NASCAR BGN Series Gateway 300 Preview -- #96, Stevie Reeves
22 July 1997
#96 Stevie Reeves, Big A Auto Parts Ford Thunderbird NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division Gateway 300 Advance Gateway International Raceway STEVIE REEVES NOTES & QUOTES: GATEWAY 300 MADISON, IL - NASCAR's Busch Grand National teams head to their third new speedway of 1997 next week, Gateway International Raceway in Illinois, located just minutes east of St. Louis, Mo. Gateway joins Las Vegas, Nev., and Dallas, Tex., on the list of new tracks for the series this season. Stevie Reeves and the Big A Auto Parts Ford team have been one of the more successful teams on the new speedways. The Indianapolis, Ind., native is in his first full season of Busch series racing, and is seeing several tracks for the first time. But at those tracks where inexperience is commonplace among all competitors, Reeves and the team have proven themselves to be on equal ground. Reeves, 29, grew up three blocks from the fourth turn of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and, when he moved as a child, ended up even closer - one block from the first turn of Indianapolis. The fires that began as a child led to a successful racing career. Reeves is a two-time USAC national champion, and is considered one of the top young driver of NASCAR's Busch Grand National Series. The Big A Auto Parts Ford is owned by CAA Performance Group, based in Kannapolis, N.C. Owners of CAA include NASCAR Winston Cup and CART winner John Andretti; internationally-known motorsports promoter Cary Agajanian; former winning Winston Cup and IndyCar owner Mike Curb; and noted motorsports agent and administrator Don Laird. The thoughts of Big A Auto Parts Ford driver Stevie Reeves heading into Gateway: "Experience is such a big factor in motorsports. Age isn't as important as how long you've been around and where you've been around at. When I was 24, I was considered the 'grizzled veteran' for a lot of the tracks where USAC was running. I knew my way around those tracks and had been running there for years. In the Busch Series, a lot of guys in their early 30's are considered the 'grizzled veterans' at these tracks. "It's a lot like golf can be. Even Jack Nicklaus might not want to take on a slightly lesser player if they are on the course the other guy has been playing several times a week for 20 years. I'm not talking about a guy who plays golf like I do but somebody pretty close to Nicklaus' game. You get to know the place. You know what works and how it works under what conditions. Well, race tracks are pretty much the same way. There is a way to approach them. There is a good groove around the tracks, but a lot of times that groove might depend on conditions. These are the types of things you can't teach somebody. The only way to learn it is through seat time, and a lot of seat time. "So when we get to places like Gateway, everybody kind of falls back to the same level. Nobody is good there and nobody is bad there. Everybody starts out even. The key is staying there. Sure, you figure the cars that run good week in and week out are going to be better at a brand new track, and the guys who struggle on a weekly basis are probably going to have to work hard too. But the difference between the two should be less than it normally is. A brand new track is a really good place for surprises. You figure somebody you don't see every week at the front is going to qualify really well. They'll hit the setup just right and surprise a lot of people. And while the odds are a little longer, somebody you don't see near the front every week could run really well, and have a great finish. "The guys on this Big A Auto Parts Ford team are looking at this race as one that could be a breakthrough race for us. This team is beginning the second half of its second season. It's the first full year for almost everybody on the race team. (Crew chief) John Birosh came over right around a year ago, so we're just now getting our first year together completed. We've run partial schedules before but not really had the chance to run for points. So far, there have been a lot of positives. We're pretty solid in the top 20 of the points right now, and we've got our sights set on seeing what we can do for the top 15. "A brand new track is the kind of place where a lot of good things could happen for us. It's a flat track and we've run well on the flat tracks this season. New Hampshire, for example, was a great run for us a few weeks ago. We were running in the top 10 until somebody wrecked in front of us, and we looked like we had a shot to get back into the top 10, but got caught up in somebody else's mess again. Neither one was our fault, we were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. But we felt pretty good about how we ran New Hampshire and our setup there. "We're excited about going there. It's another brand new market for our series and for our sponsors. I know Big A Auto Parts is excited abut being there. This series has really grown, and the addition of Las Vegas, Dallas and St. Louis this year has increased our exposure and taken us to important new markets. "Hey, 'new' is good. That's why everybody kisses babies, tells them how cute they are and laughs when they burp. You don't see that happening with too many old men. "'New' is good for our series too. This series is really growing and we're getting more and more attention. That's just good for everybody. "This Big A Auto Parts Ford team is pretty happy to be a part of that." By Williams Company of America, Inc.