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NASCAR Winston Cup Series Mountain Dew 500 Preview: #41 Steve Grissom

27 August 1997

 #41 Steve Grissom, Kodiak Chevrolet Monte Carlo 
 NASCAR Winston Cup Series
 Mountain Dew Southern 500
 Darlington Raceway

DARLINGTON, SC - When Kodiak driver Steve Grissom crossed the finish line at 
Bristol Motor Speedway in fifth place last Saturday night, it was not only a 
testament to the strength and handling of the #41 Kodiak Chevrolet, but it 
was also an indication of how competitive the Kodiak Team can be. 

Grissom started 35th in that race and despite having to pit on the 
backstretch, he was running in the sixth position before 200 laps had been 
completed of the 500-lap event. Quick stops by the Kodiak pit crew kept 
Grissom on the lead lap at that demanding half-mile short track, and a real 
contender for the win at the end. 

The strong showing at Bristol quickly vaulted Grissom three spots in the 
Winston Cup Championship points standings from 27th to 24th place. That's the 
kind of surge Grissom and the Kodiak Team have in mind for this weekend's 
Mountain Dew Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

Grissom and the Kodiak Team have another special incentive for success at 
Darlington this week. They missed making the field for the TranSouth 400 at 
Darlington in the spring. It's the only race they have failed to run all 
season. That really hurt their pride, but it also made them more determined 
to improve their performances. 

"Without a doubt, we want to redeem ourselves at Darlington," said Grissom. 
"When you work hard preparing the car, make practice runs, adjust and set-up 
the car, work on it some more, then not get to race -- that really hurts. 
Nobody in this sport wants to go home before the race.

"Every one of us is highly competitive," Grissom stated. "I drive the car, 
but the rest of the guys on this Kodiak Team are driven to excel, too, to 
succeed and aim for victory. That's what propels us. We definitely got a 
wake-up call at Darlington in the spring."

Grissom continued, "With that in mind, we've made extra effort this time, to 
do a lot better at Darlington. We don't want a repeat, so we put in a strong 
test session for two days there a couple of weeks ago. We didn't break any 
records, or anything like that. We were just trying to get a better handle on 
things, and we feel like we're closing in on it. We'll definitely have a 
strong, competitive car.

"If it's anything like the car we had at Bristol last week, then we can be a 
factor again this week. That car was awesome. We were strong all night, and 
had a good chance at winning that race. That's what we want, to be 
competitive on a consistent basis."

Grissom recalled, "We said we wanted to have a lot stronger second half to 
this season, and I think we're well on our way to proving that. In the last 
six races, we've had two top-five's (fourth at New Hampshire and fifth at 
Bristol) and a top 10 (ninth at Watkins Glen).

"We've also made some advancement in the points standings," added Grissom. 
"That proves we're gaining on that competitive edge we want. The cars have 
been strong, the engines powerful, and last week we had some of racing's 
fortunes go our way at Bristol. It's better to be going up in the points, 
rather than down. Right now, we're on the upswing, and we're working to keep 
it that way."

Said Grissom, "When you have a performance like we did last week at Bristol, 
that really gives you and everybody on the team a strong shot of confidence, 
and that's the way we're approaching Darlington and the Southern 500 this 
week, with our sights on making another potent run."

About the reconfiguration of the famed Darlington track (switching the 
start/finish line to the opposite side of the track), Grissom said, "A lot 
has been discussed about that, but really, they didn't change the track. The 
walls are still in the same place, the banking is the same. It's not really 
going to be that different from a driving standpoint. About the only thing I 
see is that at the start of the race, and on the restarts after cautions, you 
won't have quite as much speed and everybody will be diving for that single 
low groove in the new turn one (old turn three).

"When the start/finish line was back on the other side, you could race two 
cars deep into the old turn one without much trouble, and you had about 
three-quarters of a lap to get things sorted out. Under the new situation, 
you won't have that much time on the starts to get prepared for that entry 
into the new turn one. Otherwise, the racing should be the same. It's 
Darlington, and it can jump up and bite you at any time, if you're not on 
your toes every lap."

By Muhleman Marketing