Sprague captures Bud Pole at Homestead Dave Rodman - NASCAR Online

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (April 3, 1998) Defending NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Jack Sprague of Spring Lake, Mich., absolutely spanked a 53-truck qualifying field and won the Bud Pole Award Friday for Saturday's third annual $469,505 Florida Dodge Dealers 400 at Miami-Dade Homestead Motor Sports Complex.

Sprague, the 43rd truck to take a qualifying run, established the track record for the reconfigured 1.5-mile oval with his single lap in 36.173 seconds, an average speed of 149.283 mph. He will lead the 38-truck field to the green flag Saturday at 1:30 p.m. EST.

Mike Bliss continued a weekend of improvement by qualifying on the outside of the front row with a lap of 36.401 seconds, at 148.348 mph, in the Team ASE Ford. Rounding out the top-five were surprising Rich Bickle , who placed new owner Tim Beverley's Sears DieHard Chevrolet in third at 148.311 mph; Ron Barfield in the Ortho Lawn & Garden Chevrolet in fourth at 147.868 mph; and sophomore driver Boris Said, who ran 147.832 mph in the Federated Auto Parts Ford.

Qualifying sixth through 10th were Terry Cook, Joe Ruttman, Bryan Reffner, Randy Tolsma and Jay Sauter.

"The truck's been awful good since we rolled it off the hauler yesterday," said Sprague, who won his ninth career Bud Pole and made himself the only driver to win a pole in each of the series' four years. "The No. 24 was fast yesterday and it was fast today and it was faster in qualifying. So, the truck seems to be awful good and I just hope it can stay awful good. Maybe it'll be good for one more day and we can win one of these."

Bliss felt handicapped by not testing prior to the race on the track that now has constant radius turns rather than the four square corners used the past two years.

"We hadn't been there all day, and I just hung it out there," Bliss said. "The first lap I was just a little off in one and two, a little loose. Today the first lap has been the lap to run. The second laps have been nothing. We ran down into three on the second lap and got real loose, and I just gave up. I just decided it wasn't worth trying."

In fact, only 13 of the 51 drivers who completed qualifying attempts picked up on their second laps, and most of those appeared tentative on their initial laps. Bliss, Sprague and Bickle all skipped their second laps, and Bliss felt that once he was qualified, that was the key.

"All in all, I think we've got a good race truck," he said. "We're going to see what the new nose does on the Ford, and see if it works in traffic, and try to win this. I wanted the pole, but Jack (Sprague) got what, three tenths on us? That's all right. We've got to race now, and that's the name of the game."

Following the assignment of driver provisionals to Tammy Jo Kirk and Doug George, owner provisionals to drivers Wayne Anderson and Barry Bodine and the final position, coming out of qualifying, to Frank Kimmel, 15 teams packed up and went home.

In order of qualifying they were Carl Long; Dennis Setzer; Michael Dokken ; Mike Garvey; Jamie Skinner; Ken Bouchard; B.A. Wilson; Rick McCray; Tommy Archer; Scott Lagasse; Dominic Dobson; Tim Bolton; Joe Madore; Rob Morgan, who crashed on his qualifying lap; and Jason Roche', who did not make a qualifying attempt.

Source: NASCAR Online