Lowe's Motor Speedway President H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler has decided to push for one of his pet ideas to improve Winston Cup racing for the fans--the addition of numbers to pit crew uniforms.
"I call upon everyone in NASCAR racing to follow through on this concept," Wheeler said Thursday. "I have talked to NASCAR about it. I even performed the Humpy Chinese Water Torture Drip on the head for a while, and they have finally begun to think it might not be too bad of an idea. Maybe we can get it done."
Wheeler's idea would be for every crew member to have a uniform number. Each team's crew chief would wear No. 1, the gas man would wear No. 2 and so on, with the number being the same for each crew position on each team.
"If the jack man makes a great move or if the tire carrier messes up, then we have a name to put on television," Wheeler said. "Nobody can deny these guys going over the wall are athletes, and as we progress, they are becoming better athletes. They are personalities and we need to let the world know who these people are."
Getting His Hands Dirty
Andy Petree, owner of the No. 33 and No. 55 Chevrolets in the Winston Cup series, said he is looking forward to returning to his role as crew chief next season. Ken Schrader is leaving the No. 33 car, and Joe Nemechek will take over driving duties next season.
Petree decided after hiring Nemechek he needed to return to a more active role with his team.
"The 55 team was able to function on its own this year and it took a lot of my attention on the 33 car trying to keep it up to snuff," he said. "I've missed being a bigger part of that.
"I feel like I need to get back in it. I'm strong on the technical side. I really like the hands-on approach."
Although time is running out for Wally Dallenbach Jr. at Hendrick Motorsports, he'd like to make his mark with the three-car team before he leaves.
Dallenbach, to be replaced after this season by Jerry Nadeau, hopes he'll have a shot at his first victory today. But Dallenbach, who already has a new job for next year with Butch Mock, insists that what others term his "lame duck" status doesn't bother him.
"The better I do, the better I get paid," he said. "That's some incentive. Money does motivate me, and anyone who says it doesn't is not shooting straight."
Finding His Inspiration
Jimmy Spencer, who will make his best start at Lowe's Motor Speedway when he lines up seventh for today's UAW-GM Quality 500, said Nemechek's win at New Hampshire last month showed him "the light at the end of the tunnel."
"Nemechek was kind of a fluke in a way because he hadn't been running good, and then all at once he stumbles on something and wins," said Spencer, whose last Winston Cup win came in July 1994 at Talladega. "So that tells you that anybody can do that on a given weekend."
Making Some Changes
Rick Mast's No. 98 Ford team has undergone some changes this week with the loss of crew chief Mark Tutor. Mast, who qualified eighth for today's UAW-GM Quality 500, will help make race-day decisions along with team manager Garth Finley and Dan Gloutz.
Mast said Gloutz has already been working in-house with Yarborough Motorsports preparing for a second team to run a full schedule next season as a teammate to Mast. The driver for that team will be Mike Ciochetti, a regular in the Automobile Racing Club of America series.
When Steve Park raced at Lowe's Motor Speedway in May, crew chief Paul Andrews was in his first week on the job and engineer Dave Charpentier had just joined his team.
Park was 30th in the points standings going into the Coca-Cola 600, but he led 84 laps that night before being involved in a crash. Still, he picked up momentum and has moved up to 18th in the points race since May.
Upcoming event: UAW-GM Quality 500, Concord, N.C., today
1. Dale Jarrett: 4,276
2. Bobby Labonte: 4,025
3. Mark Martin: 4,000
4. Tony Stewart: 3,898
5. Jeff Burton: 3,869
6. Jeff Gordon: 3,851
7. Dale Earnhardt: 3,732
8. Rusty Wallace: 3,395
9. Mike Skinner: 3,192
10. Ward Burton: 3,187
1. Jeff Gordon: $4,806,141
2. Jeff Burton: $4,688,921
3. Dale Jarrett: $3,119,094
4. Bobby Labonte: $2,748,916
5. Dale Earnhardt: $2,333,099
6. Mark Martin: $2,270,736
7. Terry Labonte: $2,022,341
8. Tony Stewart: $1,967,621
9. Mike Skinner: $1,859,676
10. Rusty Wallace: $1,838,224
-- Through NAPA AutoCare 500, Oct. 3
Busch Grand National
Upcoming event: Rockingham 200, Rockingham, N.C., Oct. 23
1. Dale Earnhardt Jr.: 3,828
2. Matt Kenseth: 3,715
3. Jeff Green: 3,614
4. Todd Bodine: 3,346
5. Elton Sawyer: 3,257
6. Jeff Purvis: 3,197
7. Jason Keller: 3,110
8. Randy LaJoie: 2,972
9. Dave Blaney: 2,963
10. Mike McLaughlin: 2,829
-- Through MBNA Gold 200,