QUARTET EAGER FOR O'REILLY 300 POINT BATTLE FORT WORTH-DALLAS (Oct. 13, 1999) - Texas Motor Speedway broke new ground in 1997 as the first superspeedway to host the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. The speedway will provide a critical...
QUARTET EAGER FOR O'REILLY 300 POINT BATTLE
FORT WORTH-DALLAS (Oct. 13, 1999) - Texas Motor Speedway broke new ground in 1997 as the first superspeedway to host the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. The speedway will provide a critical battleground in determining the 1999 series champion in the O'Reilly 300 Friday night, October 15.
Four drivers are prime contenders to lay claim to the season championship, one a former kingpin with the remaining trio seeking their first climb to the top of the points ladder. Jack Sprague, the 1997 Craftsman king, leads the points slate over Greg Biffle, Dennis Setzer and Stacy Compton.
Sprague has trailed Biffle in the point listings since midseason but took over the top slot in Louisville, Ken. last Friday night. Sprague, long known as the master of the superspeedways in the truck series, will again pilot the GMAC Financial Chevrolet Silverado in the O'Reilly 300 seeking his initial Texas triumph.
"We are just so happy to be back in the points lead," Sprague said. "Team GMAC knew we had what it took to be there all season, we just had some bad luck. This team has stuck together and we feel confident we can pull this thing (the championship) off.
"We're hoping that we can increase that lead after the O'Reilly 300 this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. Although we haven't won here, we've got one pole and two top-ten finishes so I feel we know what it takes to win on this 1.5-mile track."
Biffle has ruled the Craftsman Series this year with nine victories in the Grainger Ford, eclipsing Mike Skinner's 1995 victory record of eight. His goal in the O'Reilly 300 is to erase bad memories of past Texas races and retake the point lead from Sprague who is 24 markers ahead.
"In a way, I feel like Texas owes us one," Biffle said. "We were really good there in '98 and that was just a case of a lack of experience. This year I can't explain what happened. It's just one of those deals. But we feel pretty confident we can get to victory circle this year.
"The main reason we're seeing the success this year is because I understand what I need to run well and I've figured out how to communicate it to the team. Last year I went to almost every track for the very first time and I spent the whole weekend trying to get used to the track without fully understanding how the trucks handle and how they respond to certain changes.
"I have more experience now so I have a better grip on what we need under us to run up front. Crew chief Randy Goss and I are on the same page. We are just working really well together right now."
Dennis Setzer, winner of June's Pronto Auto Parts 400 at Texas, is ready for the Texas invasion in his Mopar-sponsored Dodge mount. Setzer is definitely one of the O'Reilly 300 favorites.
"Mopar's engineers have really improved the aerodynamic and engine programs for 1999," said Setzer. "With our victory at Texas in June, I think we have a good chance for a sweep."
Compton, also Dodge-mounted in his RC Cola machine, is enjoying the best campaign of his Craftsman Series career. He was an early-season point leader plus he has two straight Texas top-ten finishes to rely on.
"I love this track," Compton commented. "We have a great motor program with Joey Arrington and you need plenty of horsepower at this track. We should be strong all weekend. The fans in Texas are the best. You are going to see a lot of door-to-door racing. We'll put on a good show Friday night."
Also entered in the O'Reilly 300 are Eric Norris and NASCAR Busch Series regular Adam Petty. Tickets are available at the speedway ticket office, by calling (817) 215-8500, on-line at www.texasmotorspeedway.com or at TicketMaster.