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NASCAR-WCUP: Michigan Race for Jasper Engines

18 August 1998

Robert Pressley
August 17, 1998 (Brooklyn Michigan) -- The first race, in 1998, at the Michigan International Speedway was very frustrating for the #77 Jasper Engines Team and the beginning of the weekend was an indication that it would be the same this time around. Our time, on first round qualifying, put us in the 31st position. With no improvement in the practice session before second round qualifying, we elected to stand on our time and hope that no one would find any speed. Only two cars found the speed to put them in front of us. As the green flag started the Pepsi 400, our Ford Taurus was in the 33rd position.

The green flag flew and before Crew Chief Michael McSwain alias Fatback could ask Robert (Pressley) how the car was handling we had a caution flag. Within the next few laps there was another yellow, as the 30 car and the 91 got in trouble and skidded to a stop on the front stretch grass. With the debris on the racing surface, Robert possibly picked up a piece of metal and had a tire going flat. We made a pit stop, quickly changing four tires and making sure the fuel cell was as full as it could be at one of the most famous fuel mileage tracks in history.

Pit strategy began to play a key role even before the half way money was paid. At lap 66 we decided to only take on two tires. We knew by that point that our car was better on long green flag runs. The Jasper Engines and Transmission machine began to pick its way through the field as we neared the half way point. Robert radioed in and said he was riding the high line and staying in the groove on lap 91 and we were inside the top 30.

The car really started to come in toward the end of the race as there was a long green flag run. Spotter Mark Wallace radioed to Asheville NC driver and told him to keep doing it like that. Your coming off the corners like a rocket. We had to stop on lap 175 for only two tires and one can of UNOCAL 76 racing fuel. The stop was lightening fast as the Panther Pit Pack pulled off the pit stop in under nine seconds. We were in 14th position at that time. Then the caution came out on lap 178 as the 22 car (not Jasper powered) blew an engine.

Just as the car started to come in the checkered flag dropped. We will leave the Michigan International Speedway with a surprising top 25 finish. After a frustrating start to the weekend, the Jasper Engines Team made great strides this weekend to end up in the 24th spot. We look forward to the Bull Ring of The Bristol Motor Speedway next Saturday. Robert loves the short tracks. The Jasper Engines car could be the surprise of The Goodys Headache Powder 500 in Bristol.

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