NASCAR WCUP: Crew Chief Club at the Goody's Headache Powder 500
19 August 1998Event: Goody's Headache Powder 500
When: Sun., Aug. 22 at 7:30 p.m. EDT on ESPN
Where: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (.533-mile oval)
Together, Jimmy Makar, Larry McReynolds, Todd Parrott and Robin Pemberton have led their drivers to 63 wins, 338 top-five finishes, 536 top-10 finishes and 61 poles prior to the Goody's Headache Powder 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Parrott and Dale Jarrett are the defending champions of the Goody's Headache Powder 500. En route to their fourth win of the season, they finished the race in three hours, 19 minutes and 51 seconds with an average speed of 80.013 mph. Jarrett crossed the finish line .102 seconds ahead of second place finisher Mark Martin.
Pemberton and Rusty Wallace have also won under the lights at Bristol. They visited victory lane in the 1996 Goody's Headache Powder 500.
Crew Chief Club souvenirs and wearables are now available on the Chevrolet and Ford merchandise trailers. Fans can also log-on to the Crew Chief Club at their official website, www.crewchiefclub.com.
HOW DO YOU PREPARE YOUR CAR FOR 500 LAPS AT BRISTOL?
Jimmy Makar - Interstate Batteries Pontiac of Bobby Labonte - "You're probably asking the wrong guy because we haven't survived many laps in the last five years or so. It's the one place we go to that's really frustrating for us because we run extremely well there. We haven't had a lot of qualifying success in the past, but we do seem to be able to run well in the race and get into the top-five. However, we've been taken out quite a few times by slow cars and been involved in some wrecks that were not of our making. It seems as though that's always been a problem for us at Bristol, and it's something that we're trying to focus on to see how we can avoid those situations. But it's hard to avoid getting wrecked by a slow car when all you're doing is passing him. It's one of those things that's really been troublesome to us. We feel that if we can make it to the end of the race, we've got a solid top- five race car. It's been a frustrating place over the years for us, but obviously we've got to stay out of trouble. That's the key."
Larry McReynolds - Lowe's Home Improvement Chevrolet of Mike Skinner - "The biggest thing is trying to keep all four fenders on the car and be running at the end. Mike ran awfully well there back in April. They qualified well and ran in the top-five for most of the race. It was right after one of Mike's accidents and he got a little tired towards the end of the race and got caught up in a wreck with Bobby Labonte. He likes that place and he runs well there. In the truck series he always ran well. Bristol is the type of track that really suits him. It's the type of race track where you've got to be up on the wheel every lap. I think some drivers find it hard to stay up on that wheel for 500 laps at Bristol. Qualifying well is also important. It's hard to pass and you want to pit on the frontstretch. So, you go in there on Friday and fight and claw for whatever you can come up with for qualifying, so that you're able to get one of those 16 or 17 pit stalls on the frontstretch - which can be the difference between winning and losing regardless of how good your car is."
Todd Parrott - Ford Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Ford of Dale Jarrett - "You make sure that you've got a good, strong car. We won the race there last year. We took a brand new car to Bristol for that race and people looked at us like we were crazy because we took a new car to a place like Bristol. We had the same car up there for the first race this year and we ran really well. A flat tire forced us to start from the back twice and we still worked our way to the front. You make sure all the fenders are where they can't get into the tires, because you know there's going to be some beating and banging going on. We'll take the same car we had there last year and we expect to do well with it."
Robin Pemberton - Miller Lite Ford of Rusty Wallace - "Bristol is not only a survival race for the equipment - if you don't have any trouble, but it's also a survival race for the driver. Lap times are incredibly fast, so you've got to have good spotters. Even though it's a short race track, a lot of times we'll use two spotters. One of the spotters' sole job is to alert the other spotter that there is action on the race track because things can happen so fast. We'll prepare our car just as we normally do. We're just very cautious as the race goes on."
OTHER THAN SPINNING RACE CARS, IS THERE ANYTHING IN PARTICULAR THAT YOU NEED TO LOOK OUT FOR AT BRISTOL?
Jimmy Makar: "It's an easy place to go a lap down if you're not careful. Track position is very important. You need to stay close to the leaders. Bristol is one of those race tracks where you don't want to be racing every lap. You want to find yourself a little spot where you can sit and ride for most of the race, saving your car for a run at the end. So, track position is critical."
Larry McReynolds: "Planning your pit strategy is important. You want to have a good set of tires on your car for the last 75-50 laps so you won't have to pit again, because lapped traffic just kills you. Once you're behind a bunch of cars that are a lap or more down, it's really tough to get by them."
Todd Parrott: "Pit strategy is important because you've got to have track position. You want to keep you're car up front and away from all the lapped traffic."
Robin Pemberton: "The last time we were there we had to watch out for loose lead on the race track. That wasn't a normal deal. But pit strategy in the past has consisted of, basically, you get tires whenever you can get them. Once or twice in the last couple of years, it's been a fuel mileage race - believe it or not. The trend is showing that fuel mileage is critical everywhere we go now."
WITH THE 24 CAR SEEMINGLY DOMINATING THE WINSTON CUP CIRCUIT, WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO COMPETE AT THEIR LEVEL WITH THEIR CONSISTENCY?
Jimmy Makar: "We need to stay focused on our own race team and not worry about them or anyone else, continue to identify and work on our problem areas and just get better in every aspect of what we do. I'm sure that's what they've done, but we've tried not to focus on them. They are the gauge right now and it's hard not to look at them, but if you want to get to where they're at or to beat them, then you've got to do your own thing. That's what we're trying to do - run our own program, improve our program every day and hopefully it'll take us to their level and beyond."
Larry McReynolds: "That's a question every team in this garage has probably been asking themselves for a couple of years now, particularly in the last couple of months. Those guys are just doing everything right. Their motor program is good, their bodies are good, their chassis program is good, Ray (Evernham) is on top of his game, especially when it comes to handling Jeff (Gordon). And Jeff Gordon drives every lap of every race with all the vengeance in the world. He qualifies that way, he practices that way and he races that way. What that team has done is created positions where they have specific people looking at specific areas of their team. One guy is strictly looking at aerodynamics and two or three guys are strictly working on the chassis. I think they've just got that package deal now. Even when Jeff hits pit road, he knows that his guys are going to get him out near the front, if not in the lead."
Todd Parrott: "They've got a great race team. Jeff Gordon is probably one of the best race car drivers out here. He's come a long way. He's smart. He knows when to run his car hard and when not to run his car hard. His guys have been together for a long time too. Slowly but surely we're getting there. All we can ask ourselves is that we continue to build good race cars and give our all every weekend."
Robin Pemberton: "The 24 team can't work any harder than any other team in the garage. I know they've got a bunch of new race cars. They just seem to improve everywhere they go - not only this year but in year's past. They're a really good group. I wouldn't know what they're doing that's different from us. They're focused, they've got a driver coming into his own and they've got a crew chief who's definitely doing a great job."