Continued from part 1 Q: So how important does Saturday and qualifying mean to you because you don't want to be back in the pack, fighting your way to the front? SPRAGUE: I'm not too terribly worried about qualifying. We sat on seven poles...
Continued from part 1
Q: So how important does Saturday and qualifying mean to you because you don't want to be back in the pack, fighting your way to the front?
SPRAGUE: I'm not too terribly worried about qualifying. We sat on seven poles last year, almost did again in St. Louis. Ted was pretty strong. We're good at qualifying. We're good at racing. We don't seem to have a big, serious problem qualifying. If it's out of the top five, I will be extremely shocked, and I'm going for the pole. These guys give me great trucks, and Chris and the guys work really hard to give me what I want and what I need to get it done.
Every race that we run and we don't win, I get more frustrated and more frustrated. It's hard keeping in check what I'm doing. We're going to win races. I have to win races. The team has to. It's just been a long dry spell. I can't even tell you the number of races we were leading last year and things would happen that we didn't need -- flat tires, black flags. There were four or five more races that we very easily should have won last year and didn't.
We had a legitimate shot at Fontana this year, maybe a slight shot at Martinsville and St. Louis. We're running good. The Chevy Trucks Silverado is running good, and I'm happier by the way it's driving this year than I was last year. The guys just keep doing a better job building the bodies. We've just got to win. I know I keep saying that, but it's driving me up the wall because we've got what it takes to get it done. We've just got to get it done.
Q: Is Mansfield a two-groove track?
SHOWALTER: I was pretty happy with it myself.
SPRAGUE: It was working pretty good. The middle of the race track is where you want to run. That's where the banking is at. That's where you can run the fastest by yourself. I was passing good trucks on the bottom on the flat. I passed (Dennis) Setzer for the lead on the bottom, and I also passed trucks on the outside. I ran over all the girls in the race unfortunately, but that wasn't on purpose. You can race on that race track. If your truck is set up good, you can race. It's just like anywhere else.
Q: How about winning at Mansfield, you being from around here, what did that mean?
SHOWALTER: It was definitely a great feeling. Nobody out there, the regular fan doesn't know how much time and effort that you put into a career in NASCAR. It was just great that you can actually go home, and everybody's there that you talk to all the time and they go 'Ah, you don't work very hard, blah, blah, blah.' And you prove it to them right there in front of them. It was more gratifying than anything else.
Q: You used to drive at Mansfield when it was a dirt track? How much has this place changed?
SHOWALTER: I didn't drive there. I sat in the stands and watched a Late Model race in 1996 or 1997 back when it was dirt. The improvements there have been great. I was reading email today that there are 28,000 seats that are going to be filled there next Sunday. That's just great. It just shows how deep the roots are for racing in Ohio, which makes me happy that my home state can show to the country how much racing is important to them.
Q: What are your duties as crew chief?
SPRAGUE: He's the baby-sitter.
SHOWALTER: I'm the baby-sitter. It's almost like a head coach of a football team or a baseball team. Just like right now I'm doing a lot of scheduling stuff just trying to get ready for actually races past Mansfield. I'm already ready for Mansfield. I'm doing stuff for Charlotte and Dover right now. Actually, we just came back from Chicago testing Monday and Tuesday.
We had a real good test. I'm just downloading all the information that we get out of testing. That way we can relay it to tracks that are similar to it coming up on our schedule. I'm more of a logistics guy and planning, and I let all the guys do all the hard work. I take all the credit for it.
Q: The way that suspensions and fines are being handed down in NASCAR right now, are those really a situation where crew chiefs and crews are just trying to find a way to massage the rules?
SHOWALTER: Yes. There are gray areas that they don't really specify in the rule book. That's the areas that you have to take advantage of. Sometimes we'll go overboard, and we'll probably go further than what we need to. That's what gets us crew chiefs in trouble. If we don't try to get ourselves in trouble, we may not win races. If I go into the race track the same as everybody else, I'll probably run the same as everybody else. But if I push the limits and what the rules are, I'll go out and win races. That's kind of what our job is -- to push the limits and make things go better and make them faster.
Q: Is it a good thing for NASCAR to be open and upfront about rules violations? Or should they do it more behind the scenes?
SHOWALTER: I'm glad that they do it out in the (open). I've already had my share this year. I'm glad they do it. It makes the fans out there think that 'Well, they are trying.' They just don't go to the race track and run the race. They are actually trying to do stuff to better enhance their performance whether they get away with it or whether they don't.
Q: Is there a process for you to go through if you want to make a modification that you think is in a gray area? Is there a process for you to show that to NASCAR?
SHOWALTER: No there isn't unless we do whole body change across the board. We have to present it to NASCAR by July 1 for the following year. Just little stuff that we do here and there that are in between templates or suspension wise, we just do it. You actually just do it until they catch you.
Q: Chris, you come from a racing family. Are your mom and dad still in racing?
SHOWALTER: They actually work for Todd Bodine's team -- the 66 team. Dad (Gary Showalter) is the truck chief there now and mom scores for the team on race day. We're just different teams now. And actually my little brother works on a Busch team. He's over for HAAS on the 44 car working for Justin Labonte. So actually we're finally not all in the Craftsman Truck Series. We're exploring other venues.
Q: How much away from the track do you find yourself asking your dad questions?
SHOWALTER: We still talk a lot. We bounce ideas off each other even at the race track. It's just kind of one of those father-son relationships that it's good to have. You can trust each other. You know what he's got and you know what you've got. You're going to see who's got the better truck and go out there and win the race.
Q: Final thoughts heading into Mansfield.
SHOWALTER: I'm looking forward to going home. I've actually got more people coming this year to the race, so I'll be busy playing crew chief and playing friend. It's a good time, and I'm glad we get to go back to Mansfield. I hope we continue to keep going back to Mansfield. I'm really looking forward to it.
SPRAGUE: I'm certainly looking forward to going back to Mansfield. The fans there are unbelievable -- they were hanging off the fences. And even though it's a small race track, it looked like the Daytona 500 for those people. In the Midwest, they are starving for races -- Michigan, Ohio.
To be able to pull of a win there with our Chevy Trucks Chevrolet, hopefully we can do it again. I'm relatively sure it is going to go back to the race track with the same set-up in it. I'm just looking forward to going back get there. I'm looking forward to getting this truck on the right track, this team on the right track, and going for this championship.