Roush teams looking to double down at Vegas By Brett Borden LAS VEGAS (March 4, 1999) It was quite a show last year when Jack hit the Jackpot at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Car owner Jack Roush had all five of his teams finish in the top-10 in...
Roush teams looking to double down at Vegas By Brett Borden
LAS VEGAS (March 4, 1999) It was quite a show last year when Jack hit the Jackpot at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Car owner Jack Roush had all five of his teams finish in the top-10 in the inaugural Las Vegas 400 in 1998, with Mark Martin winning, Jeff Burton coming in second, Johnny Benson fourth, Ted Musgrave sixth and Chad Little 10th.
Musgrave has since left the Roush stable, with Kevin Lepage taking his place. But the five drivers in Roush's "Royal Flush" of Fords for 1999 say in unison that they are excited about the prospect of once again making out like one-arm bandits in this weekend's third NASCAR Winston Cup race of the year.
"I am really excited to go to Las Vegas in a Roush car," said Lepage, driver of the No. 16 PRIMESTAR Taurus. "We are taking our Richmond car there. Roush had all five cars in the top-10 last year, so it is very difficult not to expect those results again. How about a top-five sweep this year?"
That would be fine with Chad Little, who is off to a good start this season (10th in the point standings) and would just as soon keep it that way.
"This year we enter Las Vegas with a top-10 spot in the points, and the confidence to believe we can stay there throughout the month of March," said Little. "The next four races are at tracks I'm comfortable running, and that adds to the excitement within this team. They're working hard to put the best cars out on the track, with the hopes of making this March one to remember. If we qualify fast on Friday and keep our primary car out of trouble, look for the John Deere Taurus to finish up near the top."
Johnny Benson also finds himself much higher in the point chase (12th) than he was at this time last year (40th). Qualifying for the first two races is mostly responsible but Benson has some good confidence going.
"I am really looking forward to Vegas this year," said Benson. "Going into Vegas last year, we were pretty low in the points, but this year we are a lot higher. We haven't had the finishes we wanted the first couple of races, but we have definitely received some great points. We qualified well there last year and had a great race with our best finish of the season in fourth place."
Jeff Burton would like to improve on his Las Vegas finish last year, but not by much.
"Las Vegas is one of the finest facilities that we go to," he said. "I like the race track because we ran well in both the Winston Cup and Busch Series races. It is also fun to go to a new market for NASCAR and an interesting city like Las Vegas. We are using the same car that ran well in Rockingham two weeks ago, so we should have a strong run this week. We finished in second place behind Mark (Martin) last year. This year we intend to move up one position."
The man who held that position, meanwhile, would like nothing better than to see last year's finish repeated.
"The win at Las Vegas was real, real special," he said. "I don't play up hardly anything, ever, but that was an incredible race track to drive on and it was an incredible win for us. That was the third race out of the box for a brand new team that I had really hung myself out on a limb by leaving a championship-contending race team to go do that deal, so it was a big relief."
And relief translates into comfort. Martin certainly feels more comfortable heading into town than he did in 1998.
"I feel a lot more at ease this year than I did last year," he said. "We had a lot of success at Las Vegas last year and now we know more about what the track is like and how different conditions affect it. Most importantly, we know how to run up front and win. I also feel more comfortable with our pit stops this year. We have already won two races (the Bud Shootout and Rockingham) based on great pit stops. Last year we were fast enough to overcome some of our slower stops to still win, but now we have a more refined team. Now we have all the pieces put together."
Therefore, Martin might be looking to set another standard.
"We missed out on our opportunities at New Hampshire, Texas and California," Martin said of previous inaugurals. "We ran well in all of those inaugural races, but for whatever reason, we didn't capitalize on them. The press asked a lot of questions about it (winning an inaugural race) and I never really put that much stock in it.
"But after I've experienced it one time I sort of view it in a different light than I did before. But, you've got to remember, Jim Fennig, myself and Jack Roush are more interested in making history than enjoying it. Whatever success we have pretty much comes and goes kind of fast for us. It slips by us pretty quickly because we focus on the next opportunity."
And that opportunity will begin with Bud Pole Award Qualifying for the Las Vegas 400 on Friday afternoon.
Source: NASCAR Online