BUSCH: Homestead Pole Story

Ruttman grabs second straight Bud Pole By Dave Rodman HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Feb. 25, 2000) Veteran Joe Ruttman of Upland, Calif., showed no signs of slowing down Friday as he won his second straight Bud Pole Award of the season in qualifying for ...

Ruttman grabs second straight Bud Pole By Dave Rodman

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Feb. 25, 2000) Veteran Joe Ruttman of Upland, Calif., showed no signs of slowing down Friday as he won his second straight Bud Pole Award of the season in qualifying for Saturday's Florida Dodge Dealers 400K at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Ruttman, 55, who set a series all-time qualifying record with his lap of better than 187 mph on Feb. 16 at Daytona International Speedway when he won the Bud Pole for the inaugural Daytona 250, topped the field of 36 trucks on Homestead's flat 1.5-mile oval.

His lap of 36.803 seconds, an average speed of 146.727 mph in the No. 18 Dana Dodge Ram was .034 seconds better than outside front row qualifier Greg Biffle. Biffle was clocked at 36.837 seconds/146.592 mph in his No. 50 Grainger Ford.

Andy Houston (146.254 mph) and defending NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Jack Sprague (145.757) were third and fourth in Chevrolets while Dennis Setzer rounded out the top-5 starts in a Dodge (145.576). Marty Houston, Jimmy Hensley, Bryan Reffner, 1999 Bud Pole winner Randy Tolsma and defending race winner Mike Wallace rounded out the top-10.

Despite notching the pole, Ruttman unabashedly said he expected more speed on his qualifying run, which he made as the second truck on the track. He had to hold on for 34 more trucks to try to knock him off his perch.

"The lap was not really what we expected," said Ruttman, who logged his seventh career series Bud Pole and second at Homestead to go with his previous top starting spot in 1997. "The boys had it set up really good and we were hoping for a low (36.) 60 or a high 50. I think I was a little too conservative 'cause it was really good. That makes me a little disappointed."

Ruttman had been fast all day, second to only Sprague in the first one-hour practice and then a full tenth faster than Sprague in the one-hour second session when he was clocked at 36.684 seconds, an average speed of 147.203 mph.

"It was not the lap we needed," he said of his sole qualifying lap. "If I had run the lap I practiced I would've been happier, because we were off a tenth from what we practiced. The truck was better than that so whenever you don't do as well as the truck could do -- and the guys had the Dana Dodge cooking -- you're sorry."

If Ruttman was bemoaning his fate from the pole, everyone behind him had a similar tale of woe. For the second straight race the three series manufacturers divvied up the top-3 starting spots. Houston summed up the rest of the wannabe polesitters with his post-qualifying remarks.

"I overdrove it in Turn 1," Houston said of his lap in the CAT Rental Stores Silverado. "I got in there way too deep. I was going for the pole. I mean I messed up a little bit and I admit it when I mess up and I messed up a little bit today. I wasn't able to pick up the throttle as quick as what I wanted, but I feel like we've got a good chance to win this race and this truck is capable of winning."

Ruttman has started every series event at Homestead since the 1996 inaugural. He started no worse than seventh every time except for 1999, when he scraped into the field in 34th solely to maintain his record of starting every race, to that point, in the history of the series. His best finish, however, is 19th in 1996. He thinks he can better that on Saturday.

"We seem to be real happy about tomorrow," he said. "We'll find out that maybe we're not as good as we think we are. We were a lot better in the test than we are now coming back but we're all right."

All 36 trucks that attempted to qualify made the starting field for the second race of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series' sixth season.

The Florida Dodge Dealers 400K is scheduled to start on Saturday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. ET. It will be telecast live on ESPN2 and broadcast live by the network affiliates of MRN Radio. The second event in the 24-race NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will be preceded by a 150-lap race for the Slim Jim All Pro Series, NASCAR Touring.

-nascar.com-

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Greg Biffle , Mike Wallace , Andy Houston , Jack Sprague , Dennis Setzer , Joe Ruttman , Bryan Reffner , Randy Tolsma , Jimmy Hensley