D4 THURSDAY, APRIL 26, 2001 THE SAUNA JOURNAL rvii IIM5C/III this week -J... s B If you've got a queatlon or a comment, write: ^PSR This Week c/o The Gaston Gazette 2500 E. FIrankiin Blvd. '^astonla, N.C 28054 C0IVIIN6 UP ON THE CIRCUIT AW Times Eastern I Busch Grand National, Auto Club 300 3:30 p.m. • Saturday • Fox^ • WInstonCup, NAPA AutoPartsSOO 2 p.m. • Sunday • Fox Craftsman Truck, Ram Tough 200 4 p.m. • May 6 • ESPN \^.....'...^:^'q (IOl POINTS STANDINGS WINSTON CUP WINSTON CUP 1. Dale Jarrett, 1,345 .•2. VJeffGordon, i;200 , 3. Johnny Benson, 1,195 4. Bobby Hamilton, 1,175 5. Sterling Marlin, 1,153 6. Rusty Wiallace, 1,137 7. Steve Park, 1,109 8. RiolvRudd, 1.096* , 9. Tony Stewart, 1,047 10. Bill Elliott, 3,015 Scott Riggs, 675 Joe'Ruttman, 648 Ricky Hendnck, 610 TeityCook, 600 Greg BIffle, 1,294 'Kevirt HarvieK; 1,291 Jason Keller, 1,245 Jeff Green, 1,240 Mike McLaughlin, 1,193 Randy Tolsma, 599 Tod^ Bodine, 1,103 " Jack Sprague, 575 Jimmie Johnson, 1,075 Ted Musgrave, 569 'Jeff Purvis, a,07^q , Jravia Kvapil, 563 Kenny Wallace, 1,037 Rick Crawford, 543 Randy LaJole,;.022 CoyGibbs,485 'TOP TIN 1' I-''' What: NAPA Auto Parts 500 Where: California Speedway, Fontana, Caiif. (2-mile track), 200 iaps/400 miles When: 2 p.m., Sunday Defending champion: Jeremy Mayfield Track qualifying record: IVlike Skinner, Chevrolet, 186.061 mph, April 28, 2000 Race record: Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 155.012 mph, June 22,1997 Notable: California Speedway is banked 14 degrees in the turns, 11 degrees on the front straight and 3 degrees on the back straight. BUSCH GRAND NATIONAT What: Auto Club 300 Where: California Speedway, Fontana, Calif. (2-mile track), 150 laps/300 miles When: 3:30 p.m., Saturday Defending champion: Matt Kenseth Track qualifying record: Jeff Green, Chevrolet,178.258 mph, April 27, 2000 Race record: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, * 173.561 mph, Oct. 29, 1999 Notable: A fierce battle for the series championship is shaping up between incumbent Green and Kevin Harvick. Greg Biffle and • NASCAR This Week writer Monte Dutton ranks the top 10 drivers heading into this weekend's race. Last week's ranking is in parentheses. 1. (1) 2. (2) 3. (4) 4. (5) 5. (8) 6. (3) 7. (6) 8. (7) 9. (9) 10. (-) Dale Jarrett Jeff Gordon Sterling Marlin Johnny Benson Bobby Hamilton Steve Park Ricky Rudd Kevin Harvick Rusty Wallace Tony Stewart Disappointing showing at Talladega Especially strong at Fontana Faded late after leading the most laps Could win at any time Biggest victory of his career Bad luck late in the race Off day for Yates team Never led but finished 12th Lost his place In the draft Seems to warm up with the weather WINSTON CUP TALLADEGA, Ala. — It doesn't take a rocket scientist or a magician to win a superspeedway race. It takes a racer, pure and simple. Bobby Hamilton didn't have to "see the air." He just had to find a way to the front, and his timing was impeccable. To Hamilton, a tough, no- nonsense race driver from Mount Juliet, Tenn., winning the Talladega 500 was a matter of simple arithmetic. Early in the race, Hamilton figured out that he could work his way to the front of the field in approximately 15 laps. When 15 laps were left on Sunday, he put his plan in motion — literally. The result was the fourth victory of his career and the first for car owner Andy Petree. "I learned some stuff in the fall (October 2000) race by watching Dale Earnhardt," Hamilton said, referring to the legendary driver who won 10 times here before being killed in a Daytona 500 crash in February. "I put that stuff 'in the glove compartment' and waited until there were 15 laps to go." BUSCH GRAND NATIONAT TALLADEGA, Ala. — Mike McLaughlin guarded the bottom of Talladega Superspeedway's banking faultlessly, and the result was a fiercely contested victory over Jimmy Spencer in the Subway 300. McLaughlin, driving a Pontiac owned by Joe Gibbs, traded sheet metal to resist Spencer's dogged pursuit in the final laps. IVlike McLaughlin vs. ilmmy Spencer A verbal battle, much of it unsuitedfor publication, broke out following the running of the Subway 300, a Busch Grand National race held at Talladega Superspeedway and won by McLaughlin on Saturday. • After the bruising flnis,h, Spencer called \he race wlnnjer all manner of names and said he'd get him "somewhere down the road." Spencer added: >".) pan race, like that, too, don't forget. He^fiut me Jntp th&'^rass twice. Then 1 went to the outside, and he tried to put me in the wall. \ won't forget. He better be glad ,he don't drive & Winston Cup car." - ' • "Through a lot of bad experiences, I've-learned a lot about restrictor-plate' racing,'!-McLaughlin said. "Once I ' got In front, I did what I liad tb-do to protect my, line at . .the bottom of the rapetrack. Jiijimy'said dirty racing? . That's the pot calling th?;k?ttle,t)lact<r ..."He ran me :;'K 'harcl, I thought it was'a gpbd race?.-'", ^ • > NASCAR This Week's,Monte. I^uiton glv^s tils ^ opinion: "One thing no one can s'ay about Jimmy f'Spencer is that he doesn't want to w)n every race he •*j;jbmpetes in." < ' Hamilton Winston Cup Senes i John ClaiVNASCARThb Week Before the start of the 2001 season, veteran driver Bobby Hamilton moved fhm Larry McLure^ Kodak-«ponsorod car to Andy Potrae% No. 55 Square D Chevrolet. And Hamilton has found Instant success. He won the 500«dle race Sunday at Tallade^ Superspeedway and sits ftourth In points. HAMILTON By Monte Dutton NASCAR This Week It kind of ate at Bobby Hamilton, the fact that he had never won a restrictor plate race. When he spent three years driving for Larry McClure, whose No 4 Chevrolet was noted for its performances at Daytona and Talladega, the team's sudden inability to do well at those tracks put a somewhat unfair reflection on Hamilton. Hamilton put such talk |^p behind him Sunday when he pulled off a spectacular victory over Tony Stewart, another driver who is proving his mettle at the restrictor 1 plate tracks, in the Talladega 500. I The victory was the fourth of Hamilton's | career but his first on a track longer than roughly a mile. i Incidentally, the 2001 season has been | kind to Hamilton In more ways than one. I He owns a Craftsman Truck Series team, | and one of his two drivers, Joe Ruttman, has emerged as one of that series championship contenders. Hometown: Nashville, Tenn , now lives I in nearby Mount Juliet *| Age: 43 I Career statistics: 310 starts, 5 poles, I 4 victories, 19 top-five finishes 62 top 10s, more than $11 million in earnings Firsts: Start (Nov. 5,1989, at PhoeniX),! pole (June 21,1996, at Michigan), win 1 (Oct. 27,1996, at Phoenix) Car: No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo.Qwned by Andy Petree I How Important was It that the Talladega SOO was a safe race? "I think | we need to know ourselves that we can do this and not wreck, and I think this race £ proved it. The fall race proved It, NASCAR § knows that Daytona is a little different | animal. Seven or eight years ago, Daytona! and Talladega were identical. So I think they're going to start testing and probably S come up with different rules for there (Daytona) or maybe new rules for both | tracks... (This) just lets us know that we don't have to run over each other on the i third lap." | How important was It for you to win I this race after not winning in three years? "Without stepping on anybody's toes, I like going somewhere I mean, we I get paid a lot of money to do this,. I want I to earn my keep, and I thought it would be 1 cool to win Andy (Petree's) first race Not I to take anything away from (teammate) I Joe (Nemechek) or anything like that, , i because if Joe had won Andy's first race, I' would have been proud for that, too. But \ It 's the same thing for Richard Petty. It made me feel good to win Richard Petty s first race as a car owner (at Phoenix in 1996). That was pretty special for me." S2 • HOT: Tony Stewart moved up four spots, from 13th to ninth, in the points standings. • NOT: Stacy Compton started first but finished last at Talladega. 1. In what year did Dale Earnhardt win his first Winston Cup championship? 2. What Winston Cup driver was named Rookie of the Year in the 1980 Indianapolis 500? 3. How many national Late Model Sportsman champions went on to win the (now) Winston Cup championship? •996T PUB T96T u| waJJep poN '-3^0 "E :puoaiL|0!y aiji -z !086T T • SU3MSNV Jason Keller are other prime contenders. ... This will be the fifth Busch Series race at California. CRAFTSMAN TRUCK What: Ram Tough 200 by Pepsi Where: Gateway International Raceway, Madison, ill. (1.25-mile ' track), 160 laps/200 miles When: May 6 Defending champion: Jack Sprague YourTurn Letters From Our Readers Dear NASCAR This Week, My husband and I are true fans of NASCAR, and we'd be at every race if we could afford to. But the best we can do is through TV, and this year it seems that Fox TV has messed up everything. We no longer get the Busch races because they are on something called "FX," whatever that is. The person at our cable office didn't even know. Needless to say, we don't get it. Also, this past weekend, the race at Rockingham was postponed, and Fox didn't show it on Monday, that FX station did. What happened to ESPN? They at least took the time to show the fans the races. Is Fox too big to handle NASCAR? Or not big enough? We are quite disappointed in the televising of the races this year. Can anything be done about it? Shame on Fox! Harold and Barbara Snell Mauricetown, N.J. Clearly, Fox hopes complaints from fans like you will encourage more cable systems to pick up its FX and Fox Sports Net coverage. Maybe that strategy will work, and in time, more cable systems will carry NASCAR programming. X Dear NASCAR This Week, Darrell Waltrip is doing a super job as a sportscaster during the races. There has never been any better. I really enjoy him. Dorothy Kihn Centralia,Wash. Dear NASCAR This Week, I have a real problem with the comment Felix Sabates made about Dale Jarrett in the "Feud of the Week." I think Felix has got more money than brains for him to make a remark about "Chevy's got better drivers than Ford's got." Christine Stewart Cuttingsviile, Vt. You were not the only one to take offense at Sabates 'remarks. ^ • During their careers) .. t„iHehard Petty and David' ^tfttiMli finished 1-2 In ' races an^neyj»dib|e 63 times. Wdlie Petty won more raciM>'overall than Pearsor Ken Schrader says rules at Talladega suit him just fine their headwtv- KatS (63-60).:;,,,^;, ,p«ton seven championships to PearsonVi^ three, but Pearson ^jbiiniJHlij^ for the chamJl^N^aHJl^ by ibifttl" rSr times In By Monte Dutton NASCAR This Week Veteran driver Ken Schrader — yes, the same Schrader who was the first to reach Dale Earnhardt at the end of the Daytona 500 — spoke up in favor of the aerodynamic rules in place at Talladega. "I still like the new aero rules better than what we had," Schrader said. "You know we are all going to be in a big pile, but at least this way we can race. Everyone went to Talladega last fall, kept their noses clean and we put on a great race. I really think that can happen again, and I look forward to coming back." CHAMBERS RESURFACES: Rookie Jason Leffler has a new crew chief, Matt Chambers. Chambers replaced Kevin Cram at Chip Ganassi Racing earlier this week. Chambers worked at Roush Racing with Kurt Busch in both the Craftsman Truck and Winston Cup series. TIMES CHANGE: John Andretti chalks up the emergence of new young stars like Steve Park and Kevin Harvick as business as usual in the Winston Cup Series. "There are some new faces up in the front of NASCAR racing this year and some old ones running in the back," Andretti said. "It will keep on rotating and that's what keeps NASCAR exciting. This isn't like Formula One where you have a pretty good idea what driver with what car make is going to win week, in and week out. In NASCAR, any driver and any make can win on any given Sunday." WHAT SETS GORDON APART: Chip Ganassi Racing team manager Tony Glover complimented Jeff Gordon and Hendrick Motorsports when he analyzed the current Winston Cup championship race. "I've never been a part of a championship team, but in my opinion, it's very difficult to win a title," Glover said. "It appears to be even more difficult to defend a title. That's what made that 24 team (Gordon) so • Talladega race weekend was also the occasion of the annual induction ceremonies for the International Motor- sports Hall of Fame and Museum, housed on the grounds of the 2.666-mile track. This year's induction was held April 19, and the new members of the hall of fame were the NASCAR star Neil Bonnett, open-wheel champion Jimmy Bryan, motorcycle superstar Mike Hailwood and engine builder Fred Offenhauser. The Motorsports Hall of Fame is open each day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Talladega race weekends, and from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day the rest of the year. XCREWOFTHJ strong when they were winning championships. They didn't let up after they won one. "They were prepared to do it again. I'm not saying these other guys aren't, but there's so much pressure on the whole team that it's hard to repeat. "The 88 (Dale Jarrett) won their first title in '99 and then finished fourth last year. "Bobby Labonte won the championship last year and look where they are now. It looks like one year you get all the right breaks, and the next year, some things seem to go wrong that didn't go wrong the year before. I don't think the IB (Labonte) had any DNFs last year. This year they haven't been quite so fortunate." Copyright 2001 The Gaston (N.C.) Gazette • Distributed by Universal Press Syndicate (800) 255-6734 • For release weel< of April 23, 2001 • Design: CartaGraphics Inc., Sarasota, Fla. • Andy Petree has worked diligently to build a winning team for more than five years, and Bobby 'Hairiiitoh's Talladega 500 Victory was Petree's first as a team owner. Petree was a highly successful crew chief most known for his work with Dale Earnhardt and Harry Gant. But his first victory as a crew chief was also at Talladega, when Phil Parsons won. Hamilton's victory was'also the first for crew chief Jimmy 'pledge. A.
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