CHEVY NCTS AT DAYTONA DAY ONE - TESTING DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY JANUARY 11, 2008 Jack Sprague, No. 2 American Commercial Lines (ACL) Silverado, met with members of the media center at Daytona International Speedway during preseason...
CHEVY NCTS AT DAYTONA
DAY ONE - TESTING
DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
JANUARY 11, 2008
Jack Sprague, No. 2 American Commercial Lines (ACL) Silverado, met with members of the media center at Daytona International Speedway during preseason testing and discussed winning the Chevy Silverado 250 in 2007, teaming with Ron Hornaday, Jr. at Kevin Harvick, Inc. and other subjects.
ON MEMORIES OF WINNING CHEVY SILVERADO 250 AT DAYTONA IN 2007 AND JOINING KEVIN HARVICK, INC. BACK IN A CHEVROLET SILVERADO AS TEAMMATE TO RON HORNADAY, JR.: "First of all, last year was phenomenal. To win at Daytona is something that very few people get to do, and I never really thought I would do. Tony (Furr) and the guys built me a great truck with great horsepower and I was just in the right place at the right time at the end. We did have a fast truck, we sat of the pole, it wasn't like it was dumb luck. It was a good truck and everything went right for us. It was certainly a victory that I never thought I would achieve just because it is so difficult to win here and you need a lot of help from a lot of people to do it and we had that. It would obviously be great to win here again, but like I said, it is so hard, it is the hardest race to win I think in anybody's career.
"Just looking forward to this year, driving for Kevin Harvick, Inc. (KHI), Kevin and DeLana, with a good friend of mine, Ron Hornaday, my teammate. We have been friends for a long time. We have done this together for a long time and I think we will be able to make each other stronger as far as, sharing information and things like that. Surely, we aren't going to teach each other how to drive or anything, we are both pretty much stuck in whatever rut we are in with that, but I think Rick Ren (Ron's crew chief) and Ernie Cope, my crew chief, Ron and myself, talking and discussing and working on these things, I think we can only make Ron better and us better along the way."
ON THE NASCAR CRAFTSMAN TRUCK SERIES: "This series has gotten so difficult, so hard to win and is so competitive from the early years. I say this all the time and I know it sounds like a broken record, but the early years, there was three, four, maybe five of us that could win these things. It is not that way any more, there are 10, 12 guys that can win these races on any given day. It is very difficult to do that. You used to be able to be off a little bit and still run in the top-10. Now if you are off just a little, you can't even run in the top-10. It has come so far. Like any series, from its inception and goes through the years, it becomes more difficult. There is a mix of drivers in this series. Young to veterans to the older crowd, but it seems like at the end of the year, the older crowd prevails, they win the championships and things of that nature. I can't really explain, why, that is just the way it has been.
"For a lot of us, this series is exactly what we want to do. We don't want to be gone 340 days out of 365 days of the year. We don't want to have 12 or 14 races in a row and never be home. For me personally, I have a daughter and a wife and I enjoy time with them. I enjoy things other than racing. This my career and this is my job and it has basically been my life, but I don't want to wake up one day and my daughter be come and miss all those years. The way it is right now with this series, they can travel with me in the summer. We race 25 events in a 52-week period with only three tests, so it is not a grind. My mentality, I couldn't handle the 36 race with grind with the tests and the things that go with that, at this point in my life, I just not willing to give up the other. It works perfect for me, I enjoy it. The luxury of the schedule and the luxury of being home some is obviously a huge hit in pay so you have to kind of balance it out. We don't make near the money the Cup driver's or the Nationwide driver's make, but we do ok. The less you race, the less you make. To me it is worth it. It is worth having the time with my family and be able to other things."
ON COMPARING HIS CHEVROLET PROGRAM WHEN HE DROVE FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AND NOW WITH KHI: "Chevrolet has always been great to me, everywhere I have been between Hendrick, Haas, Xpress and now with KHI. Chevrolet gave us everything we need at Hendrick Motorsports to do what did and everything at Xpress to do what we did and now they give Kevin and DeLana what we need to do what we are hopefully going to do. Chevrolet has never laid down on the job as far as giving the teams what they need to race. Everything kind of goes in cycles.
"Toyota came in and the number of Chevy teams went down quite a bit and now they are creeping back up and they are good teams. I had a great time the last couple of years with Wyler Racing, another top-notch racing organization, and I have had a great time throughout my career with Chevrolet and I expect to again. They (the other manufacturer and Chevy) are both great companies to work with and have great people they have employed to work with. I just appreciate everything everyone has done for us."
ON RON HORNADAY: "Through the years, from 1995 when the NCTS started and obviously Ron and I started in 1995, he drove for Earnhardt and I drove for Bruce Griffin then Hendrick, a lot of the rivalry and the intense, not all of them, but most of them, were hype, were media and that works. That sells, it made things interesting. We certainly raced each other extremely hard and still do, but I think as you get older, at that point we were both trying to be Cup drivers in 1995 so we were hell-bent on election to do whatever we had do, not that we don't drive hard anymore, but I think we drive each other as well as the other guys like Skinner, Setzer, Musgrave and guys like that with a lot more respect. We aren't trying to get anywhere; we are where we want to be. Back then you could knock the bodies off and still run just as fast, the bodies were horrible aerodynamically. Now they are not, the aero is very important. Don't get me wrong, Hornaday and I have had three or four incidents that we didn't talk for a month or so but that has been in a span of 12 years, so that isn't bad. He is one of my best racing friends. I mean, I say that because, I think in general as racers, when you go home, you don't associate or hang out and do things with other racers, I don't anyway. A lot of race car drivers I know don't either; I know Jeff (Gordon) and Jimmie (Johnson) do. You have your racing family and friends and you have your go home and get away from racing friends and family. Along with Ron, Mike (Skinner) are certainly two of my best friends in racing and I have a lot of respect for the talent that Ron has and I think he does me. I think it is great to be here at Daytona and know that I have a teammate that has my back and I have his back. He has basically had no help the last couple of years as far as someone to draft with because the Chevrolet count has been down, he has been on his own.
"We both have brand-new trucks here and we are gaining ground pretty quick on them as far as speed and we are going to work together, there is no doubt about it. We are going to do whatever we have to do to get the best finishes we are capable of for KHI that we can with both trucks. That is how I won the race last year; all the Toyota drivers helped me. They do a great job at that and Ron and I will do the same."
ON CHANGES TO COMPETE FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP: "I don't see any learning curve or any problem. I have known Rick Ren a long time, known Hornaday a really long time and he swears they drive really good. This is not a place for me to tell you how it is going to go because this Daytona.
And here and Talladega, nothing applies. The learning curve, there are a few guys on my team that I don't really know, but as far as the owner and the teammate and the crew chiefs, we have all known each other for a long time, I don't foresee there being a situation at all.
"As far as chances to win the championship, I think I have a good of a chance as I have ever had. I am not going to compare it to last year, because I left here last year thinking I had a really good chance at it and things kind of went sideways. You never know, when it is your year, it is your year. Last year wasn't, the year before wasn't a bad year. Coming off '06 going in to '07, I thought we really had a good chance at it and I think other people did too; we really had a lot of trouble. But if we can continue on the path that Ron was on last year, then certainly we both have a really good shot at it."
ON CALIFORNIA SPEEDWAY FINISH IN 1999 BETWEEN HIM AND HORNADAY: "I bought him (Hornaday) a truck load of beer. That was a lot of beer; even for Hornaday, but It didn't take him long to drink it. He had nothing to gain at Fontana; he wasn't in the championship hunt. Now if he would have been, it wouldn't have been played out like that, he wouldn't have helped me and that is understandable. We have helped each other a lot, both of us driving Chevrolets through the years. He actually led most of the race, he told me through his spotter who told my spotter, stay in my tracks and we are going to be all right. We drove away from the rest of the field most of the day. Mike Bliss was up there and gave us a run a couple of times during the race. At the end, Ron got to battling with Bliss and missed turn one with a green/white/checkered and I was able to sneak by. It was my day. I won the race and Ruttman ran second, but Ron helped me all day long to stay up there and be up there and draft with him. We have helped each other through the years. Again, you have manufacturer loyalty, as long as you respect and truck whoever is in the other Chevrolet, then you know the right thing to do is to work together, because you aren't going to do it alone."
ON RUNNING ONE AND TWO COMING TO THE CHECKERED, WHAT IS SCENARIO: "I look at it like we better finish one and two either way and not wreck each other. There will be no team orders. If Kevin was in the truck and running second, he certainly wouldn't pass Ron, because Kevin had a lot more to gain than anyone by Ron winning the championship. We are all racers, we all want to win, so if the second place guy can pass the first place guy without wrecking him, then I am sure that is going to happen. But I am sure if one of us takes the other one out, it probably won't be a good Monday."
ON BOTH KHI DRIVER HAVING THREE CHAMPIONSHIPS: "It is what it is. I certainly enjoyed the time I had being the only three-time champion and maybe we can get another one this year and be the only four-time champion, but I have more years left to do this than Hornaday has left, so when he quits, I have a few more shots at it. I am just proud to be one of the three-time champions. I couldn't be sharing it with a better driver than Ron, like I said, he is certainly one of the most talented drivers I have ever raced against, as is Skinner. It came down to two of the best drivers last year to win the championship and either one of them could have done it. I have no ill feelings or jealousy what-so-ever about sharing that with Ron."
-credit: gm racing