Coca-Cola 300 Saturday notebook By Dave Rodman and Matthew Leach FORT WORTH, Texas (March 27, 1999) Some notes and quotes from the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division Coca-Cola 300 at Texas Motor Speedway. Adam Petty's day, which had...
Coca-Cola 300 Saturday notebook By Dave Rodman and Matthew Leach
FORT WORTH, Texas (March 27, 1999) Some notes and quotes from the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division Coca-Cola 300 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Adam Petty's day, which had a rather auspicious start, came to a disappointing and premature end when the rookie driver hit the wall in Turn 2 on lap 85. Petty started 5th after an excellent Bud Pole Qualifying effort on Thursday, and climbed as high as 2nd in the early going. It looked as though Texas might see another famous name in Victory Lane, following Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s 1998 win. But things started to unravel early for the driver of the No. 45 Chevrolet, as he brushed the wall and started drifting backward.
He finally lost it in a part of the track where many drivers have had trouble over the course of this weekend.
"This place is tough," crew chief Lance Deiters said. "It ain't like nobody else crashes here. They wrecked like 16 or 17 cars here. Veteran drivers. So it ain't like it's uncommon."
Petty, thoroughly disgusted with the incident, was unavailable for comment.
Matt Kenseth was threatening to turn the Coca-Cola 300 into a pretty boring affair. He wishes he had. Kenseth dominated the first half of the race, leading twice for 127 laps and at times jumping out to margins of four seconds. But some bad timing, and then some really bad timing, turned an easy afternoon at the office into a frustrating ordeal.
Shortly after Kenseth made his second of two scheduled pit stops, Casey Atwood and Jeff Krogh got tangled up, bringing out the 4th caution of the event. Kenseth, hoping to keep from going a lap down, ducked low but got onto the grass, and went sliding across the infield. The car was damaged, and Kenseth never got back on the lead lap. He finished 18th.
Confirming even further what was already pretty well known, Jack Roush said in the postrace news conference that Kenseth will drive a Mark Martin Racing car in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series next year. Roush said that DeWalt Tools would like to come along with Kenseth into NASCAR's top series. Roush also said that Kenseth will drive a Roush Racing car in five NASCAR Winston Cup Series races this year.
Roush said that Mark Martin Racing will work with Roush Racing much like Wood Brothers Racing and Brett Bodine Racing do. Roush will provide the team engines and chassis, but the outfit will be a separate team from the Roush stable.
Mike McLaughlin once again is making a quiet run at a NASCAR Busch Series championship. McLaughlin, who finished third in the points last year, posted his first top-5 of the season in Saturday's race. He entered the weekend 6th in the standings, and with the finish, he climbed to 4th -- 2nd among NASCAR Busch Series regulars. He might have finished even further forward had the rains not come, but he's not too disappointed with 3rd place.
"You never know," he said. "We're happy with what we had. There was a few cars we thought we were quicker than that were in front of us, but there might have been a couple behind us that were quicker. We'll take what we've got. Good day.
McLaughlin is hoping to strengthen his points position next week at Nashville Speedway USA, where he picked up his first win of 1998.
"I'm looking forward to the next race," McLaughlin said. "It was good to us last year, we can only hope it's that good this year."
Terry Shirley, crew chief of the No. 37 Brewco Motorsports Timber Wolf Chevrolet, was back in action at Texas after suffering chest pains and being hospitalized a week ago while in Darlington, S.C. Shirley played a key role in breaking a three-race non-qualifying streak by young driver Kevin Grubb, 20, and marshaled him into 25th at the finish. "It was worse being away from the race track than it was being run-down from being there," said Shirley, who admitted to being about '90 percent' this weekend. "We aren't learning anything about Kevin and he isn't learning anything about us if we don't make these races. We hope we can keep this going."
Tony Raines, driver of the No. 74 BACE Motorsports Chevrolet, was released from the local Harris Methodist Hospital Friday after he crashed in practice and suffered a concussion. He was back at the track but was replaced in the Coca-Cola 300 by Steve Grissom, who finished 40th after his car's engine failed after 71 laps.
Joe Buford, driver of the No. 7 Whitaker Racing Chevrolet, was released from North Hills Hospital in Richland Hills Friday. He had a bruised and strained left knee but was back at the speedway Friday afternoon.
Kevin Lepage, who has made the most of his early season run in what will be a limited season in the No. 99 Red Man Chevrolet Monte Carlo, was the first car out. "There's a heck of a vibration in the car," Lepage said. "The longer I run, the worse the vibration gets. This is a deal where if you've got a problem, you might as well get it fixed before you hurt the car or hurt someone else. We think we burned a transmission up or a rear end. It's unfortunate. The guys worked real hard on this Red Man Chevrolet. It's a short day here at Texas."
Joe Nemechek suffered a unique problem in his BellSouth Mobility Monte Carlo. "The right rear hub seal is broken," he said after retiring. "Believe it or not, we burned the wheel bearings up. Have never had that happen before. We've had fast race cars, but we just can't seem to finish right now. We just can't get that break."
Todd Bodine could only bite his lip after his Phillips 66 Chevrolet retired with engine failure. "Looks like a broken valve," he said tersely. "Mechanical failure. There's nothing we can do about it. This Phillips 66 Monte Carlo was running. We were biding our time -- taking our time. The race track's got one groove. Gotta be careful passing. We did what we had to do to get to the front. We got there and it blew up."
Todd's older brother, Brett Bodine, was a victim of someone else's accident in the debut of his limited program in the No. 54 Gold Bond Chevrolet owned by Jimmy Spencer. "It looks like we got a hole in the radiator," Bodine said. "That little mix up over there coming off of (Turn) 2. We ran into the back of Bobby Hillin, who was checking up for my nephew, Barry, who I guess had spun. It's just unfortunate for the Gold Bond Chevrolet. They're a great sponsor. This is their first experience in NASCAR racing. We're very proud to have them. Hopefully we can give them a better run next race in California. And, we're going to run Michigan and the two Charlottes with Jimmy Spencer's car."
Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate Hank Parker Jr. did well to soldier into 20th when, during the parade laps prior to the green flag, he had to pit his No. 53 B.A.S.S. Chevrolet due to a rear end leak. The crew reported that they cut the rear end pump and sent him back out prior to the green flag. As a result of the pit stop, Parker dropped to the rear for the start instead of his original 20th starting spot.
Larry Pearson, driver of the No. 00 Cheez-It Pontiac, pitted on lap 48 to change drivers. Spencer was the relief driver. Spencer received a stop and go penalty for exiting pit road too fast and eventually finished 30th.
Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 47 MONRO Muffler Brake & Service Chevrolet, went to the garage on lap 65 and was out of the race with engine problems. "This group of guys has a great group of cars, but our motor program is lacking," Sadler said. "Hopefully we can get the motor program together and start running better."
Later in the race, Elliott relief drove for his older brother Hermie when he experienced dizziness, and ultimately finished 32nd.
Rick Letendre, a crew member for the No. 64 Luxury Travel Motor Coaches Chevrolet driven by Barry Bodine, reportedly suffered a broken left foot during the race. The foot was put in a cast and he was released from the QualityCare Network Infield Care Center.
Source: NASCAR Online