NASCAR BGN Series Autolite Platinum 250 Preview: #96, Stevie Reeves
3 September 1997
#96 Stevie Reeves, Big A Auto Parts Ford Thunderbird NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division Autolite Platinum 250 Advance Richmond International Raceway STEVIE REEVES NOTES & QUOTES: AUTOLITE PLATINUM 250 'Turn two is the key to the track' RICHMOND, VA - Solidly set in the top 20 of the NASCAR Busch Grand National standings, Stevie Reeves and the Big A Auto Parts Ford team head to the 0.750-mile Richmond (Va.) International Raceway this week for Friday night's 250-lapper. Reeves and the Big A Auto Parts team are coming off seventh-place finishes at Bristol, Tenn., and a 25-place-improvement 17th-place finish at Darlington, S.C., over the past two weeks. Though the fact is lost on a lot of racing observers, this is the first time either Reeves or the second-year team have attempted a full season of NASCAR Busch Grand National racing. Reeves, 29, is a native of Indianapolis, Ind., who appeared destined for the ranks of Indy Car racing. Though he won two national USAC championships and created a large following in the midwest due to his exploits in Sprints and Midgets, Reeves chose the stock car route. He began with Ed Whitaker Racing and, in 1996, moved to the CAA Performance Group, which fields the Big A Auto Parts Fords. That wasn't expected for the driver whose first home was three blocks from the fourth turn of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and who later moved to within one block of the first turn. CAA Performance Group, based in Kannapolis, N.C., is owned by John Andretti, one of only four drivers to have won major events in CART, IMSA and NASCAR; Cary Agajanian, the California promoter and sanctioning body executive; Mike Curb, former Lt. Gov. of California as well as a former Winston Cup and CART car owner; and Don Laird, considered one of the most well-prepared executives in motorsports. The thoughts of Big A Auto Parts driver Stevie Reeves heading into Richmond: "The best finish of my career came at Richmond. We were sixth there in the spring race of 1995, so the place is pretty special to me. Obviously, we're working to improve on that either at Richmond or somewhere else before this season is over. The guys on this Big A Auto Parts Ford team have been working pretty hard this year, and I think we have a top-five or two in us before the year is out. We've had some great pit stops the past few weeks, too, and that always makes a big difference. "I've always run pretty well at Richmond, for whatever reason. We had what looked like a pretty good run going at Richmond back in March but we got taken out by another car. Without that, and assuming no other bad things happened to us, I feel we could have finished with at least a really solid top 10, if not better. That could have been a really good race for us. "I think one of the reasons I've had a lot of good Richmond runs is I respect the second turn. To me, that's the key to the whole track. That's a really tight turn. The track is shaped more like a D than anything else, and you go from the third turn to the fourth turn to this long, sweeping turn through the frontstretch and then into the first and second turns. Coming out of two, you head down on the only true straightaway, the backstretch. That makes that second turn really tricky, and you better be ready for it and ready to handle it. "If you had to go through that second turn on a regular street, there would be neighborhood petitions to put a stop sign there. It's a really hard left. Cut it too tight and you're in the wall. Cut it not tight enough and you're in the wall. That second turn really boils down to one fact: if you mess up, how you mess up means either the side of the car or the back of the car is going to slam the wall. Hey, get too careful and three or four cars are past you before you know it, and three or four others are lined up to take you on the backstretch. "Of course, you only go through there 250 times. "Then, the rest of the track requires some time too. It's a real handling race track. The layout is a lot like Rockingham but without as much banking. You have to be smooth and you have to have a good setup. "Track position will be crucial, too, but it usually is in Busch racing because you're running so fewer laps than Winston Cup. That's where our good pit stops have helped us. You can't lose anything in the pits, and you sure want to gain as much as you can. By the same token, (crew chief) John Birosh has his hands full figuring pitting strategy throughout the race. All of that is for track position. You don't want to have to spend a lot of time trying to re-pass cars you have already passed. "We think we'll run pretty well at Richmond. Everybody on this Big A Auto Parts Ford team is ready to get there. We're starting to get more and more consistent, and that was one of our goals for this season. Before the year is out, you might see some pretty good things from this Big A Auto Parts team." By Williams Company of America, Inc.