Drivers better prepared for Memphis By Brett Borden MEMPHIS, Tenn. (May 6, 1999) Problems in the pits -- not on the track -- cost Greg Biffle and the No. 50 Grainger Ford team a shot at Victory Lane in 1998. Memphis Motorsports Park had a few...
Drivers better prepared for Memphis By Brett Borden
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (May 6, 1999) Problems in the pits -- not on the track -- cost Greg Biffle and the No. 50 Grainger Ford team a shot at Victory Lane in 1998. Memphis Motorsports Park had a few NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series veterans singing the Memphis Blues last year. The 3/4-mile oval presented a unique challenge to the teams in their inaugural visit. But with last year's race under their belts, offseason testing plus a practice session this week at the track, the teams and drivers who struggled at Memphis last year are eager to check out of Heartbreak Hotel. "One of our goals in the offseason was to go to Memphis and test well," said Jack Sprague, driver of the No. 24 GMAC Financial Chevrolet.
Sprague lost the championship to archrival Ron Hornaday by three points in 1998. The fact that Hornaday won last year's Memphis 200 while Sprague finished 9th, a difference of 42 points, is not lost on Sprague.
"I was really happy with what we accomplished (in offseason testing) because last year's finish was so disappointing to me," he said. "During the test, we put up some good times and learned some valuable things as far as setting up the truck.
"I'm really looking forward to going back there now and not just struggling to stay in the top-10. If the testing was any indication, we should be able to go back to Memphis and run for the win this time around."
Greg Biffle was running away with the win last year. He had Memphis figured out from the get-go, but not the newly-implemented green flag pit stops. He sat on the Bud Pole, but a tough break in the pits cost him dearly, and he saw a golden opportunity for a victory become a 22nd-place finish.
"It was a frustrating day for us because we were so good," Biffle said. "We made a mistake early and that started the downfall. We should've come in earlier for right side tires and stayed on pit sequence with the rest of the field.
"I just can't wait to get back to Memphis to try to capitalize on what we had. The Grainger truck was just so good, you never want to squander an opportunity like that. We're bringing the same truck that we had last year and we'll put the same setup underneath it. If we use our heads and do what we're capable of, we can win."
Biffle's new teammate, Mike Bliss, finished one spot behind him last year. Like Biffle, Bliss had a strong run going when misfortune did him in. A blown right front tire cost him five laps.
"That was really frustrating because we were running good," Bliss said. "We weren't as good as Biffle or anything, but we could have had a shot at the win.
"Memphis is like two drag strips with more bank to it than Martinsville. You have to get your truck slowed down, have it roll through the middle of the corner to get off good. The track is not hard on tires and it's pretty smooth. You have to get the truck to turn or you're not going to be competitive."
Source: NASCAR Online