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NASCAR Winston Cup Series Notebook: Thursday, Charlotte Motor Speedway

3 October 1997

NASCAR Winston Cup Series
Thursday Notebook
UAW-GM Quality 500
Charlotte Motor Speedway
October 2, 1997



With four races remaining on the schedule following Sunday's UAW-GM Quality 
500, Geoff Bodine became the 18th different pole winner in 1997 breaking the 
modern era record for the most pole winners in a season since 1972. The 
previous high was 17 in 1994. Bodine and Ernie Irvan ended that year in a tie 
for the most Busch Pole Awards with five apiece. 


Kevin Lepage turned a lap at 181.763 mph to give LJ Racing a solid 12th-place 
starting position for Sunday's 500-mile event. The team's previous best start 
was 17th at Darlington Raceway in March and again at Pocono Raceway in June 
with driver Mike Wallace. The team has struggled all season utilizing a 
number of different drivers including Lepage, who failed to qualify for the 
CMT at New Hamsphire International Speedway last month. 

"That's a load off my shoulders," said Lepage after climbing from the No. 91 
Pionite Chevrolet. "We just wanted to get in the field and turn a good lap. 
These guys have been struggling and I kind of let 'em down at New Hampshire. 
We tested here last week and it looks like it paid off. I really nailed 
(turns) one and two, but I probably gave up a little bit in three and four."


Jeff Purvis turned in a tremendous qualifying effort to start his No. 12 
Opryland USA Chevrolet eighth on the starting grid for Sunday's race. Purvis' 
only other two starts this season came at Indianapolis Motor Speedway where 
he started 28th and finished 37th and Darlington Raceway on Labor Day Weekend 
where he started 22nd and finished 38th. 

"I was hoping we'd pick up from practice," said Purvis, "but I didn't have 
any idea that we'd pick up that much. I about lost it 10 times. Qualifying in 
the top 10 is a big accomplishment on any track on the Winston Cup circuit, 
but to do it at Charlotte is just almost unbelievable. Now we need to go to 
work on the car and get ready for 500 miles on Sunday."


Rusty Wallace's post-race comments following Monday's Hanes 500 drew the ire 
of NASCAR in the form of a $5,000 fine. Wallace was more than a little miffed 
about a stop and go penalty he received for jumping the restart while leading 
late in the event. What looked like a possible second victory for Wallace 
this season turned into a 15th-place finish. 

Rusty explained the reason for the fine as he understands it, "After the race 
was over, they (MRN) interviewed me and I said, 'I don't give a blank about 
myself, because I've won a lot of races. But I feel really bad for the team.' 
And they (NASCAR) didn't like it. I used (the wrong) word, and they didn't 
like it. So they fined me $5,000. To me, it's just kinda like adding insult 
to injury. I still feel like the win got taken away from me. Now, I get 
fined. That's racing. Sometimes when you get down and in bad shape and you 
are laying on the ground with your face up, they stick their heel right in 
your face, so I got that again."

When asked he would try to put it behind him, Rusty replied, "What else can 
you do? They've got the stick. I love running NASCAR, and as long as I want 
to run NASCAR, I've got to play by the rules. That's OK. I'll pay out that 
$5,000 and go racing."


Morgan Shepherd, who reunited with Precision Products Racing at Dover Downs 
International Speedway two weeks ago, put the No. 1 R&L Carrier Pontiac 10th 
on the starting grid. Shepherd started the first 13 races of the season for 
the Richard Jackson owned team before replacing Bobby Hillin behind the wheel 
of the No. 77 Jasper Engines Ford for 12 races. It was the Conover, NC 
resident's first top-ten start of the season. 

"In practice we had a shock rubbing in the right front," said Shepherd. "We 
were lucky we didn't plug a left front tire out. The guys moved a shock mount 
and we got that taken care of, but the last run there we were still dragging. 
We stuck a rubber in the right front just for safety, because I knew if the 
car hit the pavement that it would mess our lap up."