Compton impresses with '98 season By Shawn A. Akers
SAN FRANCISCO (Dec. 8, 1998) It's no secret that Stacy Compton has aspirations of making it to the NASCAR Winston Cup Series some day.
He did nothing to hurt his chances with his performance in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in 1998. All the Virginia native did was post the first two wins of his NCTS career, to go along with a pair of Bud Poles and nine top-five and 14 top-10 finishes in 27 starts to finish seventh in the overall series point standings.
For the first time ever, he'll take his place on stage at the annual NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series post-season awards banquet later this week.
"We certainly can't complain about the year we had, and I really do like this series because it has definitely done a lot for my career," said Compton, who pilots the No. 86 Royal Crown Cola Ford F-150. "It's a great series, and I thoroughly enjoy running in it.
"For a second-year team, its amazing that we won a couple of races, and really, we should have won a couple of more to say the least. Sometimes it's so aggravating trying to get to the next level, but yeah, I feel like I could have a home here because it is just a great series. I'm keeping my options open for down the road, but it certainly wouldn't hurt me at all to get more experience in this truck series."
Compton has signed on for at least one more year with Royal Crown Cola and Impact Motorsports in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in 1999.
The season-opener at Walt Disney World Speedway, the Chevy Trucks Challenge, certainly didn't produce the start to the 1998 campaign that Compton had hoped for. He wound up finishing 30th, but good things were yet to come for the Royal Crown Ford team.
"We really struggled to get out of the hole," Compton said. "We were 30th in points when we left Orlando (Walt Disney World Speedway). When we came away from Homestead, we were 16th, and when we came away from Phoenix we were sixth. To come up with our first pole of the year, then follow that up with a second (place), the team got really pumped."
Following the Chevy Trucks Challenge, Compton and the team strung together four straight top-10 finishes. Included in that was his first-ever NCTS victory, in the Craftsman 200 Presented by NAPA Auto Parts at Portland (Ore.) Speedway. The Northwest proved to be a successful trip, as Compton followed that up with a fourth-place finish at Monroe, Wash., two weeks later.
"Hats off to this Royal Crown Ford crew, we worked all day," Compton said following the win at Portland. "When we unloaded we weren't as quick as we needed to be, and we just kept digging. We kept getting better and better and better. We had a great truck all day long. This Ford just ran awesome. It was a great weekend for us.
The addition of Kevin Cram as crew chief of the No. 86 RC Ford proved to be just what the team needed. Cram was a crucial member of Ron Hornaday's 1986 NCTS championship team.
"I think it's a combination of a lot of things," Compton said. "One, Royal Crown coming aboard, two, (crew chief) Kevin Cram coming aboard. And the whole team really gelled this year. These guys, hats off to them. They do such a good job. If we're off, they dig and really get down and work on what's wrong. From midpoint of the season last year, it started snowballing, and it's just gotten better and better and better."
It wouldn't be until three months later that Compton would reach victory lane again, but it was well worth the wait. Compton scored his first career win on a road course, in the Lund Look 275K at Heartland Park Topeka (Kans.).
The victory proved to be a survival of the fittest, as Compton oulasted several good, veteran road racers in scorching Midwestern heat.
"The first win was good, but the second win was great," Compton said after the victory. "They always say that the first one is the best, and we certainly had a lot to celebrate when we won at Portland earlier in the year, that's for sure.
"But any time you win in this series it's good. We feel real fortunate that we even won a single race. It had been a while since we had won, and that's why this one felt so good. I think it proved that we can be a consistent winner in the truck series, especially if we're able to win at a road course because, really, I'm not a very good road racer."
Compton wound up the season with three top-10 finishes in his last five events.
Source: NASCAR Online