BUSCH: Texas Thursday Notebook

By Shawn A. Akers FORT WORTH, Tex. (April 2, 1998) Some notes and quotes from Texas Motor Speedway and the NASCAR Winston Cup Series Texas 500 and NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division Coca-Cola 300 on Thursday. ...

   By Shawn A. Akers
   FORT WORTH, Tex. (April 2, 1998)

Some notes and quotes from Texas Motor Speedway and the NASCAR Winston Cup Series Texas 500 and NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division Coca-Cola 300 on Thursday. Gary DeHart has resurfaced. And at the NASCAR Winston Cup Series level. Not as crew chief, mind you, but as a "consultant" for the No. 4 Kodak Max Film Chevrolet team and driver Bobby Hamilton. DeHart was in Fort Worth on Thursday, for the first day of practice for Sunday's Texas 500. Back in February, DeHart abruptly resigned as crew chief for the No. 35 SCANA/Myrtle Beach/South Carolina NASCAR Busch Series team and driver Lyndon Amick. He has since started his own motorsports business, but not a race team. "We just felt like we needed an outside source to come in and be objective and critique what we are doing," said Larry McClure, team manager for the No. 4 Kodak Max Film Chevrolet. "We felt like we needed to start from the bottom up and decided Gary would be the guy to help us if he could do it. He certainly has that winning experience and knowledge, and we felt like he's the kind of guy we need to maybe shore up some things on our operation."

Said DeHart: "I'm going to help a little bit with everything. He's (McClure) wanting me to go to work there, but that's too far for me to drive. I'm not moving from where I live. If I can work with 'em and go to some races, that's fine. I'm not really knocking the doors down to get back into this mess." Jeremy Mayfield had things going his way during practice on Thursday. After posting the fastest time in the first practice session at 182.113 mph, the driver of the No. 12 Mobil 1 Ford smoked his way around the 1.5-mile superspeedway during the second practice to lead all drivers with a fast lap of 184.313 mph. The second fastest lap in the afternoon session belonged to John Andretti, in the STP Pontiac, at 183.430 mph. "We rolled off the truck and decided to just be patient and try to get a good day's testing in and ended up real good," said Mayfield, who trails Penske-Kranefuss teammate Rusty Wallace by just one point in the standings. "That was probably as good as we've ever been and the Mobil 1 Ford has been super all day." Rookie Jerry Nadeau was taken to the infield care center after spinning in Turn 1 and hitting the wall during the first practice on Thursday. He was later checked in and released from John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. He was found to be OK and will attempt to qualify the No. 13 FIRSTPLUS Financial Ford on Friday. Texas native Bobby Hillin replaced Nadeau behind the wheel of the No. 13 Ford during the second practice session. Terry Labonte is slated to start his 576th consecutive NASCAR Winston Cup Series race on Sunday, the all-time record for the sport. Dale Earnhardt has the second-longest current streak with 552 consecutive starts. Should Labonte continue his "Iron Man" streak throughout the current season, the Oct. 25 event in Phoenix will be his 600th straight race. First-round Bud Pole Qualifying for Sunday's Texas 500 is scheduled to get underway at 3:30 p.m. EST on Friday. Cars will run two laps, and will determine positions 1-25 on the grid. NASCAR Busch Series Bud Pole Qualifying is slated to begin at 2 p.m. EST. Joe Nemechek, driver of the No. 87 BellSouth Mobility Chevrolet in the NASCAR Busch Series, turned the fastest lap in Thursday's afternoon practice session. Nemechek ran a quick lap of 177.948 mph, followed by Elliott Sadler, in the No. 66 Phillips 66 Chevrolet, at 177.305 mph. "The improvement in speed comes from track time," said Brian Pattie, Nemechek's crew chief. "Joe wasn't here last year, so he is picking up speed with every lap of practice. He really likes this track. Of course, when you are running good, you like any track. We are still not done, but the changes are minor. We are just about there." Matt Kenseth turned the fastest lap in the first NASCAR Busch Series practice at 30.525 seconds. It's Kenseth's first visit to the 1.5-mile track. "I like this place, it's a beautiful facility," Kenseth said. "I have heard a lot of stories about the track and I have been looking forward to coming here." Source: NASCAR Online

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Drivers Dale Earnhardt , John Andretti , Bobby Hamilton , Matt Kenseth , Terry Labonte , Jeremy Mayfield , Rusty Wallace , Joe Nemechek , Jerry Nadeau , Lyndon Amick , Peter Smith , Elliott Sadler