Michigan Int'l Speedway - Brooklyn, Mich. NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Michigan 200 ROBERT PRESSLEY (No. 18 Square D/Bobby Hamilton Racing Dodge Ram) NOTE: Robert Pressley took his second win this season at the Michigan 200. He led three...
Michigan Int'l Speedway - Brooklyn, Mich.
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
ROBERT PRESSLEY (No. 18 Square D/Bobby Hamilton Racing Dodge Ram)
NOTE: Robert Pressley took his second win this season at the Michigan 200. He led three times for 74 laps.
"I think all the other teams took on two tires at the end, and I think the No. 60 truck and us took just four. We had such a good truck that we really hated to mix anything up by putting two tires on instead of four. Danny Rollins decided to make the call to put on four tires. We knew it was going to put us deep in the field, but the thing about this racetrack here is that the draft is so important. We knew whenever a couple of trucks got side-by-side that we'd be able to hang with them long enough until our tires came in and make a move.
"Well, I had seen Jason (Leffler) coming up on me. Danny was calling off times to me for the last 20 laps, letting me know where we stood. I knew when we needed to go, we could step it up just a little bit. We had a slight vibration in turns one and two. I wasn't sure if it was just the wind hitting the side of the truck or what. But we had just been so close to winning a couple more of truck races this year, I just couldn't stand to fall out of it that late in the run. So, I just backpedaled a little bit and let him get up there where he could help us out. Having him catch up with us would've been one thing, but having him pass us would've been another.
"I was pretty much just watching Jason at the end there, and wherever he went I was going to go too. The thing that really surprised me more than anything else was I had run the Busch cars here for four or five years and had run about six years here in Winston Cup, but the draft was just so important today. I never thought the draft had come in the way it did at this particular racetrack. As I got out front, I realized that I was hurting myself by pulling out and running by myself, because I was beating all the air off myself. So, whenever they told me Jason and I were running about the same time, I started hitting the lapped traffic where I knew he couldn't get me on the straightaway. I was trying to hold him at bay right there. But the guy is hungry, wanting to win the race and he has been so close this year, but we had a little bit more left in that Bobby Hamilton Dodge.
"I love this race track. I thought we had won a race here a couple of years ago with eight or 10 laps to go, when it started raining. Somehow Mother Nature didn't do what it was supposed to do though. It cleared up for 15 minutes and let Tony Stewart win the race. Having a teammate like Bill Lester has been a big, big plus for us. He's basically the reason why we won this race today. About a month ago we went to Chicago, and did a big test with Dodge. Bill was the quickest one there, so at that particular time we just cut our trucks up and changed to the type that Bill had, and in the last couple of weeks it showed up. Whenever you've got a rookie that's helped out somebody that's raced as long as I have, it's big. Being part of a three truck team the way we've got, the assets are paying off now.
"I said after the Chicago test that we can still win this championship at 150 points out. All you have to do is win races and then you win championships. That's what we've had trouble doing this year, is winning races. With this new truck we've got, I believe we can win a few more. If we can just keep on chewing at these guys, we may just pull this thing off.
JASON LEFFLER (No. 2 Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge Ram)
"We took two tires on that last pit stop, but the No. 18 Dodge was dominant all day. Robert (Pressley) had a really good Dodge. We started the race with a truck that I didn't feel had a chance to win. Tim Kohuth, my crew chief, did his usual magic and turned it into something that we could've won with. This whole group always works really hard. They never give up and that's why we're up front every week.
"It's easy to say, 'Yeah, maybe one more lap and we could've taken the lead.' But it's a 100-lap race and Robert did what he had to do to stay out front for that long. He might have been pacing himself a little bit. Robert also got hung up a little bit of traffic that I was able to get clear through, so that allowed me to gain on him. Under the circumstances that this was a 101-lap race, we would've gotten alongside of him.
"I was a little bit worried when I saw Ted (Musgrave) pull off the track. I don't know what the problem was. Arrington Engines and Joey Arrington who builds our engines also builds the engines for the Bobby Hamilton trucks and quite a few other ones, so it couldn't have been a problem for all of them. I don't know what happened, but it could have been something real simple like a loose oil line. I wasn't too worried about our Dodge though. We haven't had a problem all year long. This is a motor that I've raced before, and I really wasn't worried.
"Robert got away from us early when we were racing through traffic. He got out front and just took off. But, when you get within two car lengths of the leader, you can get in his draft and you can catch him just like that. That's what I was hoping for."
BILL LESTER (No. 8 Dodge Motorsports Dodge Ram)
NOTE: For the first time in 2002 Lester finished as the top-finishing rookie. Lester has been the top-qualifying rookie in seven races this year. "Basically, when Robert (teammate, Pressley) won, that was like a team victory. The three truck teams of Bobby Hamilton Racing, we're really one team under one roof. We've got three separate numbers, but we're all family and we all get along really well. A victory for any of us is a victory for all of us.
"It's an open book between Robert, Brian (teammate, Rose) and myself. Both of those guys have more experience that I have, and Robert, needless to say is a seasoned veteran. If I can pick up what Robert Pressley and Bobby Hamilton have forgotten, I'm going to be a better racecar driver. So, I take advantage of every opportunity to basically pull on Robert's shirttail and say, 'Hey, what's going to happen here?' We were signing autographs at a Dodge function this Thursday at the DaimlerChrysler Headquarters and I asked him, 'So, what's this Michigan track like?' He told me, 'You haven't felt loose until you've been here.'
"I was thinking this is a two-mile oval, you can get four or five trucks wide, there's plenty of room so there shouldn't be any problem. Robert said, 'Buddy, you just wait until you get here. You're not going to know what you're truck is going to do.' He was right, I just couldn't believe it. When you go into a corner typically you're pretty free going in, and then in the middle it's like the truck's not underneath you. It's kind of like you're dancing around, like the sidewall of the tire is not stiff enough. But, it's basically the 'Hospital Hop,' I've heard it called. It's a feeling you've just got to get used to. I guess after 100 laps here, I can't say I'm any better at it, but at least I'm a lot more comfortable than I was right off the bat here.
"So, I pretty much asked Robert what it was going to be like at Michigan today, and pretty much everything he said came true. I've got to commend him for all the advice he's given me. He's helping me become a better racecar driver.
"I really had to be on top of the way my Dodge felt today, because it can lull you to sleep here. The last thing you need to have happen is to have this track reach up and bite you, because it can happen really fast out there. It's almost as if you can get a false sense of security out there lap after lap. I found myself a couple times having to turn to the right. You've got to be on guard here the whole time.
"I think the lack of practice kept everyone driving pretty safely out there today. I was personally very frustrated with not having the opportunity to qualify. The guys at Bobby Hamilton Racing gave me a really good truck. We were very confident that we would've rolled off better than 18th, which is where we are in the points and where we had to start since we didn't have the chance to qualify. We knew that it was going to be a long race, and I heard that it had been pretty caution-free in the past. We just hoped that we'd have a good Dodge to start with, and then we could peck our way up through the order. But we had a couple hiccups here today. There were two things I wanted to do here today, and if I had accomplished either one of them I would have called this race a success. The first thing was for us to finish in the top-10, and we missed that one. But the second thing was for us to finish as the top-finishing rookie. I'm just extremely happy with the guys on the team, the truck they gave me, and my own personal accomplishments. We're headed in the right direction."
TED MUSGRAVE (No. 1 Mopar Performance Parts Dodge Ram)
"Well, this is very uncharacteristic for us. We've never blown a motor up until today, but that's what got us. We were tight, bumping around and we must have spun a bearing or something. It's especially a shame because the Mopar Dodge was coming back to us after we had been running for awhile. With one more adjustment we could have been running right back up there with Robert Pressley."
BRENDAN GAUGHAN (No. 62 NAPA/Orleans Dodge Ram)
"This is the truck that won at Texas, so we knew it was a good truck. But something just wasn't right today. We did some pretty nasty things to it today, we even cut the chains off the rear end just trying to find anything that would help fix it. Nothing we did would really fix us up today. We've got to take this thing back to the shop, see what happened to it, and at least bring it back to Fontana, or Texas maybe. We'll get another one out for Indianapolis Raceway Park next week."