Your Life team...
MCFARLAND SAILS TO A 7TH-PLACE FINISH AT TALLADEGA
COLLECTS FIRST TOP 10 FOR JR MOTORSPORTS' NAVY RACING TEAM
TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 29, 2006) -- NASCAR Busch Series driver Mark McFarland and the No. 88 Navy Accelerate Your Life team finished seventh on Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway in the Aaron's 312, collecting both the driver and team's best-ever finish.
In collecting his first-ever top-10 finish, McFarland was also the highest-finishing Busch Series driver in a field with 15 full-time Nextel Cup Series drivers.
McFarland qualified 27th on Friday with a lap of 52.735 seconds, 181.587 mph. Despite the mid-field starting position, he and Crew Chief Rich Hubbs knew the car would run well in the draft and devised a strategy to take it easy for the first portion of the race and make a hard run at the end.
"We kind of took it easy there for a while," McFarland said. "We just tried to keep the fenders on it and then just tried to be there at the end."
The strategy paid off as McFarland missed the major accidents while running in the top 20 for much of the race. He never ran lower than his 27th-place starting position and posted the fastest lap time four times during the 117-lap race.
During the first part of the race McFarland radioed that the car was tight. A couple pit stops and a few adjustments later, he radioed that the car was perfect in the middle, which helped his late-race rally toward the front.
Team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr., a master of restrictor-plate racing, coached McFarland through the race from atop the pit box.
"I had the best coach on the pit box with Dale Jr.," McFarland said. "He said 'Stay in the middle lane and don't get out of it' and it paid off."
The seventh-place finish was McFarland's career-best finish and the best-ever finish for the JR Motorsports No. 88 Navy Accelerate Your Life Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS team. Their previous best finish was 15th in March at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
"That finish was huge for our team," McFarland said. "We've been struggling a little bit. We never thought we'd get our first top-10 at Talladega. I'm real proud of all the guys on this team and thankful for the support of the Navy."
"Mark did a good job behind the wheel today," Hubbs said. "Our game plan was to lay back a little and see where the car worked best and then go after it the last 20 laps, and it worked out great.
"The team is still really new, and to leave Talladega with a top-10 finish is huge for us."
The seventh-place finished moved McFarland up to 18th in the Busch Series driver points standings and the No. 88 team up two spots to 21st in the owners points standings.
For the second time in 2006, he picked up Raybestos Rookie of the Race honors and moved up to second in the Rookie points standings.
McFarland also picked up the Goody's Headache Powder Extra Strength Award and was named the Mobil 1 Oil Command Performance Driver of the Race.
JR Motorsports success did not end with McFarland's seventh-place finish on Saturday. McFarland and his team made it back to North Carolina just in time to see their JR Motorsports teammate Shane Huffman win the USAR Pro Cup race at Concord Motorsports Park in the No. 88 Champion/Navy Chevrolet.