It was a tough race for a tough guy in a tough Silverado. Polesitter Jack Sprague, in the No. 24 NetZero Platinum Silverado, had an excellent chance to win his second race of the 2001 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and be the only two-time winner...
It was a tough race for a tough guy in a tough Silverado. Polesitter Jack Sprague, in the No. 24 NetZero Platinum Silverado, had an excellent chance to win his second race of the 2001 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and be the only two-time winner for Silverado. (Silverados have won three races this season with three different drivers: Sprague, Dennis Setzer, Ricky Hendrick). Sprague ended up third, but he was lucky to be there, after losing a cylinder in the closing laps. Sprague led 32 of the 150 laps, swapping the lead with Ted Musgrave's Dodge for the first 109 laps, then trying to chase down Scott Riggs' Dodge from lap 121 to the finish. Riggs came out the winner, while Joe Ruttman passed an ailing Sprague with two laps to go to place second.
Randy Tolsma led three laps under caution, while Coy Gibbs led one, giving Silverado a total of 36 laps led. There were 14 led changes among six drivers and seven caution-flag periods for 35 laps.
JACK SPRAGUE, NO. 24 NETZERO PLATINUM SILVERADO (third): "Yeah. Same deal. I really don't have a lot to say. The guys on the team did a great job. The NetZero Platinum Silverado was really fast. Teddy (Musgrave) gave me a run for the money. He'd lead, then I'd lead. It was fun racing him. I felt like I was punishing the left front tire pretty severely, so I backed off and it's a good thing I did as it was blistered. I was having a lot of fun racing him and when he had his trouble, I thought I was home free. I figured it would come down to the two of us (Riggs and Sprague). We ran three or four laps together before I got by. I thought I was home free. Then with 10-12 laps to go we lost a cylinder. I really was worried about the green/white/checkered. I thought without it we could run second or third as I could run wide open through the corners. Joe (Ruttman) was coming on strong, but I thought I might be able to hold him off. When the green/white/checkered deal happened I thought I was dead meat. I figured I'd end up ninth. But I was able to run better than him through the corners and block a little down the straightaways. At least we finished third. That's better than last week. I don't have any more left in me. We've been fast all year and when we get through all this bad luck, we'll win our share of races. But Mr. Riggs got a Christmas present today."
TRAVIS KVAPIL, NO. 60 CAT RENTAL STORES SILVERADO (made an early pit stop, lost a lap under a long green-flag run, then benefited from a caution after leaders pitted under green, made up his lap, and finished fourth): "We hung in there, kept picking. At the start of the race the Silverado was terribly, terribly loose. I have never driven a truck that loose in my life. We kept adjusting it. When the early caution came we came in to make an adjustment and lost track position. We knew we had to make adjustments to the truck. It paid off for us. Under the long green we stayed out, then we pitted for fuel later than the others. We were lucky to catch the caution at the right time, and we got back on the lead lap. On the last restart I was scrubbing tires and I thought the right rear tire was down. I was right. I pitted and we put right side tires on it. We dug hard on the restart. We made the Silverado work at the end of the day when it counted. The whole team hung in there. It was looking real bad early in the race. We just pulled out a good top-five finish."
DENNIS SETZER, NO. 46 ACXIOM/COMPUTER ASSOCIATES SILVERADO (fifth): "That was a pretty exciting race there. That's a standard Craftsman Truck Series racing -- very tight all the way to the end. You never know. We'd been eighth to fifth all night, we came up with a fifth-place finish. This just keeps our deal going for Morgan/Dollar, Chevrolet and Acxiom, and we're pretty excited about it. We raced real hard to get our lap back. Yes, I hated we had to do that, but we made some good calls in the pits by Danny Gill, and the guys made some great stops. It got us back out on the lead lap. It was a good night for us."
RICKY HENDRICK, NO. 17 GMAC SILVERADO (sixth): "I tell you, besides Darlington this is the worst experience we have had since we have been in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. We had a great Silverado yesterday, got the outside pole. We just started way too loose. The truck got loose on me in (turn) four. I tried to save it, but I did a 360. We got a lap down, we got it back, and finished sixth. That's a way off how we finished last week." ON THIS TRACK: "It's rough. It's a challenge. That's what's cool about going to different places. Every track has its own characteristics. This track has its own characteristic. If they leave it that way I think it's fine. You just have to work hard to make your truck better."
RANDY TOLSMA, NO. 61 TEAM RENSI SILVERADO (eighth): "It was a good night. It certainly could have been better for this Ammbusher.com Silverado. We were passing for third with one to go and ended up eighth. We spun out, we were lucky to not crash. The truck was tight all night; it didn't seem to respond to changes. We had a good truck when we unloaded on Friday and didn't have that truck at race time. We used this as another test; we tried some things. I think really for the first time we have a good idea of what our problem has been. That's a good thing. We have a top-10 finish. I would have loved to have had a top-five to get a momentum builder. When you're running third and you end up eighth it seems like a bad day. When you were 18th the week before it's a good day. We will look at the positives, go to Loudon. That's a good race track for us. I finished third there a year ago. We're taking a similar truck to the truck we had a year ago. I think we analyzed some of the problems. All things we're looking forward to are positive. When you have a green/white/checkered finish you will have a lot of action. We were the action; that's the sad part. We had a top-10; that's what we're looking for right now."
BILLY BIGLEY, NO. 75 SPEARS MANUFACTURING SILVERADO (10th): "We ran out of gas. I was coming down the pit lane and then I couldn't see my pit sign. It was driver error. I just missed my pit stall, they had to push me back and I was out of gas. We knew we wouldn't qualify good, but we knew we wold race good. To have problems like that and come home with a top 10, we're pleased. Maybe the driver won't make that kind of error next time."
COY GIBBS, NO. 20 MBNA SILVERADO (ran as high as third, finished 19th): "Ricky and I went into the corner hard and he pushed up and got the truck out of the groove, and I spun out. I think we had a shot to win this one. We were the only ones sitting there with four (fresh) tires at that time. That's frustrating. We knocked the ductwork in and overheated it and knocked a fender and flattened one of the tires. We were going into (turn) one with about 25 laps to go; I had just picked up two spots right before. It was highly disappointing, but we're gaining a little more respect." IS THIRD THE HIGHEST YOU'VE RUN? "I think fourth was the highest I've ruin. That's good. I'm frustrated for the guys because we have trucks that can win races; we just have to put one together. We were good; we were good from the start. The credit goes to Gary (Showalter, crew chief) and the calls he made, with the help of Bo Fletcher, who gave us a real good body, and GM Racing's Dayne (Pierantoni). We learned a lot in the wind tunnel. We were there four times. I went once. It was good, but after 14 hours I'd had enough."
MATT CRAFTON, NO. 88 FAST TRACK DRIVEWAY SEALER SILVERADO (21st): "We had a pretty good truck, we were running on the lead lap. We were coming up to the pit stop and Ted (Musgrave) had a great truck. We were trying to stay on the lead lap and I was actually trying to get down out of the groove to let him by. There was no stopping him, he had an awesome truck. He was going by me. And as he was going by me it just took the air off my spoiler and I tried to catch it as he was going by me. I overcorrected and got into the side of him. Put us out of the deal. I guess that's racing. I'm paid to be out here to race; I'm not paid to go out here and roll over and die. I had no intention to crash anybody, but I'm not going to completely get down on the bottom of the track and put the flashers on. I think it was just one of those racing deals; I don't there's much I could have done at that point."