Gateway Qualifying Report

Biffle earns third Bud Pole of season By Shawn A. Akers MADISON, Ill. (Sept. 18, 1998) Color it an all-Roush Racing front row for Saturday's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Ram Tough 200 presented by Pepsi at Gateway International Raceway.

Biffle earns third Bud Pole of season By Shawn A. Akers

MADISON, Ill. (Sept. 18, 1998) Color it an all-Roush Racing front row for Saturday's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Ram Tough 200 presented by Pepsi at Gateway International Raceway. Only it's the young rookie, not the wily veteran, that will take the point when the green flag flies Saturday at the 1.25-mile oval.

Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 50 Grainger Ford, earned his third Bud Pole Award of the season and second straight on Friday during first-round qualifying, turning a fast lap of 131.218 mph. Biffle's teammate, 53-year-old Joe Ruttman, put his No. 99 Exide Batteries Ford on the outside of the front row with a fast lap of 131.138 mph.

Saturday's event will be the first time the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series has raced at Gateway, which opened last year.

Biffle is the leading candidate for Cintas Rookie of the Year honors. He also won the Bud Pole for the Craftsman 200 by NAPA Auto Parts at Portland Speedway in April and for last Sunday's Memphis 200 at Memphis Motorsports Park.

Yet, Biffle was far from satisfied with his qualifying effort Friday.

"I think I left a little on the table coming off of (Turn) 2," Biffle said. "I got the throttle down too soon I think, and pushed and had to get out of it. This track is really fun. It is pretty long and tight down in that corner, but it's a beautiful facility. I really like it so far. The Grainger team has worked hard to give us a good truck this week, and last week, too. We're here to redeem ourselves."

Biffle wound up finishing 22nd last weekend at Memphis when his truck encountered mechanical problems.

Currently 13 points ahead of Andy Houston in the rookie race, Biffle was the 20th of 31 drivers to qualify on Friday. Ruttman went out 30th, and barely missed knocking his teammate off the top spot.

"Wait until I fix him (Biffle) up on the start," Ruttman said jokingly of his teammate. "I'm going to let him jump the start, put him to the back, then we'll just race. No, we're happy. I think I could have gone faster, but we're going to hang on to what we've got here and we'll just race up a storm, I hope.

"That's (two teammates on the front row) what we need. The guys in the engine room, and the whole team have been working hard. The team deserves a pole. I'm the only guy who can bounce from first to last, and then back to second again, so they don't know what to expect when I qualify. But when you've got a good Ford truck with Exide sponsoring you, you've got it made."

Jack Sprague, the current NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series point leader, was the first truck to qualify on Friday, and held the pole position with a lap of 131.062 mph, until Biffle went out.

Rick Carelli qualified fourth (130.095) and Jay Sauter fifth (130.563), while Ron Hornaday (130.457), Lonnie Rush (130.337), Rick Crawford (130.231), Mike Bliss (130.208) and Ron Barfield (130.114) rounded out the top 10.

The top 20 trucks were locked into the field on Friday. Second-round qualifying will take be held Saturday beginning at 11:30 p.m. EDT. Only one truck entered did not attempt to qualify on Friday, the No. 28 Ford of Danny Bagwell. He'll attempt to make the field on Saturday.

Among those who failed to qualify in the first round on Friday were: Dennis Setzer (128.962), Stacy Compton (128.896) and Randy Tolsma (128.180).

The green flag for the Ram Tough 200 presented by Pepsi is scheduled to fly shortly after 43:30 p.m. DDT on Saturday. Hornaday, who sits 15 points behind Sprague in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series point standings, will be looking for his second straight victory and his seventh of the season.

Source: NASCAR Online

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Greg Biffle , Jay Sauter , Andy Houston , Stacy Compton , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Jack Sprague , Dennis Setzer , Joe Ruttman , Randy Tolsma , Rick Carelli , Mike Bliss , Ron Barfield