Coca-Cola 300 Saturday Notebook By Shawn A. Akers FORT WORTH, Texas (April 4, 1998) Some notes and quotes from the NASCAR Busch Series Grand Division Coca-Cola 300 at Texas Motor Speedway Saturday. Talk about your deja vu, strange ...
Coca-Cola 300 Saturday Notebook By Shawn A. Akers
FORT WORTH, Texas (April 4, 1998) Some notes and quotes from the NASCAR Busch Series Grand Division Coca-Cola 300 at Texas Motor Speedway Saturday.
Talk about your deja vu, strange coincidence, or whatever you want to call it. Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s victory in Saturday's race came in just his 16th career NASCAR Busch Series start.
As a rookie, his father, Dale Earnhardt Sr., got his first NASCAR Winston Cup Series victory in his 16th career start as well.
"He used his head all day and ran a great race," the elder Earnhardt said. "I couldn't be more proud of him."
"I don't really think about that (carrying on the family racing name)," Earnhardt Jr. said. "I'm just so proud of my family and real proud to be involved with my father in racing and be a driver for him. It's a good relationship we have. Winning with this team in front of my father ... It's important to me. I'm proud of my father and grandfather and what they've done. I'm just glad I'm able to be successful at it, too."
With his victory, Earnhardt Jr. vaulted to the top of the NASCAR Busch Series point standings after seven races. The driver of the No. 3 ACDelco Chevrolet vaulted to the top of the list with 1,006 points, followed by Elliott Sadler (981), Mike McLaughlin (953), Matt Kenseth (952), and Randy LaJoie (902).
LaJoie, the two-time defending NASCAR Busch Series champion, has remained consistent this year, but you could hardly call his performances in 1998 spectacular. LaJoie finished sixth in Saturday's race, his fourth top-10 showing of the season, but he's yet to either win a race or lead a lap in the first seven races.
LaJoie did, however, come all the way from the 43rd starting spot to finish in the top-10 on Saturday.
"We started bad and we ended good," said the driver of the No. 74 Fina Chevrolet. "The team did a good job. They came up with a strategy pit stop and it paid off for us. We ended up sixth. I am glad it's over."
Sadler followed last week's victory at Bristol Motor Speedway up with a solid second-place run in the Coca-Cola 300 in his No. 66 Phillips 66 Chevrolet. The Bud Pole winner led the first 17 laps and led twice for 18 laps throughout the 200-lap event.
"We got close," Sadler said. "We are wearing the bridesmaid dress this weekend. This is one of the hardest tracks on the circuit. To get the pole, I call that an accomplishment. It was an exciting finish. I had a front row seat for most of it and I had a good time watching and racing. It was good that the race ended under the green for the fans. This is really a fast place and I am just glad the car is in one piece."
A few others, unfortunately, couldn't say that on Saturday. A total of 11 drivers were knocked out due to accidents of one sort or another, with the first one coming on just the second lap when Joe Bessey and Doug Reid III got together on the frontstretch. Also involved in crashes were Wayne Grubb, Patty Moise, Matt Hutter, Jimmy Foster, Jeff Purvis, Hermie Sadler, Dave Blaney, Jimmy Spencer and Dale Jarrett.
Earnhardt Jr. became the seventh different winner in the NASCAR Busch Series this year in just seven races. Other winners have been Joe Nemechek, Matt Kenseth, McLaughlin, Bobby Labonte, Spencer and Elliott Sadler. Nemechek, Labonte and Spencer are all NASCAR Winston Cup Series regulars.
Phil Parsons had one of his strongest runs of the year in the No. 10 Dura-Lube Chevrolet. Parsons finished fourth and put himself in a position to win at the end for the first time this season.
We're pretty happy with everything, and our crew has been working awfully hard lately," Parsons said. "It's about time we had a small change of luck. To get that strong of a finish out of qualifying 22nd does make you feel good. We're happy. The track was fine and we had a really good car today."
Source: NASCAR Online