Local Racers Cramming For “Midseason Exams”
By DAVE MOODY
racers at Barre’s
diplomas will be handed out tonight, no degrees awarded, no one named Magna Cum
Laude. But the results of tonight’s “Times-Argus Midseason
Championships” – like a college midterm exam -- will go a long way
toward determining the final grades for the year. Point leaders Phil Scott (Late
Model), Reno Gervais (NAPA Flying Tiger Sportsmen) and Brendan Moodie, Jr.,
(Allen Lumber Street Stock) have all earned solid “A’s” in the first
semester, and tonight’s double-point main events could either cement their
status as the men to beat, or toss them into a black hole they’ll spend the
rest of the season climbing out of.
the three, two-time champion Scott seems to be the best bet. After winning the
Thursday night opener on June 6, the racing Senator from
meanwhile, has a bit more company at the top of his division, despite an
enviable record that has seem him finish among the top 10 in six of his seven
Thunder Road starts. The “King of the
meanwhile, surged to the head of the Street Stock class with a season-best
second place finish in last week’s rain delayed WDEV Radio Trophy Dash,
followed by an eighth-place run in the regularly scheduled Coca-Cola main event.
Like Gervais, “Little Brendan” has strung together an impressive series of
top-15 finishes in a notoriously competitive division, and while his slim,
27-point lead over Rusty “The Logger” Dewees virtually guarantees more
shuffling at the top of the Crunch Bunch points list, the second-generation
driver has matured into a bonafide title contender.
championships will be won tonight at
Confirming what we first reported here a week ago, Shelburne’s Kevin Lepage said Monday that he has a contract in hand to steer the Brewco Motorsports/Timber Wolf Busch Series Chevrolet next season, if he wants to.
“We have a contract for 2003,” said Lepage, “but nobody has signed it yet. With so many Winston Cup rides up in the air right now, they have agreed to let me test the waters and see what might be available for next year. In return, they have the option to put someone else in the car for the last six races of this season, if we don’t have a signed deal by then.”
Lepage said he has enjoyed his
stint in the #37 car, replacing Jeff Purvis, who was injured two months ago at
“I had one (Cup) offer a few months ago, but it wasn’t a good one,” he said. “I turned it down, because at this stage of my career, I have no interest in running at the back of the back. I would rather be with a championship-caliber Busch Series team like Brewco Motorsports than a struggling Winston Cup operation.
“I’m going to keep my eyes and ears open for the next few weeks, but I’ve told (Brewco owner) Clarence Brewer that if there’s nothing there by September 1, I’ll sign the contract and be ready to go for 2003. In fact, I’ll sign a multi-year deal if that’s what he wants to do.”
With Bobby Labonte and Tony
Stewart defecting to the Chevrolet camp next season, General Motors brass is
reportedly considering withdrawing the
That’s where Cal Wells comes in.
Wells, owner of Ricky Craven’s
PPI Motorsports/Tide Racing Team, is being courted by the
“Our current relationships (with Ford) are good relationships with real good people,” said Wells last week at Daytona. “But this is a unique window of opportunity. It’s good for the ego. I don’t want to make anyone unhappy. I just want to do what’s best for Tide.”
If he stays with Ford, Wells knows he will continue to play second (or third, or fourth) fiddle behind juggernauts Robert Yates, Jack Roush and Roger Penske. It’s a role he has accepted, but doesn’t necessarily enjoy.
“We haven’t earned an
opportunity like that,” he said. “The guys that are there have earned it,
and will be there for life. To catch those guys would take an awful long time.
An alliance with
“That’s to hit the ground running at Daytona (next season) and keep the total existing program running unencumbered,” Wells said. “It is a significant amount, no question about it, but we would be able to manage that part of it. It’s not the biggest stumbling block.”
The PPI Motorsports owner admitted that he’s on a very short timetable to make a decision.
“We need to know where we’re headed,” he said. “Realistically, it should have been (decided) a while ago. But the facts are, it just isn’t.”
After weeks of having his future
dissected in the media, Steve Park has had enough. The
"Until June 15, DEI had the right of first refusal as far as signing a contract,” said Park at Daytona. “Now, I'm a `free agent’ as far as next season goes. If they decide I'm good for the team and we're going to stick together and try to win races, then that's fine. (But) if they have other ideas of what they want, I'm not going to be around for them to fall back on."
Park’s current sponsor,
Pennzoil, announced last week that it will return as sponsor of the #1 car next
season. But the
"They talked about a one-year deal. With a one-year deal, this time next year we'll be in the same exact boat, and that doesn't interest me," he said. "All I read about is Steve Park is hanging on to his job, and I'm tired of hearing that. We can win races, (but) if management feels like the team needs to be torn apart, I can't do anything to change their decision. Either I'm their driver, and they have confidence that I can get the job done, or get somebody else.
Park said the current situation is an insult to the memory of DEI’s
founder, the late Dale Earnhardt.
“If I didn’t do a good job, he’d tell me straight out and I’d be
gone,” said Park. “No beating around the bush. He wouldn’t make you feel
like a second-rate guy. All the stuff that’s going on right now would not be
going on if he was here.
“It’s easy to point the finger at me, but if you go back and look at
how we’ve run, either we’ve had bad luck, or had the car break or the engine
blow up or something. If they think a driver change is in order, then they will
do it, not matter what I do or say. If they feel I can’t win here, then I’m
going to go beat them somewhere else.”
While Park seethes, teammate
Michael Waltrip seems to have successfully dug himself out of a identical career
hole. In Daytona’s Victory Lane Saturday night, DEI Executive Vice President
Ty Norris said his number two driver has “solidified his position” in the
last two months. “He decided to put this team up on his shoulders and carry it
to where it has been,” said Norris. “He's has a lot of top-fives and
top-10s, he's been qualifying really well, and this is the icing on the
The saga of Ricky Rudd continues. Rudd says he made current owner Robert Yates an offer to stay in Yates’ #28 Havoline Ford next season, but did not receive a positive response. Anxious to avoid the kind of silly season upheaval that has dogged the team this season, Yates wants Rudd to sign a multi-year contact. Rudd, however, is insisting on a one-year pact.
"I've been spoiled by some good runs here lately,” said Rudd this week. “If I could get Robert to agree to a one-year agreement, then retirement would not happen this year."
Rudd would clearly prefer to
remain with Yates’ championship contending team, but the
While Rudd may be close to signing with Petree, current driver Bobby Hamilton is on his way out.
"I don't like change,”
While the sponsorship situation on that team is secure for next season, Kyle Petty’s #45 Dodge is in the hunt for a new backer. Petty said last Friday that Sprint will not return as major sponsor of the team in 2003.
"We continue to keep our options open with Sprint, and we fully expect that we will continue to be involved with them in some way,” said Petty, “but the bottom line is that Sprint has not exercised its option to continue as primary sponsor. We need to look at other opportunities for the #45 Dodge.
Short (Track) Subjects…
…It may not pack the star
power that it used to, but the 29th Annual “True Value 250” rolls
to the line this Sunday at
…Our Quote of the Week comes from Michael Waltrip in Victory Lane at Daytona, after driving through a backstretch blizzard of seat cushions, beer cans and trash thrown by irate fans, after NASCAR allowed Saturday night’s “Pepsi 400” to finish under the caution flag. In his words: "I thought they were congratulating me. I thought it was like a ticker-tape parade. You mean they were mad? I'm so stupid sometimes."
week’s schedule begins tonight with the aforementioned “Times-Argus
Midseason Championships” at
At Riverside Speedway in Groveton, NH, the Flying
Tiger/Sportsmen will make up last week’s rained out feature Saturday night as
part of their “Budweiser Midseason Championship,” along with a 50-lap
ACT Tri-State Street Stock/Cyclone Special, with a post time of 7:05 p.m. White
Mountain Motorsports Park in North Woodstock, NH, features a full card of Super
Street, Strictly Street, Strictly Mini, Mini-Cup and Late Model racing that
night as well, beginning at 7:00.
The NEKC Kart Tour returns home to
Barre’s Thunder Road Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m., while Sunday
night at West Haven’s Devil’s Bowl Speedway, it’s “Full Fender
Frenzy,” featuring a 100 Lap Enduro, 50-lap Hobby Stock feature, 30 laps
for the Cruisers, post time 7:00.