Pocono Notebook: Saturday

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LONG POND, Pa. – Kyle Petty laughs when he remembers the June 1993 race here. He was battling Davey Allison through the first turn when a fan climbed over an infield fence, ran across the backstretch, scaled the outside wall and scampered into the woods.

“That race has become almost legendary,” Petty said. “It’s amazing to me how many people will bring up that race, and they don’t remember I won it. All they remember is that guy climbing the fence in the infield, running across the track, climbing the wall and then disappearing. I tell you, I’ve seen a lot of things in racing, a lot of things that are pretty strange. But that might have been the strangest thing that’s ever happened.”

Imagine the look on the fans face when he saw a pack of cars heading his way at 170 mph.

“Davey and I were coming out of that first turn and the caution lights were on,” Petty said. “I was wondering, ‘Who spun?’ Then the guy caught my eye. At first, I thought it was a deer. They’ve had that problem at Pocono before. A deer will come through the tunnel, hear the noise and get scared and then just start running. Next thing you know, it’s on the track and, unfortunately, ends up as a hood ornament. Believe me, nothing will slow you down like a deer sitting in your engine.

“Anyway, it wasn’t a deer. It was this guy, running like crazy. That’s a pretty wide track, and when you have 43 cars aimed at you, I bet it looked as wide as the Pacific Ocean to that guy. He was nothing but eyeballs, believe me. That guy was scared, and he had every right to be.”

The fan later got lost in the woods and started a fire that nearly caused another caution when smoke billowed over the track.

“That’s just a funny story but stuff like that tends to happen at Pocono,” Petty said. “Every animal on Earth has gotten on that track at some time or another. Usually it happens in practice on the first day. By Sunday, the noise and the crowds have scared most of them off. They always tell you, though, to take it easy in that very first practice because you don’t know what’s going to jump up on the track.”

Unbeatable?: Ricky Rudd outran the field by more than a half-second, but Tony Stewart said Rudd is beatable Sunday. Besides, Rudd’s lap of 170.503 mph was one lap. He’ll have to go 200 to win the race.

“I’ve seen the pole winner miss it on race day,” Stewart said. “They won qualifying and they won practice, but we’ve still got a race to go yet.”

Still, Stewart said Rudd has a good thing going this weekend.

“It’s hard to beat a guy that can go good in a straight line, and they do a good job of making sure it turns, too,” Stewart said. “When you’ve got those two together, it’s a combination you can’t beat.”

Gordon Noses Ahead: Rudd was singing the praises of Gordon’s team then took a gentle shot at the Chevrolet nose.

“Those guys have got it together right now,” Rudd said. “They go down the straightaway and they go through the corners. They’ll be tough here. I’m not sure – well, nevermind. I’m not going to get into that.”

But Rudd couldn’t help himself. “That Chevrolet nose – the nose will get to me about 10 minutes before the rest of the car gets there,” Rudd said.

‘Fatback’ Improving: Rudd’s crew chief, Michael McSwain, is getting some on-the-job training this year as the team goes for its first win together.

“‘Fatback’ McSwain, he’s come a long way,” Rudd said. “He was a crew chief before he came along with us, but now when you start running up front week-in and week-out, you can’t say, ‘Well, key off of what this guys does,’ especially if you’re leading the race.

“I was with Richard Childress many, many years ago, and the big deal with Richard was, he’d say, ‘Do what the 11 (Junior Johnson’s car) does. When the 11 comes in, you pit.’ Well, that worked great but all of a sudden, we started outrunning the 11, and even Richard Childress was stumped. He didn’t know what to do.”

Childress has since learned a lot about pit strategy, and McSwain is learning, too.

“I think that’s what we’re going through is some experience,” Rudd said. “I can’t really say I think we’ve had good calls all year. That hasn’t kept us out of victory lane, like at Martinsville. We ran second, but I can’t fault the call we made there. We ended up staying on tires a long time as everyone else did. Our teammate (Dale Jarrett) beats us, but the only reason he beat us was that he had a foul-up that took place.

“I guess you learn from your mistakes and go on, but I’m not really upset. I think we’ve made some good calls and we’ve made some bad calls, but most of the time they’re pretty good.”

Sponsorship Hunt: Andy Petree is on a mission. He’s looking for sponsorship for both his teams, as contracts with Oakwood Homes (Joe Nemechek’s No. 33) and Square D (Bobby Hamilton’s No. 55) end after this season.

“I’m very concerned about it,” Petree said. “This is a bad year for me to have both of my contracts up going into 2002. With the economy the way it’s been – I’m not an economist – but it looks like it’s turning around some. We’re still fairly early in the season, and we’ve just got to get our programs on track mainly.”

Hamilton won at Talladega this season and stands 12th in the Winston Cup points. Nemechek was hurt in a testing crash at Dover and has missed the last three races. Wally Dallenbach replaced him at Pocono, and Scott Pruett will drive the No. 33 at Sears Point. With a week off after Sears Point, Nemechek could be back for the Pepsi 400 at Daytona.

Laying Low: Dallenbach was due to drive the No. 75 Galaxy Motorsports car this season, but the team had financial trouble and folded. Dallenbach went to the Daytona 500 looking for a ride but called that “a waste of time.”

“I went to the race track for 15 or 20 minutes and said, ‘Forget this. This is stupid,’” Dallenbach said.

Like Petree, Dallenbach struggled financially. He said he sold “all my toys so I don’t have to sell my house.”

“I knew there wasn’t going to be a whole lot happening in the garage area for five or six months,” said Dallenbach, who recently was added to the NBC broadcast team as an analyst. “So basically I’ve just been laying low and waiting to see what opportunities come up. It just seems like in the last couple of weeks a lot of them have come up compared to the last five months. With the opportunity I’ve got now with NBC, that’s going to take me through the end of the year. And I’m real excited about that. We’ll just have to see what develops from there.”

Dallenbach said his contract is a long-term deal, but he’s working on a trial basis. If both sides agree, Dallenbach will re-sign in October. But he’d like to get back in a race car and said he’s close to signing a deal with Panther Racing to run the Indianapolis 500 next year.

“I’m leaving all my options open like I always do,” Dallenbach said. “When the time comes, if NBC is happy with me and they’re ready to sign and I don’t have any offers from a competitive Winston Cup team, then that’s what I’ll do. So I’m just leaving it wide open."”

Busch in Truck Series, Again: Rookie Winston Cup driver Kurt Busch heads back to the Craftsman Truck Series in two weeks. With the Cup series taking a weekend off, Busch will drive Roush Racing’s No. 99 truck in the GNC Live Well 200 at The Milwaukee Mile.

As a rookie in the NCTS last year in the No. 99 Ford, Busch won at Milwaukee.

“I am looking forward to the chance to run my old No. 99 truck again and defend my race title,” Busch said. “The Roush truck developmental program is a great one, and it seems like this is a good opportunity to check out the program, help our rookie drivers understand the trucks better and help the program continue to develop.”

With Greg Biffle driving next week at Memphis, Roush is hoping its veterans can work with younger drivers Chuck Hossfeld, Nathan Haseleu and Jon Wood.

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