Chevy Trucks 150 Friday Notebook By Dave Rodman PHOENIX (April 17, 1998) Stacy Compton has his sights set on becoming a force at each event in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series schedule, and after two hours of practice Friday for the Chevy...
Chevy Trucks 150 Friday Notebook By Dave Rodman
PHOENIX (April 17, 1998) Stacy Compton has his sights set on becoming a force at each event in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series schedule, and after two hours of practice Friday for the Chevy Trucks 150 at Phoenix International Raceway, he seems to be on target.
Compton posted the best lap of the 38 trucks on hand for Sunday's third round of the 27-race series when he circled the unique one-mile Phoenix oval in 28.438 seconds, an average speed of 126.591 mph, in the No. 86 RC Cola Ford.
Bud Pole Qualifying for the race is set for 4 p.m. EDT on Saturday. The fastest 31 trucks will qualify for the race with five provisional starters filling out the 36-truck field.
While Compton is the early favorite for the Bud Pole -- which would be a career first -- he'll have to contend with the man who could claim at least partial ownership of Phoenix, defending series champion Jack Sprague.
Sprague, who has won three of the six Bud Poles offered in Phoenix's three years of running a pair of series events, was lurking in third after Friday's practice, at 28.501 seconds, 126.311 mph in his No. 24 1-800-MARROW2 Chevrolet.
He and Compton sandwiched resurgent Ron Barfield, coming off a strong top-five finish at the Florida Dodge Dealers 400. Barfield fell into second on the practice sheet at 28.496/126.334 in the No. 35 Ortho Lawn & Garden Chevrolet.
As usual, one second separated the first 31 trucks on the practice sheet. Lance Norick in the No. 90 NHL Dodge and Mike Wallace in the No. 52 Dayco Chevrolet rounded out the top-five in practice, just ahead of rambunctious Cintas Rookie of the Year Greg Biffle, who was sixth-quickest in the Grainger Ford.
Rick Carelli, who is tied with NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver Ken Schrader as the career victories leader at Phoenix, had his practice time slashed after engine problems in his No. 6 RE/MAX International Chevrolet put him on the sidelines. The crew was finishing the engine change at 5:45 PDT.
Crew chief George Church said the engine was the same piece that was in the truck at the Florida Dodge Dealers 400, where it was one of the strongest and "probably should've been changed before we came here," Church said.
A trivia question: Who carried Circle Bar sponsorship on a race vehicle prior to Florida Dodge Dealers 400 winner Rick Crawford?
The answer: Chet Fillip, the USAC open wheel stalwart who had Ford aficionado Tom Mitchell 's Circle Bar Truck Corral in Ozona, Texas, writing on his No. 81 Thunderbird in 1986 on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Fillip, who ran Indy cars from 1982-85, is a strong runner in USAC's Stoops Freightliner Sprint series and the Silver Crown series, as well as some local Indiana Late Model short track racing.
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series regular Lance Norick , seeking to maximize his available seat time, will run the NASCAR Winston West Series Phoenix 150 on Sunday afternoon prior to the Chevy Trucks 150 in an ex-Darrell Waltrip Motorsports Chevrolet that was recently purchased from the team.
L&R Motorsports is running the car out of their own shop and they're doing their own engines, according to team principal Ron Norrick .
"This car is so much better than the one Lance has run in previous NASCAR Winston West races, so I can't wait to see how he can do," said the elder Norick.
"You need to have a good handling car, a good engine, and good driving ability," said Rick Crawford of what it takes to get around Phoenix. "Sure, this place is different, but you can race here. You can put on a show."
"Local experts" said the oddly-shaped track was built with the limitations of the terrain, including "bedrock" that restricted construction, and property restrictions. PIR has four corners and a flat-out "dogleg" in the backstretch, which runs downhill.
"This is a track where the driver can make the difference, and that's why I like it," Crawford said. "There are some tracks you don't like. But you have to race at them so you have to like them. The mental aspect of this game counts for a lot. You are going to have tough tracks but if you didn't, everybody would be doing this."
Former NFL head coach Jerry Glanville made his return to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in the No. 81 UniFirst Uniforms Ford at the venue where he scored one of his best qualifying performances ever -- ninth -- last season. The Chevy Trucks 150 was one of only two races Glanville ran last season, with his last start coming at The Milwaukee Mile in July of 1997.
Glanville was involved in an accident in his last Phoenix start and finished 32nd. He started 33rd and finished 29th at Milwaukee after his truck's engine failed.
Jimmy Hensley provided one of three interruptions to two hours of practice after he spun coming off Turn 2 when the right front tire deflated on the No. 43 Cummins Dodge. Hensley didn't hit anything, but his problems getting around the track continued as he was 23rd quickest in practice.
Series neophyte Milan Garrett of San Diego, Calif., shorted his No. 85 Champion Wheel Ford a bit when he crashed in Turn 4. The team put their heads down and worked into the early evening to repair the truck for Saturday's Bud Pole Qualifying session.
The only other interruption to practice was for an oil spill in Turn 1.
Team owner Dominic Dobson had veteran stock car racer Randy MacDonald, the versatile Oshawa, Ontario, driver who had been working as crew chief for Dick Greenfield No. 06 Dodge, on hand as a "consultant" with his No. 78 MCI/Mopar Dodge.
"I'm going to be working with the team this weekend, trying to help Dominic get up to speed," said MacDonald, who drove Greenfield's Dodge at Homestead and who will attempt to make the NASCAR Winston Cup Series DieHard 500 on April 26 in a car owned by Frances Dixon.
Dobson continued to struggle with the heavy trucks as he was 37th quickest of 38 trucks that posted times.
Source: NASCAR Online