Jack Sprague was one tough customer today driving one tough Silverado, as he overcame worn tires, a loose lugnut and a second green-flag pit stop to storm back to third place after losing a lap. Sprague's ...
Jack Sprague was one tough customer today driving one tough Silverado, as he overcame worn tires, a loose lugnut and a second green-flag pit stop to storm back to third place after losing a lap. Sprague's #24 NetZero Platinum Silverado was the class of the field after taking over the lead from the Dodge of polesitter Scott Riggs on lap 30 of the 204-lap race. (The race was gridded by point standings after qualifying was rained out) . Sprague led a total of 97 laps today, swapping places with Riggs and Dodge driver Joe Ruttman. When the leaders pitted under green-flag conditions, Sprague, pitting first on lap 160, was forced to pit again at lap 161 to tighten a loose lugnut on the right rear tire. Losing a lap in the process, he rocketed through the field to regain his lap on the 187th circuit, then benefited from a late-race caution period to move into third for the finish, behind Ruttman and Riggs. Dodges have won each of the seven of 24 races so far.
Five Silverados finished in the top 10. Silverados led the most laps: Sprague 97, Kvapil 2 and Hendrick 2.
* SPRAGUE (third, highest-placing Silverado): "I was pretty much driving over the edge trying to get my lap back. I don't know how good the truck was or wasn't; I just knew I had to get spots. I was certainly disappointed. Most of the year has been like this. At Homestead we had a shot at winning, led most of the laps, ran out of gas, on and on. We salvaged this one at least. We had problems and came back to third. Way cool. It's like in Darlington. We were in second place, with a good chance to win and the tire goes flat. That's the way the year's been. My guys have given me good trucks. I have been on the side when I could do nothing wrong, and I've been on the side where I could do nothing right." IS THERE PARITY NOW BETWEEN DODGES AND CHEVYS? "I think there is. We were fast, but when I had 80-90 laps on the tires Joe (Ruttman) was faster than I was. I knew when I changed four tires I could have beat them. From what I saw it looked pretty good to me. I was as fast last weekend on old tires, Joe ran extremely well here on old tires. I don't t know the numbers. NASCAR should take them all to the wind tunnel."
* RICKY HENDRICK, #17 GMAC SILVERADO (fifth, top rookie finisher): "I thought we had a chance for the win on the (last) restart. The #2 truck (Riggs) missed a shift or something and we got stuck behind them. Everyone else picked up momentum and went by. We lost two positions. We're never satisfied when we don't win. Especially knowing that we were four-tenths (of a second) faster than everyone else there at the end. Without the caution we would have finished third. The outside line was so much faster but we just couldn't get up there, so we will take fifth. But we're grateful for the top five and to be the top rookie." IS THERE PARITY? "The Dodges still won. Once they stop winning every race then we will feel better."
* RICK HENDRICK (senior, team owner): IS THERE PARITY? "I think it's closer than we have seen it for a long time. But is there parity? I don't know. I'd like to have a little bit of help on our front end. We just have to wait and see what they do. It was a good race. This was as close a race among all the makes that's been all year. I think they're going in the right direction."
* MATT CRAFTON, #88 FASTTRACK DRIVEWAY SEALER SILVERADO (sixth, after starting 24th . Also finished sixth in the Featherlite Southwest Series Tour race held after the truck race): "I was playing a conservative race. We didn't have the stellar truck that the top three had. I had a good truck; we needed to be consistent today and we were. We hoped to have a good top-five finish, but we came up a little short. We're learning. The crew is getting better every week, the crew is meshing better each week. I'm getting the seat time. We need to get seat time, finish every race, and finish on the lead lap. Great consistency brings up your confidence level so much. Right there at the end we didn't have the tires. We came in for rights, we were on the lead lap. We didn't have the pressures up. If we had the pressures up where they should have been we definitely should have been a top-five truck."
* TRAVIS KVAPIL, #60 CAT RENTAL STORES SILVERADO (seventh, led two laps, continues to lead Rookie of the Year standings, by five points over Hendrick): "We had a pretty good Silverado. We were not happy how it was going after practice yesterday. We made a bunch of changes this morning before the race. We had a real competitive truck. We ran top three, top four most of the day. We went green a long time at the end of the day. I tried to gain track position, to get in a position to win the race. We took two tires, while the others took four. We thought it would pay off. We would have been in the top five. The late race caution kind of bit us. Those with four tires passed me like I was standing still at the end of the day." ON BATTLE ON THE TRACK WITH FELLOW ROOKIE CONTENDER HENDRICK: "We had a lot of fun. Me and Ricky raced hard all day long. It seemed like me and Ricky were side by side most of the day. I was pleased with how he raced me. I tried to treat him the same too. The rookie battle is shaping up to be between me and Ricky out there in the points, but you have Crafton, (Billy) Bigley and (Nathan) Haseleu in there too. Me and Ricky had some good racing today and hopefully it will carry on down the rest of the year and we will win the rookie battle." IS THERE PARITY? "I kind of think so, at least in the beginning stages of the race. As our tires wore out, the Dodges still had more downforce that helped them in the long run. Me and Jack and Ricky were real strong in the beginning of the race, but once our tires started to wear it seemed that the Dodges came around and it seemed the Dodges had an advantage after the long green flag runs."
* DENNIS SETZER, #46 ACXIOM/COMPUTER ASSOCIATES SILVERADO (eighth): "We're gaining major strides the last few weeks. We came from way back in 16th. The crew made good calls all during the day in the pits and we had a pretty good chassis setup all day. Coming together as a team, making changes all day, I'm pretty excited about that. It was a good day for us." IS THERE PARITY? "We appreciate what NASCAR has done. I think they still need to look at things further and make some decisions. A lot of testing could be done. They haven't had (the trucks) in the wind tunnel with these new body changes. There was a chassis dyno at Darlington last week. NASCAR should have made use of it, for sure. We have the tools and facility available. It would have made a lot of sense to put the trucks on the dyno, get numbers, then take them to the wind tunnel. NASCAR is working really hard. Our GM reps are also working hard to give us good Silverados. We want to make sure the playing field is level."
* RANDY TOLSMA, #61 TEAM RENSI MOTORSPORTS SILVERADO (28th, DNF, blown engine on lap 69): "We didn't have a great Happy Hour yesterday. We made a lot of changes to the truck. The Silverado wasn't doing what we wanted it to do. We were fighting something mechanical before the engine explosion. It was so loose at times I couldn't drive, and tight other times. Peter Giles has built some great motors, we couldn't be happier with the reliability. Unfortunately, we had a lot of problems to overcome. To win a championship you have to overcome diversity." IS THERE PARITY? "I think all changes are going to help us. Obviously Jack (Sprague) had a really good setup in Happy Hour and he's good on this race track. I think we're getting to where we need to be. We have to stay on our guard and work as hard as we need to. For the Chevrolets, it seems to be coming back our way."
<pre> POINT STANDINGS:
1. Scott Riggs, Dodge 1190 2. Joe Ruttman, Dodge 1110 3. Terry Cook, Ford 1041 4. Jack Sprague, Chevy 1029 5. Travis Kvapil, Chevy 1024 6. Rick Crawford, Ford 1001 7. Ted Musgrave, Dodge 984 8. Ricky Hendrick, Chevy 981 9. Randy Tolsma, Chevy 937 10. Matt Crafton, Chevy 833
1. Dodge 63 2. Chevrolet 40 3. Ford 30