STACY COMPTON (No. 92 Kodiak Dodge Intrepid R/T) NOTE: Compton has competed in two NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races at Homestead. He won the pole in one, qualified second in the other and has a runner-up finish to his credit. In his second ...
STACY COMPTON (No. 92 Kodiak Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Compton has competed in two NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races at Homestead. He won the pole in one, qualified second in the other and has a runner-up finish to his credit. In his second season on the NASCAR Winston Cup Circuit, the 34-year-old driver from Grit, Va., says he may well end up back in the Truck Series or Busch Series next season or "anywhere I can be competitive."
Compton's Cup team, owned by Michigan businessman Mark Melling, is losing its sponsor at the end of the 2001 campaign and hasn't been able to land sponsorship for next season. Compton discusses his season, the upcoming race at Homestead and the outlook for 2002.
"We ran good in the truck at Homestead, and I'm looking forward to going back for the Cup race. We qualified decent (20th) down there last year but got involved in an early wreck and didn't get to finish. I don't have a lot of laps on the track in a Cup car, but we tested down there before last year's Cup race and we had a pretty good test. The track is really nice. It's fast and flat, and it's a really nice facility. The garages and everything are some of the nicest on the circuit.
"We started off pretty good last Sunday at Rockingham, but we got a fender knocked in and were tight the rest of the day. We kept adjusting on it, but we never could get it right and then we got caught in the pits like everybody else on that caution and lost a lap.
"We've got three races left, and you'd like to think you could go and win every Sunday. We've had top 20 finishes at two of the last three tracks and have qualified well at the other. We need to end the season on a good note. Realistically, I don't know if we can win or not. It's tough to do these days, especially with a single-car team. It's really frustrating.
"I've won races in everything I've ever raced. It's tough to battle these $15 million teams every week. You want to run in the top 10 consistently, but I don't see how some people do it. I can't race just to be racing. I'm a racer. I want to win. Everybody wants to be in Cup, and I've worked all my life to get here, but if you can't compete and aren't a threat to win, then it's no fun for me.
"We won both poles this year at Talladega, and a lot of that was teamwork. We qualified fourth at Kansas, and we've qualified in the top 10 some and raced in the top 10 some. But it's just about impossible to do it consistently, and that's no fun. It's a little consolation that we've raced with the big boys on occasion, but it's not enough consolation to offset the aggravation. I want to win races, and I want to compete.
"If I've got to take a Busch ride or a Truck ride, then that's what I'll do. I'd love to stay in Cup. But I also know I want to win or have a chance to contend for the win every week. There's only an elite few who can do that right now because of the sponsorships. I'd say 10 teams top can compete for the win every week, but it's probably more like five or six. When you see a guy like Joe Nemechek win, that gives you a little hope, but then again, that's a multi-car team.
"Andy Petree has a great organization, but Joe's leaving and the sponsor is leaving. If they'd give me a call, I'd love to talk because I think they can be a top 15 contender every week. It's frustrating to the racers when they can't do that every week. Maybe it's not frustrating to the guys who are just out there riding around, but it's frustrating to me. My wife said this is the most miserable she's ever seen me. I'm a racer. We finished fourth in the truck race at Phoenix, and I was disappointed because we had a shot to win. To me, second is just the first loser.
"Dodge has worked with us great, but this is a tough business. It's a tough road, and you've got to take care of yourself. I really enjoyed racing the Dodge trucks, and the Dodge truck drivers had another really good season this year. The Dodge Cup program has really improved, and that's where I'd like to stay, but time is running out. There's not a bunch of those $15 million sponsors out there, and the multi-car teams are going to get the ones that are out there. We've done a lot with what we've had this year, and I'm proud of my guys on the team. I really would like to keep this team going because I think we could be a threat to win next season under the right circumstances. We'll just cross our fingers and see what happens, but I really don't have anything cooking right now in Winston Cup for next year."
DODGE GARAGES NOTES -- Ward Burton, driver of the No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge Intrepid R/T, has had the highest finishing Dodge in three of the last four races. Burton finished sixth last Sunday at Rockingham and jumped two spots in the NASCAR Winston Cup Standings (NWCS) to 14th after 33 of 36 races. Burton has scored three top 10 finishes in the last five events and has moved up from 20th in the NWCS in the process. The 40-year-old driver from South Boston, Va., finished ninth in the final '99 standings and 10th last year. He's currently 98 points behind 13th-place Matt Kenseth and 453 points behind his 10th-place brother, Jeff Burton.... Bill Davis Racing teammate Dave Blaney also moved up a spot in the standings after finishing 14th at Rockingham in his first outing with new crew chief Philippe Lopez. Blaney, the 37-year-old driver of the No. 93 Amoco Dodge, ranks 23rd. He finished his 2000 rookie season ranked 31st. Blaney finished ninth as a rookie last season at Homestead...Sterling Marlin continues to lead the way for Dodge in the series standings. Marlin finished 11th at Rockingham and retained his No. 5 ranking. Marlin is the only driver who has been in the top 10 all season. He currently trails fourth place Dale Jarrett by 65 points and is 118 points behind third place Tony Stewart. Stewart will be going for his third straight Cup victory at Homestead on Sunday.