Portland Friday Notes

Craftsman 200 Friday Notebook By Shawn A. Akers PORTLAND, Ore. (April 24, 1998) Some notes and quotes Friday from Portland Speedway and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series' Craftsman 200 Presented by NAPA Auto Parts: Jack Sprague and the No.

Craftsman 200 Friday Notebook By Shawn A. Akers

PORTLAND, Ore. (April 24, 1998) Some notes and quotes Friday from Portland Speedway and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series' Craftsman 200 Presented by NAPA Auto Parts:

Jack Sprague and the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet team may have themselves a potential sponsor for the remainder of the 1998 campaign. Sprague said Friday that Big Daddy's Barbecue Sauce has signed a one-race deal to sponsor the No. 24 Chevrolet at Portland, and that it may continue throughout the rest of the season.

"It all came together pretty quickly (Thursday night), and they're here with us for this race," Sprague said. "They tell me that they're probably going to be with us for the rest of the year, and I'm looking forward to it. I don't really know much about the deal myself, and I'll have some more information for you when I find out."

The defending NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion has been running without a major sponsor early on this season, and has run quite well. Sprague trails Ron Hornaday by only two points coming into the weekend at Portland.

Hornaday, who has 19 career series victories, has been a terror on the short tracks since the series began in 1995. Twelve of Hornaday's wins have come on short tracks, including one at Portland in 1996.

A victory at Portland would put Hornaday ahead of Mike Skinner on the all-time series list for short track wins. The truck the No. 16 NAPA Chevrolet team has brought to Portland has 11 victories to its credit.

Hornaday is scheduled to drive a NAPA-sponsored NASCAR Winston West Series car next weekend at California Speedway in Fontana, Calif. The No. 45 Chevrolet is owned by Bill Strauser.

Jay Sauter comes into Saturday's event at Portland with good credentials in 1998. He has three top-10 finishes in the first three races, and is third in the series standings.

Last year at Portland, he got caught up in a late wreck, but still managed to salvage a 10th-place finish at the half-mile oval.

"I like to call Portland Speedway the action track," Sauter said. "It's just fun getting back to short-track racing. It seems like that's where most of the competitors' roots are, so there is some good, tight racing.

"We had a great truck out here last year. We got involved in a wreck late, but we still managed a top-10, so Portland owes me one."

Several drivers, like Mike Bliss and Greg Biffle, are returning to their roots at Portland, as is Jason Roche. The 29-year-old native of Vancouver, Wash., which is just across the bridge from Portland, raced for several years in the Late Model Stock division at the half-mile venue before moving to Mooresville, N.C., to set up a family operation.

The Craftsman 200 Presented by NAPA Auto Parts was Roche's first ever attempt to qualify for a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event. The No. 21 Emerald Coast Chevrolet was built by Roche himself, and his crew chief is his brother, Damon.

Two of three series winners at Portland, Skinner (1995) and Rich Bickle (1997), started from the Bud Pole. Hornaday started from the 11th position in 1996. "It's just a driver's race track," Hornaday said. "If you can do good there, you can do good anywhere. It's good old short track racing. You can run side-by-side. You'll have altercations, but if you overcome them, you can go on and finish very well."

Torrential but sporadic rains hampered practice at the half-mile facility during the morning and early afternoon. The first practice, scheduled for an hour, was cut short by wet weather 12 minutes from the end, with Rick Carelli turning the fastest lap at 87.856 mph, followed by Sprague (87.706) and Tony Raines (87.502).

The second practice session was halted 21 minutes in, with Sprague recording the fastest lap at 87.672 mph, followed by rookie Rick McCray (87.366) and Raines (87.199).

Mike Wallace, in the No. 52 PureOne Chevrolet, struggled to find the right combination in both early practice sessions. Wallace was second to last among 31 trucks in the first session (85.296 mph), and was last, 31st, in the second session at 84.136 mph.

Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Rich Bickle , Mike Skinner , Greg Biffle , Jay Sauter , Mike Wallace , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Tony Raines , Jack Sprague , Rick Carelli , Mike Bliss
Teams Hendrick Motorsports