Pennzoil/VIP Discount Auto Centers 200 Notebook Brett Borden NASCAR LOUDON, N.H. (Aug. 2, 1998) Some notes from the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Pennzoil/VIP Discount Auto Center Tripleheader New Hampshire International Speedway on...
Pennzoil/VIP Discount Auto Centers 200 Notebook Brett Borden NASCAR
LOUDON, N.H. (Aug. 2, 1998) Some notes from the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Pennzoil/VIP Discount Auto Center Tripleheader New Hampshire International Speedway on Sunday:
Ron Hornaday has Laverne. Now make way for "Canned Heat". Andy Houston earned his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in a truck nicknamed by his brother for its sizzling performances earlier this year on flat tracks similar to New Hampshire International Speedway. The truck finished 20th at Homestead and fourth at Phoenix before taking the checkered flag Sunday.
Greg Biffle was almost the rookie who won his first race in Sunday's Pennzoil/VIP Discount Auto Centers 200 at NHIS. Instead, that honor went to Andy Houston. The driver of the No. 50 Grainger Racing Ford had the rest of the field covered, but he couldn't find a Houston solution. "It was a great race," he said. "The crew did a great job, good pit stops, good everything. We just didn't know Houston was coming. I thought Joe (Ruttman) was the next guy back, and then they told me Houston was the next guy back." If Biffle is sick of being runner-up to Houston, it would be understandable. He has been second to him in the Cintas Rookie Standings since Houston's second-place finish in the Pronto Auto Parts 400 at Texas Motor Speedway. When he saw the red-and-yellow No. 60 in his rear- view mirror late in the race, Biffle knew he was in trouble. "He was too close," said Biffle. "And then I couldn't do anything. I was taking it easy up front in case of a caution. But we had a good run. The Grainger Ford was perfect today. Just a little bit on tires at the end of the race."
Biffle may have been second in the race, but he was first on his own team barely. Teammate Joe Ruttman finished third on Sunday, not quite a full second behind Biffle. "We're real happy," said Ruttman's crew chief, Matt Chambers. "Randy (Goss, crew chief for Biffle) and I worked real close on the set-up this weekend and got both trucks really close. Both drivers did a really great job. We're happy with the two, three finish. The 99 truck gained on the 16 and 24 in points, too, so we're happy about that. The race went pretty much on schedule. It is hard to make a plan for the pit stop strategy, but we did the best we could. The tires lasted a lot longer than we thought they would which was a big help to us. It worked out pretty good."
The fastest truck at the end of the race may not have belonged to Andy Houston. Even though the rookie was blazing his way towards the front in the final laps, there was another truck making up 10 positions in the final 40 laps. Boris Said changed right side tires in his final pit stop, and the change made his truck just right. Said was passing trucks on the lead lap as well as those in the back of the pack. He finished 18th, one lap down. "We were running on the cords," said Said of his tires before that last pit stop. "We were having fun -- passing Sprague, Hornaday, and those guys -- after that."
Mike Wallace should make it a point not to qualify in the top four. In the season opener Chevy Trucks Challenge at Walt Disney World Speedway in January, Wallace started fourth and finished a disappointing 24th. In the Pronto Auto Parts 400 at Texas Motor Speedway in June, he again started fourth but came home 12th. In the Tempus Resorts 300K at Pikes Peak (Col.) International Speedway, he started second, put in the fastest lap of the race, but had two cut tires and came home a disheartening 30th. And Sunday saw him start on the pole at NHIS, only to wind up 14th, the last truck on the lead lap. A 15-second penalty for speeding on pit on lap 175 did him in this time. Add to that his travails at Indianapolis Raceway Park, where a solid top-five finish came apart when his engine blew 65 laps from the end. He hadn't started that race from the front two rows, but he did begin in 8th. Wallace's five top-10 finishes this year all came when he qualified between fifth and 12th.
Since green flag pit stops have been introduced to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, there have been fourteen different drivers to have led a race (cumulative) during those three races. There have also been an average of 16.3 trucks finishing on the lead lap, too.
Source: NASCAR Online