Guerrero still seeks comfort

Posted: Wednesday, September 04, 2002

HAMPTON, Ga. -- Roberto Guerrero won the pole position for the 1992 Indianapolis 500 with four laps around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at an average speed of 232.482 mph.

One lap, however, around the Atlanta Motor Speedway Tuesday at 184.738 mph in a stock car was more harrowing.

The veteran of 18 open-wheeled racing seasons is trying to make a racing comeback in cars with roofs and bumpers. A test this week at Atlanta was supposed to make him more familiar and more comfortable with the nuances of a stock car, but all it's accomplished is to stir hidden fears.

''I don't know what I'm feeling for in these cars,'' he said. ''It never feels very good to me, but I'm expecting a lot of different things. I'm trying to fix problems that aren't fixable in these cars.''

Guerrero said his biggest problem is finding a comfort zone. What he's found is the best-handling stock car feels worse than a bad-handling Indy car.

''I think when these cars are really good, they're not very good compared to what I'm used to,'' he said. ''The biggest difference will be in the races.

The racing will be very interesting.''

David Green, a former Busch Series champion, is helping HRT. The only team that's owned and sponsored by Hispanics wanted Guerrero to drive in the Busch Series race at the Lowe's Motor Speedway near Charlotte, N.C., last May, but it decided he still wasn't ready.

Now the plan is to give him a month to get ready for the race at Atlanta.

''My biggest deal is just helping them get the car running,'' Green said.

''Roberto's a real good racer; he's just not used to the equipment. The hardest thing for him has been understanding that these cars aren't as forgiving. You can't drive them as hard into the corners.

''I've tried to help bridge the gap. The concept is still the same: drive fast, turn left. There's still one steering wheel and four tires.''

While 184.738 mph seems fast, even at the 1.54-mile Atlanta Motor Speedway, it's far from being competitive. In fact, it's 7 mph slower that Ryan Newman's pole-winning speed of a year ago and, based on last year's qualifying, it's not fast enough to make the starting lineup.

But there's plenty of time for Guerrero to make up the difference both in speed and comfort level.

WALLACE JOINS BDR: Kenny Wallace's plan to join Bill Davis Racing next year was moved up a few months.

According to a modified entry list, Wallace will replace Hut Stricklin in the No. 23 Dodge at this Sunday's Mountain Dew Southern 500 at the Darlington Raceway.

Stricklin's tenure with Davis was in jeopardy since sponsor, Hill Bros Coffee, informed the team two months ago it would not be back in 2003. Wallace already has a sponsor for next year, Stacker 2, and that made him a valuable replacement.

Stricklin has no top-10 finishes this year and he's failed to make the starting lineup for one race.

Wallace's new job presents a problem for two races. He's already promised to drive a car for Andy Petree Racing at the EA Sports Thunder 500 at the Talladega Superspeedway in October. He also has a Busch Series commitment on the same weekend as the 500-lap race at Martinsville, Va.

WRATH OF NASCAR: Seven drivers and crewmen from the NASCAR Goody's Dash Series were hit with an assortment of penalties after a raucous race last Thursday at the Bristol Motor Speedway.

The most-severe sanctions were handed out to drivers Zach Brewer and Angie Wilson, crew chief Harold Wilson and crewmen Michael Davis and Derek McBride. All were fined and suspended from the next race.

Robert Huffman was fined $500 and docked 100 points for rough driving, while Johnny Chapman was fined $250 for his on-track aggression against another driver.

The people suspended from the next race were all involved in fights.

PIT STOPS: Ratings for last Saturday night's Sharpie 500 at the Bristol Motor Speedway topped the best rating of any of the four networks. TNT drew a 4.8 rating, easily out-distancing its racing partner, NBC, which drew a 3.3 with its shows, Meet My Folks, Crime and Punishment and Dog Eat Dog. The highest rating of the major networks was a 4.7 by Fox ... Chevron/Havoline has completed a deal to sponsor a third car at Chip Ganassi Racing next year. No word on the driver.

Subscribe to Peninsula Clarion

Trending this week:


© 2018. All Rights Reserved. | Contact Us