JACK SPRAGUE, ...
JACK SPRAGUE, #24 NETZERO PLATINUM SILVERADO, claimed his and the Chevy Silverado's first pole position of the year today, sharing the top row with his teammate RICKY HENDRICK, #17 GMAC SILVERADO, who snagged the outside pole -- making it an all-Hendrick Motorsports front row. Sprague's last No. 1 qualifying effort was in Phoenix in March, 1999. Third out to qualify, Hendrick held the top spot until his teammate Sprague, approximately the 24th truck on the track, knocked him off the pole. Sprague's 30.192-second lap at 162.878 mph is the "new" track record. Hendrick posted a 30.273/162.442 qualifying lap.
YOU KNOCKED YOUR TEAMMATE OFF THE POLE. ARE YOU SURPRISED?
"Very much so. When Ricky ran that lap I thought I had nothing for him. I ran 30.37 in practice and I was pretty much out of control then. That was the down part of the deal. I had to knock him out to do it. If I could go down the front straight into (turn) one, not brake, not lift and stick, I had a chance for it. It stuck. I was carrying a lot of rpm in (turn) three, it bottomed out, jumped a couple of lanes, I put the pedal back down, got a little loose, and kept it off the fence. I haven't had a pole in two years; I wanted it bad. If I gave it away I wouldn't be a racer." ON RACE STRATEGY: "If you have a decent truck, the cream is going to rise to the top. You are going to run decent and do well. We will run as fast and as long as we can and try to keep the tires on it."
ARE YOU SURPRISED THAT YOU HAVEN'T WON A POLE IN SO LONG?
"We don't concentrate heavily on winning poles. When you only have 30 minutes or an hour to practice -- not like here where we had a test day -- we concentrate on the race setup, and I think it shows. I will race the Silverado basically the same as it is (right now). We might change rear shocks, that's about it, and maybe a few things after Happy Hour to make it a little better and see if it works."
"It's a tough place. To beat Bobby (Hamilton), who's a master here, is pretty awesome. Ricky has nothing to hang his head down about, coming here for the first time and getting second. We knocked the Dodge off the pole, maybe we can knock them off the podium tomorrow."
YOU HAD THE POLE FOR A WHILE. ARE YOU DISAPPOINTED?
"Yes, it's one of those deals. Darlington is a tough place to drive. We were happy to sit on the pole, yada, yada, yada, have the track record, all that fun stuff. I told the guys, 'you have the hard guys behind you.' We got a shot. I know how Jack is, especially when I'm out there. Jack is going to step it up to the next level. I had a feeling Jack was going to do it. It really wasn't a surprise to me. My guys have worked hard all week long. Many people remember the pole, but they always remember who won."
HAVE YOU RACED HERE BEFORE?
"We have been here testing twice in a Busch car, made one race, missed one race, had a tough race in the Busch Series last year. We qualified 30 or 31; we didn't do very well. It's about the same as the truck. I thought I drove my butt off in the Busch car and didn't do so well."
TRAVIS KVAPIL, #60 CAT RENTAL STORES SILVERADO (30.407, seventh, the next Silverado behind Sprague and Hendrick):
SHOULDN'T YOU BE HIGHER ON THE LIST?
"We should be. We are a little disappointed. Seventh is a pretty good starting spot; we went a little bit faster in practice than what we did in qualifying. Obviously, we were a little disappointed with the qualifying effort. We didn't miss it by much, just a little bit. We should have a pretty good truck for tomorrow. The whole race tomorrow is going to be about tire management, who's got the better handling race package. I think that's what we will have."
"I like it, it's challenging. Both ends of the race track are different. You have to drive both ends different. There's no relax time, you have to be consistently up on the wheel driving hard. You have to be careful, it will jump out and bite you, that's for sure. I got a stripe yesterday. The best advice I heard is to race the race track and not the competitors. That's definitely my plan for tomorrow."
RANDY TOLSMA, #61 TEAM RENSI MOTORSPORTS SILVERADO (30.513, 10th):
"I am real happy with qualifying. That's the best qualifying effort of the year for the Team Rensi Silverado. We continue to improve, we ran a little better than we practiced. Anytime we make improvement like that we are happy. The race is what we look forward to. I think this track plays into my hand as a driver. I like tire conservation races. This is definitely that kind of race track and more. We will run a few laps in Happy Hour, make adjustments and prepare for the race."
ON DARLINGTON: "It's just a real abrasive place on tires. You have to drive within your limits, not abuse the tire. They're certainly going to fall off and go slower and the guy who falls off the least amount is the truck to beat. It's yet to be seen who that is. There are a lot of variables -- new track for the series, drivers who have experience here, the weather, pit strategy, tire wear -- which is what I like."
DENNIS SETZER, #46 ACXIOM/COMPUTER ASSOCIATES SILVERADO (11th, 30.640):
"By far qualifying was the best we have been all weekend long. We were pretty far off yesterday during the optional test session but the Acxiom/Computer Associates Silverado team has really worked hard to get us to this point. I think we will have something for them in the race. Darlington is the type of track that you really have to concentrate on racing the track and not the people around you. I have some experience here and I hope that will help our chances come tomorrow afternoon. We'll just keep digging at it. I know these guys are building some great trucks and it's only a matter of time until we reach victory lane!"
RONNIE HORNADAY, #94 LUCAS OIL SILVERADO (12th, 30.749):
"I am very happy. I was hoping for a top-20. I got more than I wanted; I'm happy as heck. We were 20th in practice, we went out there a little loose in (turn) four. I moved the anti-dive up on the right front, leveled the track bar a little bit, and went out there and my dad and I had talked about not lifting in (turn) one, which I hadn't tried yet. I worked up enough courage to do it. I was lifting off about two car lengths before getting on the throttle. I barely lifted (in qualifying). I was quarter throttle instead of lifting all the way off, scared myself and qualified good." ON TOMORROW'S RACE: "My goal is to keep all my fenders on it. Not to overdrive it. Of course, you are going to scratch the right side. But if I keep all the fenders on it, and finish in the top 15, I'll be ecstatic."