NASCAR WCUP: Crew Chief Club at the NAPA AutoCare 500
23 September 1998Event: NAPA AutoCare 500
When: Sun., Sept. 27 at 12:30 p.m. EDT on ESPN
Where: Martinsville (Va.) Speedway (.526-mile oval)
Together, Jimmy Makar, Larry McReynolds, Todd Parrott and Robin Pemberton have led their drivers to 63 wins, 344 top-five finishes, 549 top-10 finishes and 64 poles prior to this Sunday's NAPA AutoCare 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
One crew chief who knows what it takes to make a car qualify quickly at Martinsville is Pemberton. When he was with Roush Racing as Ted Musgrave's head wrench, the duo set a track qualifying record on Sept. 23, 1994. Musgrave lapped the .526-mile oval in 20.117 seconds with an average speed of 94.129 mph.
Altogether, Pemberton has chiefed three different drivers to four poles in Martinsville's fall race - Musgrave in 1994, Kyle Petty in 1992 when the two were with Team SABCO, and Mark Martin in 1990 and 1991 at Roush Racing.
All four members of the Crew Chief Club will be signing autographs on Sat., Sept. 26 an hour and a half after the conclusion of happy hour. 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.
WHAT KIND OF RACE AND PIT STRATEGY WILL YOU EMPLOY AT MARTINSVILLE?
Jimmy Makar - Interstate Batteries Pontiac of Bobby Labonte - "It's going to be a track position type race. Most of the short tracks have gotten that way. Track position is a lot more important than your tires are most of the time in those places. So you won't be pitting every time there's a caution flying. Instead, you'll be staying out on the track until you get some more laps on your tires. And then there will be a period in time where you'll look at taking two tires instead of four - again for track position."
Larry McReynolds - Lowe's Home Improvement Chevrolet of Mike Skinner - "The whole thing about Martinsville that hasn't changed in a number of years is track position. It all starts on Friday with qualifying - making sure you get a good qualifying effort in to get a good pit spot on that frontstretch. When you watch the qualifying show on Friday when they televise it, they're not necessarily talking about who's making the top-25 or who's not. They're talking about who's making the frontstretch as far as the pits. You've got to have your car working well, and part of that means keeping good track position. Not having to pit for four new tires every time the caution comes out and being able to stay in front of the pack all day is key."
Todd Parrott - Ford Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Ford of Dale Jarrett - "The first thing I'm going to try to do is assume a pit position on the frontstretch. It's something we haven't done the last few times we've been there. We have a really good car. The guys went up there to test in April. I wasn't there, but they had a great test with a brand new car. It ran fast right off the truck and we were one of the fastest cars out there, but mysteriously we ended up on the backstretch again."
Robin Pemberton - Miller Lite Ford of Rusty Wallace - "It's really important to get a good qualifying run in to get a good choice in pits. When it comes to the race strategy, that would be to take care of your brakes for the first half or three quarters of the race, try to run in the lead pack and let the chips fall where they may."
WAS THERE ANYTHING YOU LEARNED BACK IN THE SPRING RACE AT MARTINSVILLE THAT YOU'LL EMPLOY THIS WEEKEND?
Jimmy Makar: "We tried some things in the first race that looked like they made our car better later in the race. Handling-wise, we're going to try to use the same setup that we'll start with at the beginning of the weekend."
Larry McReynolds: "This will be my first trip to Martinsville with Mike. I've had a lot of success at Martinsville with people who can get around that track awfully good. Davey Allison got around it really good. Ernie Irvan was awesome at Martinsville. The driver has to drive with the throttle pedal and the brake pedal as much as with the steering wheel. There's a lot of finessing and critiquing, especially on the driver's part. When it comes to the springs under the car, pretty much everyone in the whole field will have the same springs. There's a lot to be gained with shocks there and that's something we'll work hard on next week."
Todd Parrott: "Oh, yeah. We learned a lot at the last race. It was our best Martinsville finish. We finished third and we had a pretty good car. We weren't very good in practice Saturday afternoon, but when we came in Sunday morning, we said we've got to do something different. So we made a lot of changes to the car. The car was actually pretty good in the race."
Robin Pemberton: "We feel that we didn't have one of our better cars at the last race. We didn't finish as well as we had expected to, and there are a few things we know we need to change when we go back."
AS YOU GREW UP IN RACING AND THEN BECAME INVOLVED WITH THE SPORT, WHO WERE SOME OF THE PEOPLE THAT YOU LOOKED UP TO?
Jimmy Makar: "When I was a kid, it was the Pettys, the Wood Brothers, Bud Moore - those were the guys who were on top and winning all the races. The Wood Brothers were the people I looked up to the most. I had the opportunity to talk with them and work around them a lot when I first started racing and that was kind of neat."
Larry McReynolds: "The people I had a lot of admiration for when I first got into Winton Cup racing and kind of marveled at were people like Jake Elder, Herb Nabb, and I was always watching Junior Johnson in the way he handled himself. As I've grown in this sport I guess I've tried to set my own pattern, and maybe become a role model for other mechanics getting into this sport."
Todd Parrott: "I guess it would be Richard Childress because of the way he ran his race team. My dad, obviously I have a lot of respect for him. He's done a lot for the sport and has been around a lot of the race teams, so he's seen a lot of stuff and done a lot of stuff. I guess Harry Hyde was one too. He was one of the older guys who worked with my dad and he learned an awful lot from him, which I then learned from my dad. So I think those are some of the key people in the older generation."
Robin Pemberton: "I grew up as a fan of racing. Some of the people who I looked up to - the predecessors like Bud Moore, the whole Petty clan, Dale Inman and the people who were racing in the 60's when they ran all those races every year. They made it through that and they made it during times when sponsorships weren't really around. I look up to those people. If it weren't for those people putting up with all those problems of working around the clock like they did, we wouldn't be here today."