D6 THURSDAY, APRIL 12, 2001 THE SALINA JOURNAL TI.B ll„.B,..»._ILil_.*..M_. • • • • NASCAR this week .•If you've got a questloiti or a comment,^iiilmill$ NASCAR This Week c/o the Gaston Gazette 2500 E. Ranklln Blvd. Gastonla, N.C. 28054 COMING UP ON THE CIRCUIT All Times Eastern I Winston Cup, Talladega 500 1 p.m. • April 22 • Fox • Busch Grand National, Pepsi 300 1 p.m. • Saturday • Fox Craftsman Truck, Ram Tough 250 1 p.m. • May 6 • ESPN WINSTON CUP 1. Dale Jarrett, 1,236 2. Jeff Gordon, 1,113 3. Sterling Marlin, 1,049 4. Johnny Benson, 1,049 5. Steve Park, 1,039 8. Rusty Wallace, 1,008 , 7. Bobby Hamilton, 990 8. Ricky Rudd, 970 9. Bill Elliott, 943 10. Elliott Sadfer, 924 BUSCH Kevin Harvick, 1,097 Jason Keller, 982 Greg BIffle, 971 J6ffQreen/923 Jimmie Johnson. 917 Mite McLaughlin, 870 Jeff Purvis, 858 Kenny Wallace, 848 Matt Kenseth, 8:^4 Todd Bodinc. 800 TRUCK Scott RIggs. 675 Joe Ruttman, 648 Ricky Hendnck, 610 Terry Cook, 600 Randy Tolsma, 599 Jack Sprague, 575 Ted Musgrave, 569 Travis Kvapil, 563 Rick Crawford, 543 Coy G<bbs 485 • NASCAR This Weel< writer Monte Dutton ranks the top 10 drivers heading into this weei<end's race. Last weel<'s ranking is in parentheses. 1. (1) 2. (2) 3. (6) 4. (4) 5. (5) 6. (7) 7. (3) 8. (-) 9. (-) 10. (-) Dale Jarrett Jeff Gordon Steve Park Sterling Marlln Johnny Benson Ricky Rudd Kevin Harvick Bobby Hamilton Rusty Wallace Jeff Burton Things couldn't be better Won pole but faltered in race Also lost ground to Jarrett Still no Dodge wins Surprisingly, the best Pontiac Heartbreaking setback Took his lumps at Martinsville Hey, he's seventh in points Making the best of It Near the front at long last WINSTON CUP MARTINSViLLE, Va. — Take notes, kids, or else Dale Jarrett is going to put all of you in detention. There might be a quiz. Jarrett stands alone at present. In a stock car racing world being invaded by wave upon wave of young rock 'n' rollers, Jarrett has become the lone reliable link to the past. In fact, fueled almost by Jarrett alone, the past is kicking the Pepsi Generation's butt. The 44-year-old Jarrett's victory in Sunday's Virginia 500 was his third in the last four weeks, serving notice for the umpteenth time that NASCAR has little need for a seniors tour. Martinsville Speedway had been one of the few worlds to have remained unconquered by Jarrett. Neither he nor his father, Ned, a two-time champion himself, had ever won on the paper-clip-shaped, .526-mile speedbowl. Overall, the victory was Jarrett's 27th, moving him past 1960s star Fred Lorenzen into NASCAR's all- time top 20. Jarrett never won a Winston Cup race until he was nearly 35. Lorenzen was barely over 30 when he collected the last of his 26 victories in 1967. CRAFTSMAN TRUCK MARTINSVILLE, Va. — How did the Dodge Ram suddenly become so dominant? Scott Riggs gave the Dodge its fourth consecutive victory in the Advance Auto Parts 250 at Martinsville Speedway. Riggs started on the outside of the front row and took control in the latter stages. Riggs became the third Dodge driver to win. Joe Ruttman captured the season-opening race at Daytona, and Ted Musgrave won races in Homestead, Fla., and Bakersfield, Calif. Dale Jarrett vs: Jeff.Gordon: \ / This is no war of words. Rpth drivers ar^ gervtlemanly ' and complirtient^ry of each'othfer. But this is a^'vibrant rivalry, made more Intense bji'the faotthaftl|4sea:^dn 's results to date seem to point to ^,twtt'm ?n ',r|ce,-. „ between the two for the Wlnstorf,CUp bHarhbloWsil ^ip, >' NASCAR This Week's Monte Dti'fonrgiy^il his opirilon: "After eight races, tliie 'ciisJahce/^etWe^h Jarrett and Gordon and the rest of <those^^ho were e}(pected to be contenders Is exti"aordinary. Itbould betHat others — like, for instance, Steve F^ark or Sterling Marfin — will emerge, but among the perennial contenders, only Rusty Wallace Is anywii6re tilos^, and yvallace is already 228 points out of first.«TohySjtevi^rt1s'?64 pointsjbehind, reigning champion Bobb)^i,Labonte 430]0ut of first, Mark ' Martin is 489 be(>ind aqcyeff BurtQp1s.53i'pi|t >Unless ' the wii0ly improt ^^bjejpcclffi'gl iTabonte, ^/laftlli-^and ' Burton'are already too faffbehlnd to catch ^up,"' WINSTON CUP What: Talladega 500 Where: Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway (2.666-mile track), 188 laps/501.288 miles When: 1 p.m.,'April 22 Defending champion: Jeff Gordon Qualifying record: Bill Elliott, Ford, 212.809 mph, April 30,1987 Race record: Mark Martin, Ford, 188.354 mph. May 10, 1997 Notable: Dale Earnhardt won the final race of his career at Talladega, and he collected 10 of his 76 career victories at the track. ... Gordon won this race last year after starting 36th. BUSCH GRAND NATIONAL" What: Nashville 300 Where: Nashville Superspeedway, Lebanon, Tenn. (1.333-mile track), 225 laps/299.925 miles When: 1 p.m., Saturday Defending champion: First race Qualifying record: None Race record: None Notable: This brand-new track is D-shaped and paved in concrete. ... Previously, BGN races in this area were held at the Nashville Fairgroundsvv CRAFTSMAi^TRUCK What: Ram Tough 250 Where: Gateway . Dale Earnhardt Jr. Winston Cup Senes By Monte Dutton NASCAR This Week In the aftermath of his father's tragic death, Dale Earnhardt Jr is probably the most popular driver on the Winston Cup circuit An 11th place finish in the Virginia 500 enabled the third generation driyer — both his father and grandfather are members of the National Motorsports Press Association's Stock Car Hall of Fame — to move from 20th to 19th place in the points standings As a rookie, Earnhardt Jr won Winston Cup races last spnng at Texas and Richmond, and he then went on to win The Winston all-star race at Lowe's Motor Speedway He hasn't won since, but he did manage to finish second behind Michael 1 Waltrip in this year's Daytona 500 He won his third career pole March 30 at Texas Motor Speedway Hometown: Kannapolis, Age: 26 Career statistics: 47 starts, 3 poles, 2 victories, 4 top-five finishes, 8 top-IDs, more than $4 5 million m earnings Firsts: Start (May 30, 1999, at Charlotte), pole (May 28, 2000, at Charlotte), win (April 2, 2000, a1 Texas) Car: No 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo^ owned by Teresa Earnhardt Crew chief: Tony Eury Do you feel like you are recovering from the loss of your father? "No, not at all, really I think it'll be a long, long time before I feel like I felt before all that happened You've got to deal with it. Everybody has their own little way I • HOT: Dale Jarrett has three wins in the past four races and is 123 points ahead in the standings. • NOT: Todd Bodine was last at Martinsville and has been 32nd or worse in four straight races. John Clark/NASCAR This W% been nearly two months since Dale Eamhantt Jr. lort Ms fMher. "I tMnk about Mm all the time, it seems ilice liiere are good days and bad days." try to deal with it the best way I can. I thini- about him all the time It seems III e there are good days and bad days. Just when you think you're feeling better about It, and it seems to be lessening each day, you hit a bump in the road, and you'll spend several days ' where you can't think about nothing else. I don't know how long that II be, but it's not such a bad thing I think about him often." Have you noticed the great outpouring from fans? "It really surprised me You walk out on pit road, and that's when you realize how many people are paying attention and how many people know what's going on The fans In the grandstands really give me a positive reaction It's cool to see that It really pumps you up and gives you a good feeling It makes you want to give them some thing to mai c them laugh and give them something to cheer dooui Is racing a release for you? It's something thai would really take me a long time to explain. The way 1 look at racing and the way I feel about racing, going to the traclctin weekends, the way I think about It, the way I prepare myself for each race . . it's totally different now than it was before. Some of the aspects about racing that wpre huge to me a year ago don't really matter no more. There are things I didn't really think I would appreciate, I appreciate now I raced for three years in the Busc h Senes and the Winston Cup Series, and the majority of my enjoyment was how proud my father got and to see him happv after a win, and things like that they're not there no more" When did Jeff Green make his Winston Cup debut? 2. How many bonus points does a driver receive for leading at least one lap in a Winston Cup race? 3. What year was the current Winston Cup points system introduced? •gZ6T •£ :9Ay z :i766T "T Sd3MSNV International Raceway, Madison, III. (1.25-mile track), 160 laps/200 miles When: 1 p.m., May 6 Defending champion: Jack Sprague Qualifying record: Stacy Compton, Dodge, 133.093 mph, Aug. 19, 1999 Race record: Jack Sprague, Chevrolet, 113.726 mph. May 7, 2000 Notable: Dodge Rams have won all four races this season. YourTum Letters From Our Readers Dear NASCAR This Weelc, I am writing in reference to tlie unfair rule placed on the Fords this year for the aerodynamic disadvantage that gives the other makes an advantage. The rules should have all makes using the same measurements on trunk scopes, and also the same number of new scopes that are now required on the rooftops. The only reason that NASCAR placed these disadvantages on the Fords was after they won the points championship for 2000 and some of the Chevrolet drivers kept complaining. Roger A. Smith Hagerstown, Md. We assume you mean the manufacturer's championship, which Ford did win in 2000. But the points championship was won by Pontiac driver Bobby Labonte. Dear NASCAR This Week, Dale Earnhardt was always the first to apologize if he wrecked someone and never badmouthed anyone who wrecked him. That's why I was a fan of his. For anyone to find fault, or send death threats, because of his fatal crash is an insult to his memory. Those idiots should go watch professional wrestling and leave us NASCAR fans alone. CUflTReed Renville, Minn. Dear NASCAR This Week, I'm writing about Dale Earnhardt's death. The people who are true racing fans would not blame Sterling Marlin. It's just part of racing. Dale would not have felt this way. I'm an avid Dale Earnhardt fan and have been for years. People are so cruel! I thank God for taking Dale so he didn't have be like a friend of mine. He injured his brain stem and can't walk or talk... just a vegetable in a wheelchair. No fan would want Dale to be that way. He was The Man in my book. Dorothy Finch Sidney Center, N.Y. Sad stories touch many lives. Thanks for writing. • BodyDynamicsRacing.com, based in Denver, N.C, has created an online "Driver Scouting" service for up-and- coming professional racers. This service will offer talented drivers across the country the opportunity to be showcased on a professionally managed motorsports Web site, where they can be exposed to team owners, sponsors and motorsports media throughout the professional racing community : and the world. The "Driver Scouting" report launched April 2. For more information; go to the company's Web site (www.bodydynamicsracing. com). • Nashville; Tenn., was a hotbed of Winston Cup racing for many yemv/r-:.;: ' arid the opening of the' ^ new Nashville Super speedway gives (ocai ' fans hopf» of Mgnlning a Wlhitdn Cup date within 'few year i;ent Nasli the old'\ Ids track J :L9S4. ThaneliigtWas, qiilte comp^tltlVB then^ as evIdejBMWie iwt Richard ,|^^||gy|M| nIneS iAigh sevenJ Two Winston Cup teams make crew chief clianges J^^™**^*** By IVIonte Dutton NASCAR This Week Two Winston Cup teams have hired new crew chiefe in the past week. Fred Graves, who once directed Ron Homaday to a Craftsman Truck Series championship, is Homaday's crew chief again, at least on an interim basis, since Philippe Lopez's departure. Jim Long has replaced Tim Brewer as crew chief of Mike Wallace's Ford. WHERE IT ALL BEGAN: It was at a Craftsman Truck race at Martinsville Speedway where Richard Childress first started paying attention to Kevin Harvick, who now drives for Cliildress in the Winston Cup and'Busch series. "I made a few moves that he thought were pretty gutsy," remembers Harvick. "Mostly I was beating up on another driver. I wasn't shooting for it, but it turned his head in my direction. For that, Martinsville will alyvays be special. I didn't know it for a while, but my life completely changed — for the better —at that race." VIRGINIA IS FOR MARTINSVILLE LOVERS: Another racer of the commonwealth, Rockbridge Baths native Rick Mast, recalled his first visit to Martinsville. "I forgot exactly what happened, if the (local short-track) race was rained out or whatever," Mast said. "We were coming back home and we stopped off at Martinsville Speedway. It was in the daytime, and I remember pulling up to the fourth-turn gate. "I remember peering out at the racetrack and ioolcing down the straightaway. I told the guys (on his crew) that, if I could ever once run this racetrack, my life would be fiil- filled." KEEP IT CLEAN: Johnny Benson, who came to Martinsville ranked third in the points standings, entered the Virginia 500 with a certain trepidation. The tiny track is a little rough for Benson's taste. "Martinsville is a track that is hard on brakes, and it's a place where it is hard to pass," Benson said. "You sometimes have to bump people out of the way, and people are always bumping and liitting you. Everybody, going into the race, feels like he's got to hit or wreck somebody to get by them, and that is what they do so that takes some of the fiiri out of it. I don't like hitting or wrecking people. That's not racing. "Some guys take it to the point they say, 'Well, everybody expects to get hit, so I will just Wt them and get them out of the way.' If you've got a good car there, then, I think you can get to the front without liit- The speed of Dale Jarrett's pit crew gives \ him confidence that he \ can get out of the pits faster than other competitors, and the | team, led by craw chief Todd Parrott, has been a huge factor in Jarretfb three recent \ victories. I "My pit crew makes every gamble a little less of a gamble," Jarrett said after his Martinsville victory. "I guess they give us some leeway that ot|ier teams don't have." Copyright 2001 The Gaston (N.C.) Gazette • Distributed by Universal Press Syndicate (800) 255-6734 ting people." For release week of April 9,2001 • Design: CartaGraphics Inc., Sarasota, Fla.
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