NAPACARD 200 Saturday Notebook By Shawn A. Akers MONROE, Wash. - Some notes and quotes from the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series' NAPACARD 200 at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Wash.: It's early in the season, but it's turning into a...
NAPACARD 200 Saturday Notebook By Shawn A. Akers
MONROE, Wash. - Some notes and quotes from the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series' NAPACARD 200 at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Wash.:
It's early in the season, but it's turning into a two-horse race in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series point standings, and its the past two champions of the series who have the upper hand.
With his victory in Saturday's NAPACARD 200, 1997 champ Jack Sprague extended his lead in the standings, albeit ever so slightly, to 18 over 1996 title winner Ron Hornaday, who finished second in Saturday's 200-lap event.
Hornaday, who posted seven victories a year ago, has two wins already this season in his No. 16 NAPA Chevrolet. Sprague, who put up three wins last season, got his first win of the 1998 campaign.
"It's just like the old days, we me and Jack battling each other," Hornaday said. "It's still early, and there's a lot of guys who will challenge us, but Jack and I are going at each other again.. I guess that's the way it will be all season."
Sprague finished 2.215 seconds ahead of Hornaday Saturay. The two never got a chance at a head-to-head battle as Sprague dominated the event.
Randy Tolsma is having a lot of fun these days, maybe too much fun. The driver of the No. 61 IWX Freight Chevrolet posted his third consecutive top-10 finish on the West coast by finishing third in Saturday's NAPACARD 200.
Tolsma came home second at Portland behind winner Stacy Compton, and he finished 10th at Phoenix after a 20th-place finish at Walt Disney World in the season-opener in January and a 37th-place run at Homestead.
"I kinda like running out here in the West," Tolsma said. "We've made up a lot of ground in the standings. But I just have to thank crew chief Dave Fuge. His experience certainly paid off for us here today.
"This IWX Motor Freight Chevy was absolutely perfect today. I've said all along that this is the most fun I've had in racing, and that's the absolute truth. That's not because we're doing well, it's because it's a great series."
Tolsma has moved into the seventh spot in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series standings, 216 points behind Sprague.
Tony Roper has made steady progress over the last three races, and posted his best finish of the year on Saturday, sixth. Roper, the driver of the No. 31 Concor Tool and Machine Ford, has finished 12th, 10th and sixth in his last three races, but got into an ambulance following the event due to heat exhaustion.
"The mufflers create so much heat inside of the truck that it melted the ducting off the rear end cooler, and all that extra heat was coming inside, and the fumes were coming inside from the plastic and melting off of that cooling duct," said Bob Brevak, owner of the No. 31 Ford. We've got it (the heat) shielded as much as we can, but I don't know what else we can do.
"We had a good run. Things are looking up. We need to quite making some mistakes, but we're starting to get a lot better. This was a good run for us."
Bryan Reffner is also looking good these days. The driver of the No. 66 Carlin Burners and Controls Ford recorded his third straight top-10 finish, coming home eighth in Saturday's event. Reffner's only non-top-15 finish was 31st at Homestead, and he's moved into eighth place in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
Reffner finished eighth Saturday despite spinning out coming out of turn four on the final lap.
"That's another top-10 for us," Reffner said. "I'm just glad the field was spread out so that we didn't lose a ton of positions (after the spin out). I thought for sure we lost a bunch of spots, but they said we only lost two. It was a good run for us, another top-10, I guess."
It was another victory, but Stacy Compton and the No. 86 Royal Crown Cola Ford team certainly had a lot to be proud of Saturday. Compton, who earned his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory two weeks ago at Portland, recorded his third straight top-5 and fourth straight top-10 finish by coming home fourth.
"I'll tell you, this Royal Crown Ford did great," Compton said. "We had a good truck. I kind of dropped the ball on this one. The tire wear looked so good early that we decided to go ahead and run the truck. Goodyear brought a great tire here, and I just ran the truck too hard and a little bit early in the second half.
"It was a great West coast swing. To come out of here with a sixth, a win and a fourth, that's great."
Compton moved into third place in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series standings, 112 points behind Sprague.
Source: NASCAR Online