Thursday, February 25, 2016

03/15/92: Bob Schacht scores second-straight last-place finish after buying Atlanta ride

On Sunday, March 15, 1992, Bob Schacht picked up the 3rd last-place finish of his NASCAR Winston Cup career in the Motorcraft Quality Parts 500 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway when his #13 Shoney’s Chevrolet dropped a valve after he completed 23 of the race’s 328 laps.  The finish was Schacht’s second of the season and came in his 11th series start.

Schacht, a 42-year-old driver from Lombard, Illinois, was entering his sixth season in Cup Series competition.  His career began on August 16, 1981 when he finished 32nd in his family-owned #97 Test Tube Oldsmobile in the Champion Spark Plug 400 at Michigan, a race won by Richard Petty.  Following a lone Busch Series (now XFINITY Series) start at Milwaukee in 1984, Schacht split his time between the ARCA Racing Series and Cup, racing at a time where drivers who missed the field for Cup races typically filled out ARCA fields.  He scored the first four of his ten career ARCA wins during his first three seasons from 1985 through 1987, then was a journeyman between several single-car Cup teams during east coast races.

1992 marked Schacht’s first start in the Daytona 500 in his first-ever attempt.  Driving for Earl and Chek Sadler (Sadler Brothers Racing) in the #95 Shoney’s Oldsmobile, Schacht made the race on speed, earning the 9th starting spot in Race 2 of the Twin 125s before finishing 28th.  The engine woes that ended his run in the 125s carried over to the 500, however, and he ended up finishing last after just 7 laps.

Atlanta would be Schacht and the Sadler Brothers’ next attempt, but in qualifying the #95 ended up the fastest of four cars to miss the race.  The Sadlers then purchased a starting spot from fellow single-car team owner Clint Folsom, whose #13 Chevrolet was set to start 33rd with Alabama short-tracker Dave Mader III.  This allowed Schact to start Sunday’s race in Folsom’s #13, which now carried the Sadler’s sponsorship from Shoney’s.  Despite the driver change, it would be Folsom’s first Cup start as a team owner after running in the Busch Series and ARCA Racing Series in 1991.

The driver change forced Schacht to start at the rear of the field for the start of the race, placing him behind last-place starter Jimmy Means.  Means, the longtime owner-driver and current team owner of Joey Gase’s XFINITY Series ride, earned the final provisional in a white #52 Axe Equipment Pontiac with the 1988-1990 sheet metal he would run for much of the season.  As the green flag flew, Schacht and Means lagged behind the rest of the field, followed seconds later by another car - the #4 Kodak Film Chevrolet of Ernie Irvan.  Irvan broke a collarbone in a hard crash early in the Busch Series race the day before and was released from the hospital just two hours before the command to start engines.  With one lap in the books, Irvan pulled down pit road and gave up his seat to then-defending Busch champion Bobby Labonte, who at the time had made just three Cup starts.  Labonte lost at least two laps during the driver change and promptly took last from Schacht and Means.

The race was still under green when Schacht made an unscheduled stop after 23 laps with a dropped valve.  The caution flew 17 laps later for defending race winner Ken Schrader, whose #25 Kodiak Chevrolet fielded by Hendrick Motorsports lost a right-rear tire and made contact with the outside wall in Turn 3.  The race-ending damage to Schrader’s car heightened concerns about Goodyear’s new radial tires, which were being run at the Atlanta track for the first time.   Two of the race’s seven cautions were competition cautions to allow teams to check tire wear.

The remaining three spots in the Bottom Five all belonged to owner-drivers.  40th went to Texas driver Eddie Bierschwale, who was making the 114th of his 117 career Cup starts in his #23 SplitFire / Auto Finders Oldsmobile before he also dropped a valve.  Darrell Waltrip came home 39th when his #17 Western Auto Chevrolet lost ground to the leaders, then made an unscheduled stop on Lap 79 with a loss of oil pressure.  Rounding out the group was Means, who went down a circuit on Lap 17 and then lost the engine after 87 laps.

Schacht hasn’t raced in Cup since his sixth and final Cup last-place finish at Pocono in 1994, but he’s remained an active car owner an infrequent competitor in stock car racing.  It was Schacht who gave Stuart Kirby his Cup debut at Charlotte in 2001, fielded plate-track cars for fellow ARCA veteran Bobby Gerhart was recently as 2010, and just last year in the ARCA road course race at New Jersey Motorsports Park, Schacht finished 11th in his 150th series start at the age of 65.

*This was the first last-place finish for the #13 in a Winston Cup race since July 21, 1991, when Gary Balough’s #13 Linro Motorsports Buick tangled with Irv Hoerr’s #44 High Point Bedding Oldsmobile after he completed 2 laps of the Miller Genuine Draft 500 at Pocono.  Balough’s car was fielded by Linro Motorsports, owned by Jim Rosenlum, who currently fields the #28 FDNY Racing entry in the Truck Series.

42) #13-Bob Schacht / 23 laps / valve
41) #25-Ken Schrader / 38 laps / crash
40) #23-Eddie Bierschwale / 71 laps / valve
39) #17-Darrell Waltrip / 79 laps / oil pressure
38) #52-Jimmy Means / 87 laps / engine


Matthew L. Lewis said...

Although Schact had been making sporadic starts in the Cup series for many years, 1992 was the year he entered the Rookie of the Year competition. In fact, at this point in the season, the (at the time, prestigious) award looked certain to be given to either Bob Schact or Andy Belmont or Andy Hillenburg...all three ARCA competitors who were only scheduled to enter a handful of Cup races in 1992 with low budget or self owned car. Jimmy Hensley ultimately was ROTY as Cale Yarborough fired Chad Little around this point of the season thus giving Hensley a full time, well sponsored ride.

Brock Beard said...

That would explain the Sadler Brothers' determination to put their driver into the Atlanta field. I've only looked at the ROTY results from the end of the season after Hensley took Little's ride in the 66. I didn't realize those three ARCA guys were all attempting the full season. Do you know where I can read up more about that?