Las Vegas Qualifying Report

Sprague on Bud Pole, Hornaday 10th By Brett Borden LAS VEGAS (Nov. 7, 1998) Ron Hornaday came into Las Vegas with a 13-point cushion over Jack Sprague in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship chase with only Sunday's Sam's Town ...

Sprague on Bud Pole, Hornaday 10th By Brett Borden

LAS VEGAS (Nov. 7, 1998) Ron Hornaday came into Las Vegas with a 13-point cushion over Jack Sprague in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship chase with only Sunday's Sam's Town 250 remaining on the schedule. After Saturday's qualifying, that cushion is gone.

Sprague will start the race on the Bud Pole, his fourth of the season. He drove his No. 24 GMAC Financial Services Chevrolet around the 1.5-mile speedway at 161.749 mph. He came to town figuring he'd need to win Sunday's race and have Hornaday finish no better than third in order to capture the championship trophy. If things finish the way they'll start on Sunday, Sprague will have his wish, and his hardware.

Hornaday sits back in 10th on the starting grid, turning a fast lap of 160.147. It wasn't bad, but it leaves him with eight trucks he must pass (unless Sprague is one of them) to win the championship.

"We ran a little faster than this morning and I think this run is about as good as we're going to get," said Sprague. "It stuck in the turns about as well as I could have hoped. It was a good run and the whole Hendrick GMAC team is ready to race tomorrow."

As for Hornaday, the track scoreboard initially showed him putting a better lap in than Sprague. The error was quickly corrected, but not before Hornaday saw the misleading rundown.

"Well, I guess we can put it down to driver error," said Hornaday. "I felt the truck was so good in turn one and two and I didn't even lift and I drove it off into three. I actually drove a little bit of push into it. I thought it was actually a better lap than it showed. I came around and it showed that we were No. 1 on the board and I was pretty happy. Then they tell me that they took it back down because I only ran a thirty-three seven.

"That burst my bubble and I'm pretty upset about that. Maybe that's where the truck ran and that's where it needed to run. It works in mysterious ways, so (crew chief) Fred Graves and I will work on it and we'll take this NAPA Chevrolet and do the best we can."

Qualifying second, and making himself the top layer in the eight-truck sandwich between Sprague and Hornaday, was Mike Bliss. Bliss missed his fifth Bud Pole on the season by less than .05 seconds, but he did win the Bud Pole Award for the season. Bliss, Sprague and Greg Biffle all had four Bud Poles this year, but Bliss got the edge based on his five outside poles.

"I wanted the pole," he said. "I don't know what to say. The truck felt really good. We were on the edge, but that is part of going fast. We've got a good truck to race. This truck is going to be really good to race. We'll just hang together and get out of here with a win, I hope."

Jay Sauter, in a close battle with Tony Raines for fourth in the NCTS standings, qualified third, giving him a good chance to protect his 13-point lead over Raines, who qualified 17th.

"We have a great Chevy truck here and it's going to race real well out there tomorrow," said Sauter. "Like every other week, the guy that has the most consistent truck is going to win. You can be fast for a couple of laps and fall off in a hurry. The challenge is to get a set-up under you that's going to be consistent. My hat's off to these Childress guys and we're looking for some good things tomorrow."

Greg Biffle qualified fifth, while Cintas Rookie-of-the-Year rival Andy Houston will start right next to him in sixth. Seventh went to Stacy Compton, eighth to Blake Bainbridge, ninth to Jimmy Hensley, and Hornaday rounded out the top 10.

Source: NASCAR Online

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Greg Biffle , Jay Sauter , Andy Houston , Stacy Compton , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Tony Raines , Jack Sprague , Jimmy Hensley , Mike Bliss