NASCAR BGN Sears Auto Center 250 -- #96, Stevie Reeves
1 July 1997
#96 Stevie Reeves, Big A Auto Parts Ford Thunderbird NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division Sears Auto Center 250 Advance The Milwaukee Mile STEVIE REEVES NOTES & QUOTES: SEARS AUTO CENTER 250 'This is a key points race, and we start a second season' DAYTONA BEACH, FL - Stevie Reeves and the Big A Auto Parts Ford team head to the Milwaukee Mile this week to kick off the second half of the 1997 NASCAR Busch Grand National season. Like most drivers, Reeves feels this race can be key in determining how the rest of the season plays out. Solidly in the top 20 of the current NASCAR Busch Grand National standings, Reeves and the Big A Auto Parts Ford team see this race as a playing a major factor in where they end the year. A shot at the top 15 is certainly not out of the question, and the team has an outside shot at the top 10 - an incredible feat for a team in its first full season of competition. Reeves, 29, is a two-time USAC national champion who is considered one of the top young drivers in the Busch Series, as well as a potential Winston Cup star. The Big A Auto Parts Fords are owned by CAA Performance Group, whose owners include John Andretti, the Winston Cup driver who was won in CART and IMSA; Cary Agajanian, one of the biggest names in motorsports administration; Mike Curb, the former California Lt. Governor who owned the car in which Richard Petty won this 200th Winston Cup race; and Don Laird, considered by many as one of the top motorsports agents. The thoughts of Big A Auto Parts Ford driver Stevie Reeves heading into Milwaukee: "Probably one of the biggest wins of my driving career came at Milwaukee in 1991. I won the Midget race there driving for Ralph, Greg and Mark Wilkes (out of Milwaukee) and the Leader Card Racers. That was one heck of a team. Even though we missed seven races, we finished second for the national USAC Midget championship by only 17 points. That was a great year. We won the Copper World Classic (in Phoenix, Ariz.) and the Race of Champions (at Indianapolis Raceway Park). Shoot, we won the Pepsi Nationals on one Sunday night at Sun Prairie (Wisc.), then drove all night to DuQuoin (Iowa) for the big race there the next day and won it. Without the Wilkes, who knows where I'd be driving wise today? That was a great race team, and a great year. "I still think about them even though I've moved on to the Busch Grand National Series. So far, it's been a relatively modest year for us. We'll see where we go from here. Milwaukee will make a big difference there. "Milwaukee is really the kick off for the second half of our season, so that in itself makes it a really big race. If you're going to make any kind of move in the second half of the year, everybody figures Milwaukee will be the place to start it. That's the case whether you figure you're in the running for the championship or you're shooting for the top 10 or shooting for the top 15. You'd better be strong in Milwaukee because everybody else is going to be doing everything they can to be. "At times we've been better than we thought we might be this year and at other times not as good. Like everybody else, we've had ups and downs. Like everybody else, you work hard to make your ups higher than your downs are low. That sounds kind of strange but you look at the way the points system is set up and that's the only way to look at it. The guys with the highest lows, not just the highest highs, are the ones leading the standings right now. That same philosophy works on shooting for any position in the points. "We haven't given up by any means. Obviously, it would mean winning about half the races that are left to win the championship but I wouldn't say the championship was necessarily one of the goals of the Big A Auto Parts Ford team this year. Sure, you start the year even with everyone else and if at this point in the season we were sitting, say, second or third, maybe our thoughts would have changed. We opened the year wanting to be consistent, then working our way up to consistently strong, and then looking at consistent top 10 and top five finishes. Ending the year in the top 15 in the points wouldn't be a bad year at all. By the same token, we're not absolutely throwing in the towel on the top 10 or even winning a race. But the most important thing to us right now is consistency, and good consistency. I think we can develop that and have more good runs. "You don't always see it from the grandstands but we have improved this season, and we have improved over the course of this season. Like anybody else we've had a few setbacks here or there but, for the most part, we've headed in the right direction. You have to keep in mind that this is the first time most of us, including myself, have ever attempted to run a full Busch Grand National schedule. A lot of weeks we're seeing some of these tracks for the very first time. From that standpoint, I'd say we've done quite well. "We ran fairly well at Milwaukee last year (started 23rd, finished 20th) and I think we have a good base to build from. We punctured a brake line early in the race and had to fight and claw the rest of the way but we left there feeling pretty good about ourselves a year ago, and we feel pretty good about Milwaukee now. After all, how many cars are so good that you can run more than half the race without brakes and still end up with a top 20 finish? All I could do was lift real early and pick up the gas real late, but the car was good enough that we could hang on a little bit even without brakes. We're starting from a good position. We'll unload knowing a little something about what we're doing, and I think we can make that work for us. "It's a good track. It's flat and fun. It's similar to New Hampshire (where Reeves ran in the top 10 before being caught up in another car's wreck earlier this season) and it's definitely a handling track. They had brand new pavement for this race last year and that stuff ought to have cured in just perfect by now. That will help make it a great race for the fans, and a lot of fun for the drivers. It's a tough race track and it's demanding. We have a brand new car, we've just finished up a brand new Big A Auto Parts Ford, so we have some really good feelings about heading up there." By Williams Company of America, Inc.