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NASCAR Winston Cup Series Notebook (Pre Hanes 500)

28 September 1997

 NASCAR Winston Cup Series
 Race Day Notebook
 Hanes 500
 Martinsville Speedway
 September 28, 1997



Kenny Irwin and Steve Park are getting their feet wet in NASCAR's premiere 
touring division this season before making the plunge into Winston Cup 
full-time in 1998 and both have had a decent weekend so far at Martinsville 

After qualifying second at Richmond International Raceway during his Winston 
Cup debut, Kenny Irwin backed it up with a third-place effort for the Hanes 
500. The 28-year old from Indianapolis, IN was just 0.056-second off the 
time recorded by pole sitter Ward Burton. 

"We've worked hard to get this qualifying deal down," said Irwin, who will 
pilot the Robert Yates Racing #28 Texaco Havoline Ford next season. "I think 
that's the toughest part of everything. The race, you just get out there and 
you've got 500 laps to race, but in qualifying, you've only got one lap to 
get the job done. I just wanted to get in the show. Making the top 25 would 
have been great. Making the top-10 is even better." 

Steve Park was offered the seat in the #40 Coors Light Chevrolet this weekend 
when regular driver Robby Gordon was "excused" to participate in the CART 
race at California Speedway. Park struggled during first round qualifying 
posting only the 39th fastest time of 45 drivers -- 20.669 seconds (91.615 

His Saturday effort, however, was the second fastest during second round 
time trials at 92.497 mph. That speed during first round would have been 
quick enough for 20th place and a frontstretch pit stall. Park's fastest 
Happy Hour lap speed was a tick slower (92.429 mph) but the only other driver 
who recorded a quicker lap was Kenny Wallace at 92.434 mph. 


Hut Stricklin was the only other driver besides pole winner Ward Burton who 
posted his best qualifying effort of the season. Stricklin's lap was fast 
enough to secure fourth on the starting grid. The previous best start for 
the driver of the #8 Circuit City Ford was a fifth at Atlanta Motor Speedway 
in March. "We made a couple of calculated guesses just before qualifying 
and it seemed like it paid off for us," said Stricklin. "

Ricky Rudd will start 5th, which equals his highest starting position of the 
season. His other fifth-place start came here at Martinsville in the spring. 
Rudd drove to a 13th-place finish in that event.