NASCAR WCUP: Crew Chief Club at the UAW-GM Quality 500
1 October 1998Event: UAW-GM Quality 500 When: Sun., Oct. 4 at 1:10 p.m. EDT on TBS
Where: Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway (1.5-mile oval)
Together, Jimmy Makar, Larry McReynolds, Todd Parrott and Robin Pemberton have led their drivers to 63 wins, 344 top-five finishes, 550 top-10 finishes and 64 poles prior to this Sunday's UAW-GM Quality 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Parrott and Dale Jarrett are the defending champions of the UAW-GM Quality 500. They finished the race in 3 hours, 28 minutes and 17 seconds with an average speed of 144.323 mph. Their margin of victory over runner-up Bobby Labonte was 4.142 seconds.
In last year's UAW-GM Quality 500, the Crew Chief Club finished 1-2-3. Parrott and Jarrett were first, followed by Makar and Labonte in second and McReynolds and Earnhardt in third.
McReynolds chiefed Ernie Irvan to a track record finish in the 1993 Mello Yello 500. Their average speed of 154.537 mph enabled them to finish the race in 3 hours, 14 minutes and 31 seconds on Oct. 10 of that year.
The Crew Chief Club has three wins and three poles at Charlotte's fall race. The wins were provided by Parrott and Jarrett in 1997, McReynolds and Jarrett in 1994 and McReynolds and Irvan in 1993. The poles were provided by Makar and Labonte in 1996, Pemberton and Mark Martin in 1991 and McReynolds and Brett Bodine in 1990. (This was Bodine's first career NASCAR Winston Cup pole.)
In last year's UAW-GM Quality 500, the Crew Chief Club finished in the following order:
Parrott/Jarrett Start: 5th Finish: 1st Status: Running Makar/Labonte Start: 2nd Finish: 2nd Status: Running McReynolds/Earnhardt Start: 19th Finish: 3rd Status: Running Pemberton/Wallace Start: 25th Finish: 12th Status: Running
All four members of the Crew Chief Club will be signing autographs on Sat., Oct. 3, 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 CHARLOTTE?
Jimmy Makar - Interstate Batteries Pontiac of Bobby Labonte - "At Charlotte, you've really got to work the race as the race unfolds. There's not really a way that you can go at it for getting a tire sampling of whether or not to get two tires or four tires at a particular instance. That's obviously from last year - the way the race unfolded by teams getting two tires or four. You might come down to a situation like that again. It's just going to be a matter of making your choice depending on where you are, what your track position is, and how your car's been handling all day - those sort of things. It's a little difficult to start with a scenario of what you're going to do. You obviously need to have track position, run near the front, and really, waiting until the end of the race is the biggest key. At the beginning of the race, the car is going to be driving quite a bit different than it does at the end. So you really won't be too concerned. You just want to get through that first segment of the race and have your car ready to go for the last third of the race. That's when you want to be good."
Larry McReynolds - Lowe's Home Improvement Chevrolet of Mike Skinner - "You know you want to try to work hard in practice getting the best fuel mileage you can. The tires that Goodyear has there always seem to be a pretty good tire. You won't run as long as you can on fuel, so sometimes it comes down to a fuel mileage race. It's no different than the 19 other racetracks we go to. Getting your car to be good on long green runs, especially at the end of a run, cars tend to want to push really bad at Charlotte. Getting your car to turn from the center out is something that everybody will have to work on the entire week that we're out there. There's good news and bad news to Charlotte. The bad news is that we're there for five days. The good part about that is you do have an ample amount of practice. It does give you a chance to try some things, almost like you would to some degree at a test session. I've always enjoyed racing at Charlotte. You like to win anywhere, but there's something special about winning at Charlotte, because you know a lot of your guys at the shop that don't get to come to the racetrack are at Charlotte, and they like to see their stuff run well there."
Todd Parrott - Ford Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Ford of Dale Jarrett - "We won the race there last October. We didn't have the best car. Bobby Labonte had the best car. We're taking a car we feel really good about. As you heard Robert (Yates) say in Bristol, we're going to try not to run out of gas and hopefully not run out of oil and everybody heard the rest of it. It's a good car. A lot of pressure is on us there at Charlotte. Not really a lot of pressure, but with the Batman deal going on it ought to be pretty exciting. We're looking forward to it. As far as pit strategy goes, you just want to take care of the tires and not run out of gas."
Robin Pemberton - Miller Lite Ford of Rusty Wallace - "We learned some valuable lessons there in the spring. We've finished second there quite a few times in the last few years with Rusty. We're always the odd man out on a two tire or four tire strategy. We took two on last year and the four tire car beat us. And the year before, we took four and the two tire car beat us. One thing we learned is that anything is possible. As far as strategy goes, fuel mileage is going to be a problem over there. It's a day race and we do all of our practicing during the day. Try to be the leader and do what the leaders do as far as pit strategy goes. It should be a good race."
IS CHARLOTTE A DIFFERENT RACETRACK IN OCTOBER COMPARED TO WHAT IT WAS LIKE BACK IN MAY?
Jimmy Makar: "We don't see a lot of difference. Charlotte's Charlotte. It's been the same way. It seems like every time you go back there for the last several years it's the same old thing. It's different in the day than it is at night. The changes that happen during the course of the race happen in the fall and in the spring too. So we'll be expecting the same kind of conditions that we had back in the spring."
Larry McReynolds: "I think the characteristics are still the same. In May, even though it's pretty warm, we do run most of the race at night. We run in the day in October, but it's a lot cooler of course. I mean, I've been there in October and it's been 40 degrees, and I've been there and it's been 80 degrees. It's not been a predictable type of race weather-wise until you actually get into the week of Charlotte. But I can say that it has a lot of the same characteristics, and that's pushing. Everybody at Charlotte, you always hear them saying, 'We pushed. We pushed.' So getting your car to turn once those tires are warm while you've got a low fuel load is important."
Todd Parrott: "Yeah. Every time you get on a racetrack like Charlotte, you know the sun's been beating down on turns three and four all summer. It'll be a lot looser racetrack probably than what it was in May. Obviously, we're going to be racing in the day-time rather than the night-time, so the track will be different."
Robin Pemberton: "It's typical Charlotte. Charlotte never changes. The difference will be that you run during the day and you might have to pull a little more gear or something like that. But you know, it's been the same old Charlotte for years."
WITH JUST SIX RACES REMAINING, WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE YOUR TEAM ACHIEVE BEFORE THE END OF THE SEASON?
Jimmy Makar: "We really feel like we've got some of our stronger races coming up here in the next few weeks. Our restrictor plate race program has been on a pretty good high this year. We're really looking forward to getting back to Daytona and Talladega. We feel like we have really good chances there. Charlotte's one of our better racetracks and we feel like we've got a good shot there. Atlanta is one our better racetracks, so there's another opportunity there. The next few races we have, most of them are on racetracks that we have won on or can win on. We feel really confident that, barring any unforeseen circumstances that are out of our control, we should be able to be a contender to win some of these races. So that would be a goal from a race standpoint. The points thing - to finish in the top-five is what we want to do. The circumstances of the last few races - we've been taken out of a couple here in the last few by other cars. But we were running really well when those incidents happened, but you can't control that. It's part of the business. It's sort of taken us out of contention for beating the (No.) 2 car for fourth place, but then again, anything can happen. He's got to have a lot of bad luck for us to get to that spot. So really, right now we're looking at a solid fifth if we do everything right. That's what we want to do - finish fifth in the points."
Larry McReynolds: "Well, with Mike missing three races during the first part of the season we've got kind of a two-fold situation. His driver points are not as high as our owner points. But when you look at the points and you look at how many races are left, if we can get Mike into the top-20, I think that's a very reachable goal. He's 25th right now, and that's really neat. Because when you look at his statistics, he's run three less races than most of the guys, but yet he's ahead of a lot of the guys that have run all the races in points. I think that ought to be pretty satisfying for him and the race team. So if we can get him 19th or 20th, I think that's probably about as high as we can get him in points. And if we can get the (No.) 31 car up there around 16th or 17th in owner points, along with winning a race or sitting on a pole this year, I think everybody will sit back and say we salvaged quite a bit out of this season."
Todd Parrott: "We're looking forward to going to the speedways. We've got some good cars for Daytona and Talladega. We're really looking forward to all the races we have left, because we run good at all of them. Right now, the only way I think anybody is going to beat the 24 car is if he didn't show up for about two or three races. Those guys are awfully consistent and they've been good all year long. Realistically, we'd like to duplicate where we finished last year in the points, and that's second. Mark and those guys have been awfully strong too, so it's going to be tough to do that. We don't want to finish any worse than where we're at. We just want to try and better ourselves." Robin Pemberton: "We've got a good shot at winning everything from here on out. We had a great race at Atlanta. We ran good at Phoenix last year. Rockingham - we're a proven winner there. We've got a number of second place finishes at Charlotte. Anything is possible from here on out. We're going to work as hard as we can like we've done all year. Hopefully, we can pull off a couple of wins. Mathematically, we might have a shot at second. Realistically, we've got an outside shot at third, as we're currently fourth in points. The car behind us is pretty close, and there are two more behind us who are close, but maybe not close enough to get us. We've got our sights set on gaining at least one more spot."