DieHard 200 Saturday Notebook Shawn A. Akers WEST ALLIS, Wis. (July 4, 1998) Some notes and quotes from Saturday's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series DieHard 200 at The Milwaukee Mile: Talk about a roller-coaster ride. Both Jack Sprague and...
DieHard 200 Saturday Notebook Shawn A. Akers
WEST ALLIS, Wis. (July 4, 1998) Some notes and quotes from Saturday's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series DieHard 200 at The Milwaukee Mile: Talk about a roller-coaster ride. Both Jack Sprague and Ron Hornaday were exceptionally strong early in Saturday's race, especially Sprague, who got out to a nine-second lead over the rest of the competition in the first 50 laps.
After pitting under caution on lap 45, however, they were both black-flagged for passing the pace car coming out of the pits, putting each of them a lap down.
Showing just how strong their trucks were all day, both Sprague and Ruttman got their laps back before the halfway break, and started on the tail end of the lead lap in the second half. The pair then methodically made their way through the field and recorded top-10 finishes.
Sprague wound up third behind race winner Mike Bliss and Jimmy Hensley. Ruttman finished seventh in his No. 99 Exide Batteries Ford.
"I just messed up, it's that simple," Sprague said. "I passed the pace car and got myself a lap down. I don't like to make mistakes like that, and I made a mistake. I cost us the race, and these guys (his crew) didn't deserve that. I did all I could to get back up toward the front, but it's just not a long enough race."
"We (both Ruttman and Sprague) were a little better in the first half, but then the second half it went to bed on us chassis-wise," Ruttman said. "Jack was better the second half of the second section of the race." Despite the black flag, Sprague was able to extend his lead in the standings a bit on Saturday by finishing one position ahead of Hornaday. Sprague, the defending series champion, now leads Hornaday by 72 points after 10 races in 1998.
Joe Ruttman, who finished seventh on Saturday, is third in the standings with 1,503 points, followed by Jay Sauter (1,366), Tony Raines (1,360), Stacy Compton (1,295), Mike Wallace (1,252), Randy Tolsma (1,244), Rick Carelli (1,204), and Bryan Reffner (1,191). Stacy Compton suffered a tough break. With six laps to go before the halftime break, Compton led the race. However, the No. 86 Royal Crown Cola Ford ran out of fuel, and Compton had to coast back around to his pit.
Compton lost a lap to the race leaders in the process after coming in to pit, hurting his chances for his second victory of the year. He did get back on the lead lap on lap 135 following a caution, but finished 13th.
"We just miscalculated a little bit," Compton said. "We had an awfully good truck. We ran with the leaders there, we led some, we got a lap back under green, and that's pretty tough to do when you've got competitors like Bliss and Hornaday and Sprague. We had a good truck, but we'll get them next time." Lonnie Rush, driver of the No. 10 A&G Coal Corporation Chevrolet, was headed for his best career finish in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series when disaster struck.
Rush's team, after pitting on lap 110 with fellow competitors Ron Barfield and Jimmy Hensley, attempted to go the final 90 laps without making another pit stop. Barfield and Hensley made it, but Rush did not. Rush fell four laps short, and finished the race 27th. It was a little bit early, but the checkered flag came out on lap 109. No, not to signify the race's end, but the flag inadvertently, with the help of a strong wind, came out of its holster and got away from race starter Chris Morgan and onto the frontstretch of the track.
The second caution flag of the race was brought out for debris on the track, but the race resumed a lap later. Officials in the flag stand had a spare checkered flag handy. If at first you don't succeed.... Well, Jerry Glanville will have to try it again another day. The former head coach of the NFL's Houston Oilers and Atlanta Falcons did not make the field for Saturday's DieHard 200, turning in a best qualifying lap of 116.084 mph.
Glanville, in the No. 81 Unifirst Uniforms machine, spun out coming out of Turn 4 on the first of two qualifying laps. He drove around and tried to get up to speed on the second lap, but didn't quite make it.
Glanville did not even get to qualify for the Chevy Truck Desert Star Classic at Phoenix earlier in the season when he was injured the same weekend attempting to qualify for the NASCAR Winston West event there.
The FOX Network and HBO Sports broadcaster will make two more attempts to participate in a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race -- at Pikes Peak later this month, and at Nashville in August.
Source: NASCAR Online