NASCAR SJAPS: Lanier Locals Lie in Wait for Slim Jim Drivers
29 June 1998DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.-When the Slim Jim All Pro Series, part of NASCAR's Touring Division, heads into Lanier National Speedway this Wednesday night, many weekly competitors at Lanier will be gunning to knock off the touring series regulars.
At a minimum, Brian Smith, Ricky Turner, Jimmy Garmon, Wayne Willard, Rick Roller, Michael Britt and Gary McCoy will all be on hand in an attempt to secure starting spots in the 30 car starting field for the Gerber Foods 200. This fact, in and of itself, should produce a very exciting Bud Pole Award qualifying session. The Lanier regulars qualify on a weekly basis at the 0.375 mile oval and have a good feel for track conditions, as well as a good qualifying setup.
No one seems to be more anxious for the race than Cornelia, Ga.'s Gary McCoy. "I led 99 laps last year and I still feel we had the car to beat," stated McCoy, the driver of the Catalina Carpentry Chevrolet. "If the rear end hadn't broken we would have had a good shot at winning. I'm ready for Wednesday night so I can get another shot," he added.
Dawsonville, Ga.'s Ricky Turner wheels a Ford Thunderbird with the assistance of engine builder Ernie Elliott and he has already proven to be another local ready to give the Slim Jim drivers all that they can handle. Earlier this year Turner drove his Metro Metals/Ply Mart sponsored entry to a win in a Southern All Stars series event at Lanier.
Over the years locals have fared quite well with Willard and Gary Jones notching wins and the late Casey Elliott and Jimmy Garmon earning Bud Pole Awards. Elliott, Debris Brown, Mike Love, Jerry Awbrey and Brad Correll have all notched top five finishes since 1991 as well.
The Slim Jim All Pro Series regulars will no doubt have their guns loaded when they pull in to the Braselton, Ga. facility. Series points leader Freddie Query captured a win in 1993 and backed the victory up with a second place finish in 1995. "I haven't run Lanier for a couple of years when I was off doing other things so I haven't been there since they repaved it. I've always run well there and we'll have our Greased Lightning Cleaner Degreaser Chevrolet ready to win again," stated Query.
In addition to Query, Toby Porter, Steven Christian and Derrick Gilchrist are other Slim Jim regulars that have visited victory lane at Lanier. Dalton, Ga.'s Bobby Gill is the only current series driver to have earned a Bud Pole Award at Lanier. Billy Bigley, Jr., Hal Goodson, Ron Young and Mike Harmon represent series regulars to have secured top five finishes over the years.
The Gerber Foods 200 will be preceded by the Jasper Engines & Transmissions Pit Stop Contest. In last year's inaugural contest Ron Young's Conyers, Ga. based team picked up the $500 award for executing the quickest two tire change among eight teams. This year the competition will be even more frenzied as several teams have vowed to knock off the defending champs.
The Gerber Foods 200 is the ninth of 19 races on the 1998 Slim Jim All Pro Series schedule and is the first of two visits that the series will make to Lanier this year. The race will be televised on a tape delayed basis on Home Team Sports on July 18 at 8:00 p.m. as well as The Sunshine Network and Fox Sports South with air dates and times yet to be determined for these two additional regional networks.
Slim Jim All Pro Series practice runs from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. with Bud Pole qualifying scheduled to get underway at 6:00 p.m. The racing program, including local division action, gets underway at 8:00 p.m.