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Schrader Grabs Pole for NAPA Auto Parts 300

10 February 1999

Daytona Beach, FL-February 9, 1999

Veteran Winston Cup racer Kenny Schrader drove his Oakwood Homes Chevrolet to the pole position for Saturdays's NAPA Auto Parts 300. With a time of 47.402 seconds for a speed of 189.865mph Schrader nicked the time of Randy LaJoie who turned in a lap of 47.453 seconds. Schrader, who is well-known for never missing a chance to race anything, took his third career pole in the Busch Series. Schrader's qualifying effort came toward the end of the session. 65 cars are attempting to make the 43 car-field which will be comprised of 38 cars plus 5 provisionals.

The competition in the Busch Series gets more intense every year. In past year's the starting field would be covered by 2-3 seconds. Not any more. From Schrader's time of 47.402 to spot # 46 (Joe Bessey-Powerteam #6) is covered by less than one second. In the time it takes to wave your hand back and forth is about one second. When you do that motion, you are also waving bye-bye which is what 22 of the driver's will be doing tomorrow.

Randy Lajoie in the Phoenix Racing Chevrolet #1 car was on pole position after knocking off Mike McLaughlin in the Goulds Pumps Chevrolet. Lajoie, who will start on the outside pole position, was not real confident that his time would hold up. His prognostication was correct but not by much. 51 hundredth's separate Schrader from LaJoie. Barely the blink of an eye.

Schrader, in a post-race interview, was understandably jubilant. "The car was set-up great and all I had to do was just drive. Now we have to prepare for our race set-up."

The Busch Series is 32 races long this year. Just one race shorter than their older Winston Cup brothers. The transformation of the series into a stand alone racing platform rather than a continual support series for the Winston Cup has taken about 10 years. The series is continually filled with driver's from Winston Cup series (Schrader, Michael Waltrip, Joe Nemechek, Jeff Burton, Derrike Cope, Terry Labonte, Mark Martin, Dick Trickle, Johnny Benson and Steve Grissom) that sometimes you think that maybe you are watching a Winston Cup race.

So what to look for in 1999? Well the obvious answer is the emergence of Dale Earnhardt,Jr. who is part of the third-generation of modern day Winston Cup racing. Earnhardt, Jr. turned in a respectable time of 47.900 seconds for a speed of 187.891 mph. The defending Busch champion will make an announced five Winston Cup starts this year. The lessons of splitting the time between the two garages will be another learning curve. The other person that people are expecting great things from is Adam Petty, son of Kyle Petty. Adam's qualifying time of 47.931 seconds for a speed of 187.778 mph was great considering the fact that the young man is a rookie at Daytona.

Tomorrow is the second and final day of qualifying. People on the bubble or potential bubble is a group of names that you would not expect to see on the bottom of the list. Names like Geoffrey Bodine, Morgan Shepard, Elton Sawyer and Hermie Sadler. But considering the fact that from first to last is 1.8 seconds. About the time it would take you to do two hand waves. Unfortunately some of those names will be saying bye-bye come tomorrow.

David Treffer -- The Auto Channel