Stacy Compton Interview



YOU HAVE TALKED ABOUT NOT BEING A ROAD RACER, AND LOOK WHAT HAPPENED AT TOPEKA ON SUNDAY. "It was pretty funny. I was talking to Mike (Powell) at Tex Powell Racing that does all the gears and transmissions for us. We unloaded, and we were quick as soon as we got there. And Mike said, 'I've seen it happen. It's just like a bolt of lightening hits you. I've seen it happen to Rusty Wallace. Just boom. All of a sudden he could drive a road course.' So they gave me a hard time all weekend about having that bolt of lightening. We went there with a really good truck. Kevin Cram brings a lot of good experience from Ron Hornaday's team. When we unloaded we were good. The driver messed up a little bit in qualifying and started us a little further back, but we had a good truck all day, and just stayed in contention. We ran in the top-ten all day, and come away with the win."

THIS YEAR YOUR TEAM AS BEEN A MODEL OF CONSISTENCY. YOU HAVE ONLY HAD THREE DNF'S, AND IN THE OTHER 15 RACES YOU HAVE FINISHED ON THE LEAD LAP. "I think a lot of that is the equipment that we've got, plus the preventative maintenance that is done on these trucks, as far as I'm concerned, is second to none. They have done such a good job on these trucks that I don't worry about part breakages. I don't worry about things that can go wrong on the truck. If there is a part breakage, it generally is not something the guys do. Their preventative maintenance is so good that I think that has a lot to do with the consistency. The bottom line David (Hodson), our owner, has given us good equipment to work with. We can go out and competitive and run with these guys. We have been pretty fortunate. We've had three DNA's and it has really hurt us in points. But we can't complain. Like you said, we've run on the lead lap every race. I guess we're third in most laps led, if I'm not mistaken. So for the second year out, to run with these guys like we have, you have to consider you are running with some of the best in the business. To run with these guys week in and week out we're pretty excited about it. Granted, we've still got a lot to learn. I've got a lot to learn. But for a second year team, we're certainly pleased with our year so far."

EVEN THOUGH THIS IS PROBABLY THE BEST YEAR OF YOUR WHOLE RACING CAREER, YOU HAVE SAID YOU KIND OF FEEL THIS YEAR COULD HAVE BEEN A WHOLE LOT BETTER. "Well, we do. If you look at it, if we had had any luck at all this year we could possibly have won more races by now. We finished second at Nazareth to Hornaday. I don't know if we could have outrun him or not, but we started 32nd, and had a long ways to come. We led a Milwaukee, and ran out of gas. We led 167 laps at Flemington and come out of there with a wrecked truck. Just a racing incident. Terry Cook had an excellent truck there and was running well, and we got together a little bit and come out on the short end of the stick. We had a great truck there. Of course we won Portland, and we won this past weekend. We certainly can't complain about our year. It has been a heck of a year so far. We set goals at the beginning of the year that we certainly hoped that we could achieve, and we've achieved them so far. We've had to go back and set a little bit higher goals. That is something that very seldom you have to do in this racing business."

TELL US WHAT THE FANS CAN EXPECT AT LOUISVILLE, WHAT THE TOUGHEST PART ABOUT THE TRACK IS, AND WHY YOU LIKE IT. "Actually, we're excited about going back to Louisville. I hate that we're not going to be able to do the pit stops like NASCAR has changed, and we have been doing lately. But the pits aren't quite big enough to accommodate the speeds, and coming into pit road and what not. And I hate that because I'm really enjoying the pit stops now. The guys on this Royal Crown Ford are doing such a good job. When we go in the pits, generally we gain spots, and it makes my job a lot easier. But I think probably we're going to see one of the best short track races around. Chevrolet went there and tested. The track has made some improvements, and everybody says it is a little bit different. But we're really excited about going back there, especially coming off a win. We've got a little bit of momentum now going into Louisville."

THE SERIES IS CHANGING. THERE HAVE BEEN SIX DIFFERENT WINNERS THE PAST SIX RACES. TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE BALANCE THE SERIES HAS NOW. IT'S NOT JUST TWO GUYS OUT THERE. "I think a lot of the credit needs to go to NASCAR for making the series as competitive as what it is. The manufacturers, Ford, Chevrolet and Dodge, you've seen all three brands win this year. It's simply because NASCAR is keeping the series so competitive. At any given race there are 10, 12, 15 trucks that can go after the win. I'm telling you, you've seen some of the best racing there is on the Craftsman Truck Series simply because we race. NASCAR lets us get in there. Sometimes they think we get a little bit too rough, but most of the trucks that we run are short tracks. You basically have got to get in there and race really hard. It makes for some awfully good races. There have been so many different winners. It's a great series, and I'm thoroughly enjoying it. It is competitive. I know that."

WAS THE CRAFTSMAN TRUCK SERIES WHAT YOU NEEDED TO BRING YOUR DRIVING UP TO ANOTHER LEVEL? "I think so. If you look at it, it was so aggravating trying to get to that next level. Everybody kept saying, you need seat time. You need seat time. And I kept thinking, man I've been running since I was six years old. How much more seat time do I need. But I didn't have seat time in a heavy vehicle with a lot of horsepower. And I realized that after I got involved in the series. I think the Craftsman Truck Series is a great place to race, and I think a lot of people are going to find a home there because NASCAR is doing such a good job with it. The media is there. The TV is there. The media is great to us, and the fans - there are a ton of fans every time we go. It has done a lot for my career, and it has given me a lot of situations where I've had to run different than what I did when I was back in late models. I think the series has been great for me. And I think it is a great place to get experience at a competition level that is second to none."

AS IMPORTANT AS SEAT TIME IS, ISN'T BEING IN FRONT OF THE CAMERAS AND BEING ABLE TO SAY YOUR SPONSOR'S NAME SOMETHING YOUNG DRIVERS NEED TO GET? "Now days, it is more being able to sell your sponsor's product. And it is funny that you mentioned that ten or fifteen minutes ago, WIX Filters which was a product sponsor for us signed on as an associate sponsor for the remainder of the year. We're really excited about them coming aboard, and I can get a little plug in for them. But you are exactly right. You've got to be able to get out there and sell that sponsor's product. Regardless of how successful your program is on track, if we don't get out there and sell RC it is not a successful program. We do a ton of shows and appearances. You've got to remember to get those sponsors out there because they are paying the majority of the bills. So the more you can get that RC out there in front of the camera and in front of the people, the more successful your program is going to be."

THE ONE THING TOPEKA PROVED, YOU SHOWED PEOPLE YOU CAN BANG AND STILL KEEP THE TRUCK TOGETHER, AND YOU ARE DOING IT ON A ROAD COURSE AND THAT IS IMPORTANT. "It is. You've got to finish these things. I'm probably not as hard on equipment as far as running across curbing as a lot of the road course drivers are, and sometimes I probably don't run quite as quick as a lot of the road course drivers, but the bottom line is you've got to finish these races. You've got to have good equipment. Equipment-wise, I think everybody out there probably has the best money can buy. I had a bad habit in practice of getting into the corner just a little bit too hard, and locking up a left front or a right front tire, and we'd come in and have a flat spot on a tire. In turn, what that meant was we'd just killed a tire. I knew if that happened in the race that I was going to have to come in and take on tires. My spotter, Cal Lawson and the crew chief and all the guys on the crew, the whole race, they just kept saying, remember those tires, remember not to burn those tires up. Remember not to lock those things up. I really concentrated on trying not to do that all day. I think I did one time during the race. In practice I think I did it about every lap at one time or another. So you've got to get out there and run hard, but you've got to finish these things. You've got to go a little bit easy on equipment. We've proved that we can do that somewhat, and I think our consistency has shown that. We've had a good year. Some of it's been driver, but a lot of it's been crew. It's been the preventative maintenance that's been done on the truck."

A LITTLE WHILE AGO YOU SAID YOU HAD FOUND A HOME IN THE CRAFTSMAN TRUCK SERIES. IS IT IMPORTANT FOR THE FUTURE OF THE SERIES FOR DRIVERS TO FIND A HOME HERE INSTEAD OF SAYING THIS IS A GOOD TRAINING GROUND FOR ME TO GO OTHER PLACES? "Oh, I think so. You look at Ron Hornaday who has done so much for the series. Ron has said on a great number of occasions, this is a great place to be. This is a great place. This is a great series. NASCAR wants to make sure drivers want to stay. Joe Ruttman, he does so much for the series. If he ever leaves the series he could be a stand-up comedian. I think it's good for the sport. You've got to get that name recognition out there. People want someone to pull for. You've got a ton of fans out there that just like the truck racing. A race fan is a race fan, and I'm the same way. If there's a race on, I'm going to watch it. But when you've got a Ron Hornaday who is there, or a Joe Ruttman that you know is going to be there for the next five years, then all of a sudden they are going to pull for you because they know you are going to be there."

TALK ABOUT THE SUPPORT YOU HAVE FROM YOUR HOMETOWN AREA. "The support that we've had from our local fans has been phenomenal. It's unreal. You come home, and there's signs up saying 'Congratulations Number 86 Royal Crown Ford' and things like that. It's one of the reasons I like where I'm at. The support here has just been phenomenal. We certainly appreciate it. The media has done such a good job of covering what we've done, the support has been just absolutely unreal. It feels awful good coming back home."

IT WAS HOT IN TOPEKA. YOU LOOKED LIKE YOU NEEDED OXYGEN AFTER THE RACE. "I told somebody, I'm ready to talk now. After the race I was pretty beat. It was hot. Last year it was hot there. It gets so hot in the truck you get tired. I think the lack of oxygen is a big factor. I looked over at Jimmy Hensley, and I thought man, he looks bad. I went back and saw my interview on tape, and I thought man, is that me? It's pretty hot, but you look at the Winston Cup guys, and they run 500 laps at Bristol. But the race at Topeka is a long, long race for the truck series. With the heat that we had there I know a lot of people were struggling. I talked to one of Mike Bliss' crew members, and they said they thought Mike was going to need some relief during the race. I thought it a couple of times, but I didn't say anything. It's amazing when you get to running in the top-five, some way or another there is always a little bit left. I was pretty beat after the race. I know there were a lot of people hot, and wanting to get out of those things. But when you take the checkered flag, it gives you a boost. I sat in the truck for a few minutes, and I thought can I get out of this thing? But you catch a second wind, and after I got out and got some fresh air about ten minutes later I was pretty good. But it was pretty hot out there."

THE OFFICIAL TEMPERATURE WAS 99 DEGREES, BUT I BELIEVE IT WAS 105 OR SOMETHING. "It was pretty warm. I think they stuck a thermometer in Mike Wallace's truck, and it was like 173 degrees or something like that. It gets pretty warm in there. Those nine and a half to one motors pump out some heat. Plus on a road course, there is not a lot of air stirring. In California it was pretty hot, but on ovals you get a lot more air in those things than you do on a road course. There wasn't much air in there this weekend."

TALK ABOUT YOUR SECOND WIN AS COMPARED TO YOUR FIRST AT PORTLAND. WAS THERE A FEELING OF URGENCY TO GET ANOTHER ONE? "Not a sense of urgency when you look at all the teams out there that have not won a race. We feel real fortunate that we've won a single race. But you know we looked at it like we'd had a good year. You never can predict where you are going to run good. At Indianapolis, we felt like we would be really good, and we never could put our finger on what was going on there. At Nashville we thought we'd be good. Last year at Flemington we were absolutely junk. This year we led 167 laps there. The road courses, traditionally we haven't been real good on. But the bottom line is I think with the team we've got, we've gained a lot more experience. We've take good notes, and with Kevin Cram coming in it brought a lot of knowledge that helped me. The first win was good. The second win was great. I think any time you can win in this series it is good. I am not the best road racer out there. Somebody asked what RC stood for, and I said it must stand for road course. It wasn't a sense of urgency at all. It was probably a sense of thanking the good lord for a safe race and not breaking anything. We feel real proud that we could be in contention, and we were in contention all day. We ran top-five just about all day. Boris (Said) got off course on that one restart, and we got by him and we took over second place, and I thought we've got a shot at this thing. The second restart we got a good run on Mike Bliss, and as we got inside of him with three laps to go he blocked. He did what he was supposed to do. I went to the outside, and I thought with three laps to go I'm not going to wreck both of us. Maybe I can get him somewhere else. I backed off to go in behind him, and about three corners later I was right on his bumper and he blowed a motor. We feel real fortunate that we had equipment good enough to be there in contention, and we feel real fortunate that we came away with the win."

TALK ABOUT LOUISVILLE, AND HOW YOUR EXPERIENCE THERE LAST YEAR WILL HELP YOU THIS WEEK. "We ran pretty good at Louisville last year. When we unloaded I thought, what a unique place. We should be good here. I went out for the first lap into the first corner, and just about knocked the wall down. I just got in there really hard, and I thought well I guess I can't do that any more. I tried to race really hard early on, and I think patience is really a virtue at Louisville. As the race went on, I followed Rich Bickle and Ron Hornaday, and I really learned a lot following them about how to get around that place. It's not how hard you drive, but how you get through the corners. That's one of those tracks where the slower you go, the quicker you run. Louisville is just one of those unique places. Portland is a little bullring, and we ran good there. Flemington is a place where you use about half the motor that you've got, and we ran really good there. At Louisville horsepower is not a big issue. You will actually try to detune those things to get around there. We ran sixth there last year, stayed around the top-five all day. That's one of those tracks we are really looking forward to going back to. I hate that we're not doing the official pit stops. We'll do a competition caution, but it will be awfully good racing."

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Rich Bickle , Rusty Wallace , Mike Wallace , Stacy Compton , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Terry Cook , Joe Ruttman , Jimmy Hensley , Mike Bliss