Portland Local Heros Ready to Win

Local heroes hope home cooking helps By Matthew Leach PORTLAND, Ore. (April 24, 1998) A little home cooking never hurt anyone. The question is, how much does it actually help? As the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series makes its annual swing through...

Local heroes hope home cooking helps By Matthew Leach

PORTLAND, Ore. (April 24, 1998) A little home cooking never hurt anyone. The question is, how much does it actually help? As the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series makes its annual swing through the Northwest, several drivers are wondering about that.

The Craftsman 200 presented by NAPA Auto Parts marks the series' fourth visit to Portland Speedway, but the half-mile oval has yet to produce a hometown, or even a home-state, hero. Mike Bliss has come the closest, posting two top-five finishes, but the home-track advantage has yet to produce a win here for any truck racer.

Still, the locals aren't complaining about returning to their old stomping grounds.

Greg Biffle, driver of Roush Racing's No. 50 Grainger Ford, is a former track champion at Portland, and won nine races here in a half-season in 1996. His hometown is Vancouver, Wash., just across the state line from Portland. He said his experience at the track can't hurt.

"We were probably closer than we would have been if we hadn't run here," Biffle said. "You've got to find the groove or find the line around the track, which I already knew. That probably helps a little bit."

The main edge, though, according to all the local-boys-made good, is found off the track.

"Maybe in the stands you might have a few more fans," Bliss, who hails from Milwaukie, Ore., said. "That makes you feel good, but not so much on the racetrack. This track's changed since I've been on it."

"I'm more relaxed when I get to sleep in my own house," Biffle said. "Driving to the track this morning, that's a lot nicer. I think it builds a little bit of confidence. I think it does play a little bit of a role."

Randy Tolsma is a native of Meridian, Idaho. Portland isn't exactly right down the street from there, but it's a lot closer than most of the series' stops.

"There's a lot of family that came here, between here and Monroe," Tolsma said. "And I think the majority of our team is from here. Our team is from here, so we'll have a lot more people."

So is there any down side to coming home? Well, there are some inevitable demands when you race in front of friends and family.

"Thousands of people were asking for tickets," Biffle said. "I did buy, between my pub and my race shop, we bought 160 tickets, for people to sit together. They're gone, and there are still 70 or 80 or hundreds of people that want tickets. We just tried to get everybody so they could sit in one group."

As much as it's nice to sleep in your own bed or run on your home track, though, any of these guys would trade any of that for a win. "I'm ready to win just about anywhere," Bliss said.

Source: NASCAR Online

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Greg Biffle , Randy Tolsma , Mike Bliss