|Owner(s) Name||Gary Bechtel|
|Racing Series||Winston Cup & Busch Series|
|Number of Championships||0|
|Number of Wins||8 (Busch Series)|
|Notable Driver(s)||Jeff Green, Steve Grissom, Elliott Sadler|
|Notable Sponsor(s)||Cartoon Network, WCW|
|Shop Location||Charlotte, North Carolina|
Diamond Ridge Motorsports is a former NASCAR team that competed in the Winston Cup and Busch Series from 1990 to 1999. It was owned and operated by Gary Bechtel. Despite modest success in the Busch Series, the team was never able to maintain a competitive level in the Winston Cup Series.
Winston Cup Edit
Diamond Ridge Motorsports made its NASCAR debut at the 1990 Coca-Cola 600 as the #68 Country Time Pontiac Grand Prix. Bobby Hamilton qualified eighth for the race, but crashed early in the race and finished 39th. Phil Parsons also drove the #29 for Diamond Ridge at the Miller Genuine Draft 400, the DieHard 500, and the Heinz Southern 500, his best finish being 22nd.
After failing to run a race the following year, Diamond Ridge returned in 1992, with John Krebs driving Chevrolets at Sears Point and Phoenix, finishing 31st and 23rd, respectively. Krebs returned to run Sonoma and Pocono the next year as well, but DNF-d in both races. Andy Hillenburg drove one race for the team at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but had a DNF as well. Diamond Ridge ran one more race that year, at Phoenix, with Steve Grissom driving. He finished 29th.
In 1994, Diamond Ridge mounted its first full-time attempt at a Cup championship, hiring Grissom to drive for the team. Despite failing to qualify for the golden races of the Cup schedule(the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400), Grissom posted three top-tens and finished 28th in points, runner-up to Jeff Burton for Rookie of the Year. Krebs returned for a final race with Diamond Ridge, finishing 42nd in the #9 Channelock car. He crashed on lap 2 and flipped over in the dirt embankment. He did not suffer any injuries.
Grissom returned in 1995 and got off to a strong start, posting three top-tens in the first seven races of the season, but only finished one spot higher in the points standings. After that season, Meinke left, and Cartoon Network joined the team as Team Wacky Racing. Despite a fifth-place finish at Rockingham Speedway, Grissom was released from the ride after the spring Michigan race. Greg Sacks took over for the next six races, his best finish being a 29th at Pocono. Butch Leitzinger, Chad Little, Robert Pressley, and Jeff Green shared the driving duties in turns for the rest of the year.
In 1997, Diamond Ridge chose Pressley as its driver for the season. Pressley struggled and after the Winston 500, he was released from his ride. Jeff Green returned to take his place. After missing the first ten races of the year, Green had two top-tens and finished 39th in the points. Unfortunately, at the end of the year, Cartoon Network announced it would not return as sponsor. The team attempted a few races with Green as Team Monte Carlo sponsoring, but they only qualified for three races, and Green left the orginization. The team ran the #92 later in the season for Elliott Sadler in two races. After the year came to a close Diamond Ridge announced it was suspending the operations for its Cup team, and would return to the Busch Series for a planned return to Cup in 2001.
Busch Series Edit
Diamond Ridge's Busch program began running with Grissom in 1995, when they purchased Grissom's Busch operation. Channelock and Meinke were sponsors and Grissom won twice during his abbreviated season. He ran eight races in 1996 with WCW sponsoring and had another visit to victory lane, but he was released during the season. Bill Ingle, the team's crew chief, took over driving duties at South Boston Speedway and Loudon, finishing 22nd and 26th respectively. Greg Sacks signed a one race deal to drive at Talladega Superspeedway, and ended up winning the race. Soon afterwards, Bechtel discovered a young driver named Elliott Sadler and signed him to run the rest of the year. Sadler responded with three top-ten finishes.
Geared up for a full run in 1997, Diamond Ridge & Sadler went from unsponsored to receiving backing from Phillips 66. The extra funding made a difference as Sadler captured his first career victory at Nazareth Speedway. He went on to post additional victories at Myrtle Beach and Gateway. He finished fifth in points that year. Diamond Ridge also expanded to at two car operation in 1997, purchasing the #1 DeWalt Tools team and fielding a car for Sadler's older brother, Hermie. Hermie had two poles and finished tenth in points in 1997. In 1998, Elliott's team switched to #66 in order to accommodate their sponsor while Hermie moved into the #29. Hermie had a season virtually identical to 1997, posting two top-fives and having another tenth-place finish in the championship. Elliott scored three victories and finished eighth in points. Unfortunately, Elliott, who Diamond Ridge hoped would be their future in Cup, signed with Wood Brothers Racing. Still, hope was not lost. In 1999, Bechtel merged his Busch program with Joe Gibbs Racing, to field the #4 Lance Snacks Chevy for Jeff Purvis. While Purvis did not win that year, he had twelve top-ten finishes. The team fielded the #29 briefly as a second car for Curtis Markham, but sponsorship problems kept that from turning into a full-time ride. During the season, Bechtel eventually lost interest in the team, and sold the whole of the operation to Gibbs. Diamond Ridge Motorsports never returned to Cup as planned.