Originally created 04/10/03

Racing is rough in Virginia



MARTINSVILLE, Va. - Martinsville Speedway is the smallest and slowest raceway on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. But it packs a big punch when it comes to triggering anger.

"Racing at Martinsville is like taking 43 race fans, handing them one hot dog and saying, 'You guys divide it up evenly and be nice about it.' We're all trying to get that one hot dog," said Kyle Petty. "I have my own idea of how I'm going to get it, and I'm fine - unless somebody gets in my way. Even if I'm nice and polite about it, maybe tap him just a touch, he's going to get mad, and he's going to try to touch me back - just a lot harder."

Even Tony Stewart, NASCAR's poster child for anger management, talked of tolerance for this Sunday's Virginia 500.

"You learn how to protect the car," he said. "You learn how to not beat it up. You learn it's a lot more fun racing when you use a lot more patience. Patience seems to be the biggest variable that can hold you up at a place like Martinsville. Needless to say, after going there a couple of times, I've learned how to be patient - out of necessity, basically."

PARROTTS GONE AT YATES: Brad Parrott was fired Wednesday as Dale Jarrett's crew chief at Robert Yates Racing and his older brother, Todd, the team's competition director, is on indefinite leave, the team announced.

Although Jarrett won the race at Rockingham, N.C., earlier this year, he has struggled lately.

"We said at the beginning of 2003 we would do whatever it took to get the No. 88 team and Dale Jarrett back to championship-contending form," said general manager Doug Yates. "This wasn't an easy decision, but it was a necessary one, and we, hopefully, will be able to get the No. 88 team back to Victory Lane. For the last several races, this team hasn't performed to the level that we know it is capable of performing."

Current crewmen Garth Finley and Richard Buck will serve as co-crew chiefs this Sunday at Martinsville.

PIT STOPS: Crew chief Pat Tryson was fined $10,000 after a 35-pound chunk of lead fell out of Ricky Rudd's car during a practice session last week at Talladega, Ala. ... Tony Furr is the new crew chief for rookie Jack Sprague. He replaces Dennis Connor, who was fired Tuesday by Haas CNC Racing. ... Larry Foyt will skip this Sunday's race at Martinsville. His grandfather, team owner A.J. Foyt, said the team wasn't prepared for the race, and the driver didn't have enough experience.