Crew Chief Club at the Exide NASCAR Select Batteries 400
11 September 1998Event: Exide NASCAR Select Batteries 400
When: Sat., Sept. 12 at 7:40 p.m. EDT on ESPN
Where: Richmond (Va.) International Raceway (.750-mile oval)
Together, Jimmy Makar, Larry McReynolds, Todd Parrott and Robin Pemberton have led their drivers to 63 wins, 342 top-five finishes, 544 top-10 finishes and 63 poles prior to the Exide NASCAR Select Batteries 400 at Richmond International Raceway.
Place your bets on a member of the Crew Chief Club to be in victory lane following the Exide NASCAR Select Batteries 400. The last three fall races at Richmond have been won by a member of the Crew Chief Club and his driver. Pemberton coached Rusty Wallace to a win in 1995, McReynolds chiefed Ernie Irvan to victory in 1996, and Parrott led Dale Jarrett to the checkers in last year's event.
Parrott and Jarrett hold the track record at Richmond for a 300-mile race. It came in their win last year on Sept. 6. They finished the race in two hours, 45 minutes and 35 seconds with an average speed of 108.707 mph.
Both Makar and Pemberton have led drivers to the pole position in the fall race at Richmond. Pemberton and Ted Musgrave took the top spot in 1994 when the two were with Roush Racing, and Makar and Wallace set fast time in 1991 during Penske Racing South's inaugural NASCAR Winston Cup season.
All four members of the Crew Chief Club will be signing autographs on Sat., Sept. 12 from 9:30-10:30 a.m. EDT prior to the NASCAR garage area opening at 11 a.m. EDT. Jimmy Makar and Larry McReynolds will be on the Chevrolet souvenir trailer, while Todd Parrott and Robin Pemberton will be on the Ford souvenir trailer. Crew Chief Club souvenirs and wearables are now available on both trailers. Fans can also log-on to the Crew Chief Club at their official website, www.crewchiefclub.com.
DID YOU LEARN ANYTHING AT RICHMOND IN JUNE THAT YOU'LL APPLY FOR THIS WEEKEND'S RACE?
Jimmy Makar - Interstate Batteries Pontiac of Bobby Labonte - "Yeah, we made some changes chassis-wise to our setup in the last race and tried some new things that seemed to be quite a bit better than what we've had at Richmond over the past several years. And we actually ran pretty good for our flat track/short track program. We're pretty pleased. We were able to run with the top-seven or eight cars all night. So, we're going to take a lot of that back to Richmond with us. Since then, we've also improved our program a little bit throughout the other flat track races we've been to. We're pretty excited about getting back there."
Larry McReynolds - Lowe's Home Improvement Chevrolet of Mike Skinner - "You know, the June Richmond race was the race right before we made this crew chief swap, as Richmond was probably the straw that broke the camel's back. The two cars, the three and the 31, were racing for 30th all night long. Mike looked like he was going to be awfully fast, but in practice right before qualifying he had a brake failure and crashed. We had to unload a backup car and we struggled with the backup car. It seems like ever since I moved to Richard's, we've struggled at Richmond. The three races I was there with Dale and then Mike, we struggled. It's been kind of disappointing because I've always had lots of success at Richmond. We won a couple races there with Ernie Irvan, and we won a couple races there with Davey Allison. I think some of the things that we've learned this year already, and the things that I've learned about Mike, Loudon being one example, and I know Loudon's not Richmond but they have a lot of similar characteristics, is that we can compile all the bits of information over the past three races plus the Loudon races, and come up with a pretty good package to go up there and run well. The three car tested there and brought us back some good information. Hopefully, we can make both cars better instead of racing for 30th."
Todd Parrott - Ford Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Ford of Dale Jarrett - "Absolutely. The 28 car tested there a couple of weeks ago and they had a really good test. They learned some stuff that we didn't get a chance to try in the first race there. We're looking forward to it and we're taking the same car that we had there in June. Had it gone green at the end, we probably would've won it, but shoulda, woulda, coulda. It's a whole different story. So, we're looking forward to going back there."
Robin Pemberton - Miller Lite Ford of Rusty Wallace - "There's probably a few small things that we'll make changes to. But we're taking a car that we've run there probably three or four times in the past, and the same group of guys are working on it. You just try to run a better race strategy. There were some things that we were doing that were really good for the long run, but to do that we gave a little bit up on the short run. So, we'll probably lean toward changing the car for a shorter run. Richmond tends to turn into, once every year or so, a fuel mileage race, believe it or not. That always lurks in the background - to get good fuel mileage and to get good performance out of the engine. I don't think you're going to get both, so on the strategy end you need to lean towards performance."
MUCH HAS BEEN MADE OF CHEATING LATELY. HOW PREVALENT IS CHEATING IN THE WINSTON CUP GARAGE COMPARED TO WHERE IT WAS 10 OR 15 YEARS AGO?
Jimmy Makar: "It always happens, but you can't really say it's cheating. It's more like stretching the rules, bending the rules, looking for loopholes - and it happens. I mean, it happens in business everyday, but I think you see it a lot less and it's a lot more discreet. It's a lot harder to do mainly because NASCAR has done such a good job of educating themselves and their inspectors and knowing what to look for and what these guys are probably going to be trying to do. If you're going to do something today, it's a lot harder than it was 10 or 15 years ago. Yes, it still goes on and there's still some people in here that try to get away with things, but I think that some of the teams you see running up front day-in and day-out, every day of the week, every week of the year, are people that don't concentrate quite as much on fudging the rules and cheating and getting by with something, as much as they are working really hard on their race cars and preparing good race cars for their team."
Larry McReynolds: "I'm not saying that there's not any cheating going on, but I'll tell you, Gary Nelson and those guys, they do a pretty good job of governing us. I really think there's a lot more made of this tire situation by the press than really has even existed. I know NASCAR did take a look at the tires, and I guess if I was in the six car's position I probably would be more prone to push a button saying, 'Hey what are these guys doing?' I think NASCAR has does an awesome job in the way they've handled the tire situation, the way they handle the body templates and the way they handle the engine inspection. I'm going to say that on a scale of one-to-10, if it would've been an eight or a nine that you could get by with 10 years ago, it's maybe about a one or a point-five that you can get by with today. A lot of people may not agree with that, but that's just what I kind of see."
Todd Parrott: "I don't think you've got as much of it now as what you had 10 or 15 years ago because Gary Nelson, Steve Peterson, Mike Helton and all those guys do a fantastic job of policing everything. Not to say that there's not some of it going on, but the biggest thing that I've really concentrated on is trying not to get caught up in all of it because it can take your focus away from what you're trying to do. If the guys are cheating, than it's NASCAR's job to catch 'em."
Robin Pemberton: "It's nothing. Fifteen years ago you would try to do things all the time, and nowadays it's absolutely nil compared to that. There's too many good teams and good sponsors and everything else out there going on that you'd be crazy to do anything really blatant. The inspections - they're miserable. I mean, they're not really tough. We're geared up for them. It's all happened in the last 15 years. We're getting used to more templates and longer inspections. I tell you, if you showed up to the racetrack now when they did an inspection or you had to go through tech like you did 15 years ago, man you'd be sittin' on easy street. Fifteen years ago, if you had to go through what we're doing now, you probably would've quit."