Rain has postponed all on-track activity for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series at Daytona International Speedway. Saturday testing was canceled completely; Sunday testing is on weather delay. NASCAR announced they would continue testing for the...
Rain has postponed all on-track activity for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series at Daytona International Speedway. Saturday testing was canceled completely; Sunday testing is on weather delay. NASCAR announced they would continue testing for the NCTS on Monday, January 17, 2005. Former NCTS champions Jack Sprague and Ron Hornaday came to the infield media center for media Q & A:
RON HORNADAY , NO. 6 GM GOODWRENCH SILVERADO:
On disappointment of not yet being able to get testing laps at Daytona:
"While it is boring for, it has actually been a good opportunity for me to get to know the guys on my crew just a little better. We have been sitting around in the transporter kidding around and talking about this and that. Anytime you get away from the shop and spend time with your guys on the road, you learn more about one another and get a chance to know the characteristics of each of the guys and they get to know me. It isn't helping us not getting on the racetrack by any means, but it still is a plus for us to have a chance to just hang out together. I haven't run here in a truck for a long time and we need some laps in our GM Goodwrench Silverado but we will just have to make up for lost time when the sun comes out."
On level of competition now in the NCTS:
"I have continually watched the NCTS because it is truly my love, because this is the series that made my name and the reason I got the call from Dale Earnhardt to drive for him. When we started racing, there were 43 trucks on the short tracks and now there are just 36 so it makes a much bigger percentage of guys who can make the race and then capable of winning the race. It looks like if you don't work hard to win a bunch of races or finish in the top three, you are going to be out of the points hunt. Watching the Kevin Harvick truck last year and knowing what it was capable of, I know I have the equipment to be in the hunt. That is what you are going to have to do to be in the hunt. Dodge has been trying to win this championship for a lot of years and finally did last year with Bobby Hamilton but you have to do what he did which is run hard and solid every week and don't do something stupid if you don't have the perfect truck to win. I have only run a couple of times in the series the past few years, a couple of years ago in Homestead for the team that Jack now races for when Mike Bliss won the championship and that truck drove different from what I used to drive. Then last year I drove the No.47 Morgan Dollar Motorsports Silverado at Phoenix and that truck drove completely different from the ones I had driven before. We qualified well but you have to keep your equipment there throughout the entire race and you can't afford to get off even a little. You can't manhandle and hustle theses things like we used to. They have to handle, you have to depend on your team and you have to be able to tell them what the truck is doing. The format that NASCAR has created for us where at all of the races there isn't going to be any happy hour, you are really going to have to depend on your team to bring you a solid piece to unload and hopefully you don't wreck it and run good right off the truck."
More on changes in the NCTS through the years:
"The overview is 'Hats off to NASCAR'. When they told me they were going to Daytona with the NCTS, I told them they were nuts. When we first started this deal Jack and I had 60 counts of lift in the front and zero in the rear and was spookier to drive these things. SPRAGUE INTERJECTS -- "But it was more fun though" Yes, it was but we went to different kinds of tracks and road courses. But then we came down here to Daytona. I didn't have a chance to run the first race here but Rick Hendrick gave me a chance to take Ricky's (Hendrick) truck right off the showroom floor for the second one and it was amazing the difference at what NASCAR had done with this series. My hat is off the Craftsman for sticking around for all these years to see what this series was going to do, to realize the dream. Five years ago, they were asking me where I thought the NCTS was going to go and I told them then that the sky was the limit. Now they are asking me after there is ten years down where it is going to go and the answer is the same. I guess they could strap rocket ships to these things because they just make them handle better and better. We are on superspeedways now and it is awesome racing. You don't see the NEXTEL Cup team owners and drivers ignoring the truck races anymore, everyone is up watching them or has them on in their haulers because they are all looking for their next talent and the trucks definably put on the best show.
On major highlights of NCTS career:
"There were a lot of highlights in my first years in the series. When I got the phone call from Dale (Earnhardt) and then he and Teresa gave me the opportunity to race their truck and every day after that. We learned by our mistakes and we won races by doing it right. I am sitting up hear because of Dale and Teresa and now Kevin and Delana (Harvick) are giving me an opportunity to drive a great truck."
On Kevin Harvick, Inc program and shop:
"It is unbelievable. I went up there about a year after he (Kevin Harvick) built his first small shop when he was just running a few NCTS races himself. It was a very nice shop. When he told me he built a new shop on the same property, I was trying to figure out where he did it at. When I got up there and saw it, it is just amazing how fast and how well they have done this new shop. The people and the way it is setup with the engineering and they way they do the bodies is laid out, it is done as well as any of the big top-notch shop. It is a first class operation. I have worked for Dale Earnhardt, I have worked for Richard Childress Racing and Kevin has applied a little bit of all of it and new shop just really makes sense. As fast as Kevin has grown his organization in the last couple of years, he will be a premier team in our business. It is pretty remarkable to go from running his own little truck deal part time to a second season full-time NCTS team with a huge sponsor and enough sponsorship to run a full-time NASCAR Busch Series team with Tony Raines, myself at Mexico City and Tony Stewart. And he has plans for the future.
On opportunities available to him after leaving RCR NBS program:
"This is the best opportunity I was presented after learning I was leaving the RCR NBS program because it gave me a chance to come back to the NCTS that I love in a very competitive truck. Jack and I talked about this numerous times, there is so much pressure over there in both Busch and Cup and there is nothing like the Trucks. It was overwhelming the phone calls I received as soon as Richard (Childress) released that I was not returning as his driver and I thank him very much for doing that for me to allow enough time for other offers to come through. This was the best deal for me and the best fit. There were offers from other manufacturers but I have been with Chevrolet all of my racing career, just like Jack, I have never driven anything but a Chevrolet. When they told me I could drive this GM Goodwrench Silverado, I stepped right up to it, there was no question I was going to take it. I feel bad about Matt (Crafton) but I think he understands that I have been with Chevrolet for a longtime, that is was nothing he did. He did a great job for Kevin all of last year. His situation and mine with Richard were about the same. We ran good and good years and I don't know if you call it politics or what but it happened for me at the right time. Kevin just wanted to go up another notch. He knows my driving style and hired a couple more fabricators, he must figure that Jack and I are going run into each other a few times. We are just ready to go racing. I thank Kevin, Delana and GM Goodwrench for the opportunity.
On racing a NCTS truck here at Daytona:
"If you bought a ticket on the best roller coaster in the world, you aren't going to get a better ride than you are at Daytona in a truck. I found that out at Michigan. I think I was running behind Jack and Biffle, about third or fourth, and I caught a good draft. For some reason before that, I never thought a truck could draft like that, I was about 30 truck lengths behind Jack and by the time we came out of turn two, I was leading the race. So coming here to Daytona, the track isn't the widest and now it has the softer barrier walls which narrowed the track up even more so you will honestly see some four wide racing here. You have to find a hole, the trucks draft so well, you have to have a good handling truck here. The last time I ran a truck here, you were doing a lot of lifting and braking but now if you handle well, you have to be able to flat foot it here. We brought two style trucks here to the test, we brought the one they raced here last year and we brought a downforce truck, but we don't know which one we are going to race here yet. I feel like every manufacturer has stepped up to the plate. They have given us better equipment to drive and NASCAR is doing a better job in getting this series better and better. All year it is going to be flat out races. It is going to be the guy who has the most luck go his way this year, who has the best pit stops, and keep their nose clean who is going to win this race, other races and go on to win the championship."