NASCAR WCUP: Crew Chief Club at the MBNA Gold 400
17 September 1998Event: MBNA Gold 400
When: Sun., Sept. 20 at 12:10 p.m. EDT on TNN
Where: Dover Downs (Del.) International Speedway (one-mile oval)
Together, Jimmy Makar, Larry McReynolds, Todd Parrott and Robin Pemberton have led their drivers to 63 wins, 342 top-five finishes, 546 top-10 finishes and 64 poles prior to this Sunday's MBNA Gold 400 at Dover Downs (Del.) International Speedway.
Makar and Bobby Labonte set a track qualifying record in winning the pole for the 1996 MBNA 500. Labonte lapped the one-mile oval in 23.213 seconds with an average speed 155.086 mph on Sept. 13.
Altogether, the members of the Crew Chief Club have 15 top-five finishes
In the past two MBNA 400s, three of the four members of the Crew Chief Club have placed in the top-five. Last year, McReynolds and Dale Earnhardt finished second, Makar and Labonte finished fourth, and Parrott and Dale Jarrett finished fifth. In the 1996 event, Pemberton and Rusty Wallace finished second, Parrott and Jarrett finished third, and Makar and Labonte finished fourth.
DID YOU LEARN ANYTHING AT DOVER IN JUNE THAT YOU'LL TAKE BACK WITH YOU WHEN THE SERIES RETURNS TO DOVER THIS WEEKEND?
Jimmy Makar - Interstate Batteries Pontiac of Bobby Labonte - "We haven't changed much at Dover over the years. We can typically run fairly well there. We've had a few problems qualifying there as of late, but we've had some success qualifying there too. So, we're going to try to improve our qualifying just a little bit this time and get back into the top-10 form that I feel this team is capable of. We always seem to be a bridesmaid in the race - run in the top-five all day but we're never able to win. It's one of those race tracks that we really want to put a lot of effort into since we've been so close so many times."
Larry McReynolds - Lowe's Home Improvement Chevrolet of Mike Skinner - "Dover will be another one of those races tracks where I haven't been with Mike yet. But when I look at the performance of the three and the 31 back there in June, hopefully we learned a lot of things not to do because neither car really ran that well. We had a good run with Dale there a year ago - finished third. Dover's a tough race track obviously. We're certainly tickled to death that they took 100 miles off of it. I think that it makes for a better show for everybody, from the competitors to the crews to the drivers and to the fans. But Dover is a tough race track even with 100 miles taken off it. Getting your car to stay the same throughout the entire day. You fall off into those corners awfully fast. You're not off the throttle very long for a mile race track. And getting your car to handle there consistently all day is a tough task, but if you're going to win the race, it's something you've got to work really hard on."
Todd Parrott - Ford Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Ford of Dale Jarrett - "We had a really good car. It wasn't the best car, as the 24 car was the class of the field. We just got lucky and won the race on fuel mileage. That only happens very rarely with us. That was the last race we won this year, so we're looking forward to going back. We're taking the same car and we've done a lot of work to it to try and make it better. Hopefully, we can use some of the same stuff that we had at the first race."
Robin Pemberton - Miller Lite Ford of Rusty Wallace - "Our fuel mileage was terrible and it cost us a lap early in the race. Performance is really the most important thing you work on, but we learned a valuable lesson on fuel mileage up there. The car handled well. We'll probably make a few small changes from there, but we want to make sure we can run as long as anybody else on gas."
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB IN WINSTON CUP RACING?
Jimmy Makar: "My first real job - well my dad had a Cup car that we ran a few times. That's how I got introduced into racing when we did a real limited schedule back in the late 70's. But my first real job in racing was with Harry Hyde. He had Todd Scott driving his cars back in 1980 or something like that. It was pretty interesting. It was a great place to go to work. Harry Hyde is one of the greatest, I feel like, one of the greatest mechanics in racing that's ever been. I was really fortunate to get to be around him for two or three years and pretty much shadow him and learn everything that he knew about racing. It gave me a good base to go out on my own when I had the opportunity to be on my own. So, I feel like I had a really good opportunity that a lot of people don't always get. To learn and study under a guy that's been around for that many years, had that much success in the sport, and was that much of an innovator in the sport was awesome."
Larry McReynolds: "It was 1980 and I answered a classified ad in a NASCAR newsletter about a new Winston Cup team that was forming in Greenville, S.C., that was going to run all the races in 1981 with a rookie driver by the name of Don Sprouse. I called them and ended up talking to the owner's daughter about what I'd like to do and what they were looking for. I figured that I was about one in 10 million phone calls that they got, so I figured I'd never hear from them again. But fortunately, about two weeks later they called me back and wanted me to come up and try it for a couple of weeks - see if I liked them, see if they liked me. So, I went up there and worked for a couple of weeks and they asked if I was interested in staying, and I said, 'Absolutely!' We negotiated a salary that would probably scare you to death as far as going to live on your own in North Carolina being from Birmingham, Ala. I think it was $300 or $350 per week or something. But I went back to Birmingham and packed a U-Haul trailer with everything I could get into it, and away to Greenville I went. I've been in the Carolinas ever since. The thing about it is that there were three of us who were full-time. There were no specialists, everybody had to be a specialist in everything - you had to clean the wheels, drive the truck, put the engines in, take the engines out, and pack the wheel bearings. Pretty much all three of us, including one of them being the crew chief, had to do a little bit of everything. But that was kind of the nature of the beast back in the early 80's in Winston Cup racing."
Todd Parrott: "I cleaned toilets and swept floors, and let's see what else did I do? . . . emptied trash cans for my dad at the Levi Garrett team back in the 80's. It was with Ron Benfield with Morgan Shepherd as the driver. I started more on the mechanical-side after I graduated from high school in '83."
Robin Pemberton: "My first job in Winston Cup racing was working at Petty Enterprises in '79 when Kyle (Petty) started to drive. I was a fabricator, they hired me as a fabricator, so it was a great experience working for those people."
IS THAT WHAT STARTED YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH KYLE AT TEAM SABCO?
"Yeah. We had always been friends, he's just a few years younger than I am, and we were great friends through the four-and-a-half years I was over there, and also later when I worked at SABCO. It was a good relationship."