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NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series: Chevy Silverado HD 250

Stock Car Racing Topics:  Chevy Silverado HD 250

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series: Chevy Silverado HD 250

Johnny Benson
Travis Kvapil
Jack Sprague
February 16, 2007


THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome in the third-place finisher, Travis Kvapil. Travis, I think everybody would like to know your take on the pass there at the end.
TRAVIS KVAPIL: I've been a part of these crazy finishes here before. I kind of knew -- actually I knew off of turn two on the white flag lap I was in trouble. When I looked in the mirror, I felt like I got too big of a lead when they were side by side. I knew one lane or the other was going to be coming hard. I tried to split the air up between them both the best I could.
Thought I did a really good job of that all the way till turn four. I just didn't know which way I needed to go.
I don't know what happened. I don't know how it all happened. Sprague got one heck of a push, that's all I know. I had him at bay. It was like he hit another gear. By the time I realized it, he basically had position on me. I felt like at that point if I would have moved up on him, we'd have wrecked.
Kind of needed to give him just enough room. Unfortunately it cost me the win.
I'm really proud of everybody with Roush Fenway Racing. They gave me the best truck in testing. Had the best truck today. I feel like I let 'em down.
K & N, we just signed them yesterday for Daytona here. We're really happy to get them out front most of the night, though.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Travis.

Q. Did you know you were third when you crossed the line, or were you still trying to figure out exactly where you finished?
TRAVIS KVAPIL: I knew 60 had passed me. I still thought I had second. That's even a bigger bummer (laughter).
It was a great night. Like I said, we took an unsponsored truck coming into the weekend, got somebody on it yesterday, led a bunch of laps, had a great showing.
It's just a tough spot to be in. When Carl, my teammate, was out there, you know, we could -- I think we could hold them off. We were too fast enough trucks to kind of keep pushing each other along. He could run a little bit of interference for me.
I don't know how he got in trouble. He got laps down. It was me against the world it felt like really (smiling). Just didn't quite react fast enough, I guess, you know, to block the 60 truck.
Like I said, I thought -- coming through the trial, I thought the 30 was going to have the bigger suck and have the bigger run on me, so I kind of crowded him down. Then when I looked up, Jack must have got a great push. It was too late.

Q. Was there communication with anybody that you could work with anybody at that point, or you knew you were all by yourself?
TRAVIS KVAPIL: Even with whatever, five or six to go, my teammate Erik Darnell in the 99 was just a couple spots behind me. We had communicated through our spotters that we'd do everything we can to help each other out. But, you know, it was to the point where you just had to fend for yourself.
I think if we would have had one more up there, if we could have had Carl up there, you know, maybe another Ford, Crawford helped me a bunch throughout the night, that we could have held them off and it could have played out different.
You know, we had the best truck all night. I knew they were going to gang up at the end there on me. I don't know, I feel terrible. I really feel like, you know, when you bring the best truck through January down here, you have the best truck through Speedweeks, you lead the most laps and everything, come down to the last couple hundred yards and you lose, you really feel like you gave it up for your guys. I know they were anticipating a victory for three-quarters of that last lap, and I probably really let 'em down.
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by second-place finisher, Johnny Benson. Johnny, give us your take on that last pass there coming to the checkered.
JOHNNY BENSON: It was pretty exciting, I can tell you that. We were just going down the backstretch, everybody was kind of staying in line. Not really, but they were moving around a little bit.
Originally I went to go. I thought the 30 was going to go with me, he didn't. He was kind of wanting to go. They were all getting a little bunched up. I went down to the bottom, thought that was my best shot. Then we got lined up because Mike Skinner was pushing me pretty good. We got behind the 60, and I thought, "Well, we're going to see what's going to happen."
So the 5 was hitting me pretty hard. I was hitting the 60. And the goal was to get Toyota in Victory Lane. That's our job. So I pushed Jack as hard as I could. Mike was pushing me as hard as he could. We bumped and banged quite a bit down the frontstretch.
Once I saw Jack was going to be in the lead, I was trying for second or the win. I knew if I stayed behind Jack I wasn't going to get second, so I cut across the track. Went down on the apron to try to get by the 6.
It was close. We were able to make that happen. Got close to the front. I didn't think we'd have a shot at winning it, but my goal was to try to get second.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Johnny.

Q. Always a great spectacle here with the trucks. What is the reason at this track in particular?
JOHNNY BENSON: Well, I think NASCAR has done a tremendous job with the rules that we have, with the Truck Series, for sure. And because we're not as aerodynamic as the cars, your pull-up rate is just unbelievable. There's half the time, if you were running the lead, you were on the floor the whole time. If you were running second, you were on the floor the whole time. If you were running fifth, half the time you're riding the brakes off the gas, getting back on the gas again, things of this nature. That's what the outside would get some runs because you'd have to let off just because of that draft. Guys would make a run on the outside. Sometimes it would work, sometimes it wouldn't. It just depends who was in the lead.
You know, it's got a lot to do with the aerodynamics of not being real aerodynamic, knocking a big hole in the air. Very similar to what the Busch cars are doing with the blades on the roof, the spoilers. I've ran Cup when they had the blades on the roof and spoilers. It's just like that. There is no different type of driving than what that is. That's pretty much what you got.
It's a lot of fun, but at times it gets pretty hairy. Guys are beating, banging, knocking everybody around. You got to be careful what you do there.

Q. This is Toyota's first victory at Daytona. I know they won the championship last year. Does that mean anything? How significant is that?
JOHNNY BENSON: I mean, I think it's great. Toyota has won the championship in the Truck Series. I think it's pretty cool. Our team won five of them last year. That was pretty neat for us to get Toyota in Victory Lane. You know, at the end of the day, that's our job, is to get in the front. You know at Daytona you've got to help people. Three of us got lined up, myself, the 60 and Mike Skinner in the 5. We just pushed him by.
You have to make a choice at what point in time you're going to help. The 60 is basically a teammate. He's in the Toyota family. The 99 was trying to help the 6. Our job is to help our guys. So that's what we did today.

Q. Did it help turn around a tough week, given what's happened in the Cup Series, Toyota, some of the problems?
JOHNNY BENSON: Well, our race went pretty good. You'd have to ask those guys about that (smiling).
As far as this week, you know, Friday night, Craftsman Truck race was pretty good for us and it was a good deal for Toyota.

Q. A lot of wins last year. You just missed the championship. What kind of start is this for you to really get started off on the right foot, make a run at that title that you just missed last year?
JOHNNY BENSON: Well, I mean, it's definitely a good boost to come out of here with some good points. The goal is to get through this race and get some good points. If you finish in the top 10, that's pretty much a good night based off of a lot of things that you could see happen here.
The guys that we were running with, the 60 I think is going to be a threat for the championship, we know the 6 is, hopefully the 23 is going to be part of that, the 5 will. I mean, the 30, all the guys that are going to be in contention for it are right there. Those points are important. It's going to keep it tight throughout the deal.
You know, you didn't want to have a bad day here when you know the guys that you're racing with for a championship have a good day. I mean, I think it ended up good as far as a points night for us, and it's bad they even talk about it at the first race of the year, but every race counts. I think the guys you see at the front there are guys that are going to be contenders for the championship, so it was a very important night for us.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Johnny.
JOHNNY BENSON: Thanks, guys. Appreciate it.
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by tonight's winner, Jack Sprague.
Jack, tell us about that last lap for the win.
JACK SPRAGUE: I have no idea. That whole race was pretty wild to me (smiling).
Tony and the guys gave me such a great truck. Seemed like I'd get in the lead, get passed quickly. I just tried not to be in that position.
I stayed around the top five all night, get shuffled back, get back there. A couple times I got really loose in three and four, both times in three and four and about wrecked.
I knew when it come down to there, Travis was leading, it was me, Johnny and Todd. We all talked. We were going to help each other. I helped them guys throughout the night and anybody actually that was in a Toyota in front of me I helped, and I helped Todd when he was leading. Then I seen him coming on the outside, and I had to go out there and leave Todd because otherwise we were both going to get left in the dirt.
Johnny said, when you're ready. I knew the only place I could make a move, make it stick, was coming off four, coming for the checkered flag. We went through three. I seen Johnny up high. We got a run on four. He hit me so hard coming off four, my teeth fell out (smiling). Shot me right by him. As a result, he was able to shoot by Travis barely. That was pretty cool Johnny finished second because he certainly -- if it weren't for him hitting me like he did, I would have never won this race.
Man, we all worked together. I've proud of TRD, Toyota, all the drivers that drive these trucks. We all worked really well together tonight. That's the way it's supposed to be. It was a combined effort from all the Toyota drivers to win this thing, but I certainly do thank Tony Furr and Jeff and David Wyler and their families, and Con-Way and Bicycle and Arctic Cat and D & D and Huntington Bank and just all our sponsors. I'm sure I'm forgetting some of them. But just a tremendous effort this winter to build a truck like that, to sit on the pole and win the race. It's an awesome motor to run like it did all night long. Pit stops were good. I just can't believe I won Daytona (smiling).
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Jack.

Q. Is this one even bigger than winning at Phoenix, in '96, your first one?
JACK SPRAGUE: I was thinking about that actually on the way over here, believe it or not. That was a huge win for me. To even be driving for Hendrick Motorsports, to win a race in a top tier league of racing, that was a huge win for me. I knew I would eventually win truck races. I'm not really -- I'm not being smart about that. I just knew that I'd won enough other races that eventually I'd be in a position, especially driving for Rick Hendrick, to win races.
So that was not a shock, it was just -- it was really exciting to win that day. We went out and won three in a row at Phoenix actually. That was really cool.
But to win Daytona is an absolute shock. I never would pick that I would win on a superspeedway. Of course, I never would have picked that I would win at Martinsville and I did that last fall. I don't know what's going on. Won at Martinsville, won at Daytona. That just totally blows my mind because I'm not the greatest drafter in the world.
Tonight I took my time. Seemed to me like maybe I'm realizing that patience is huge because the last few times I've done this restrictor plate stuff or Speedway stuff, I've been patient, it's worked out well. Just never dreamed I would win at Daytona.

Q. You knew you got a good push coming around turn four. Did you think you were going to get out in front before the checkered flag?
JACK SPRAGUE: Dude, I didn't know if I was going to wreck before the checkered flag. I've done that enough, too. He hit me, he got me good, pushed me hard. Like I said, I knew I was going by Travis, but then I saw red out my window. I'm like, "Holy smoke, where did he come from?"
You know, as soon as I got the push, I could see where Travis was, where I was, my closure rate on Travis. I could see the line. I knew I was going to be by Travis, I just didn't know if I was going to be by Johnny. Like I said, I owe Johnny. Johnny won this race for me. But he got a second place out of the deal, so he helped himself, too. I would have done the same thing for him, as I did in Talladega until we had trouble there.
Just like I said, I'm really, really proud of all the way the Toyota drivers helped and worked together tonight. That's huge.

Q. Winning at Daytona is always special. Is this a bigger milestone for you personally or for Toyota, their first victory at Daytona?
JACK SPRAGUE: I'm sure it's huge for them as well as me. Selfishly, I think it's really cool (laughter). I mean, it will always be in the record book that I won the first Toyota -- I was the first one to drive a Toyota and win at Daytona. Yeah, I'm sure it's huge for everybody involved. I knew Toyota would win Daytona. I just never thought Jack Sprague would. Like I said, this is really cool.

Q. At what point did you know you had won?
JACK SPRAGUE: When I crossed the line and looked to the left and nobody was out in front of me. I could see trucks, but I knew when I was looking at the nose of their trucks that certainly I was ahead of 'em, but I didn't know till the line.

Q. The Truck Series is kind of viewed at this feeder series, but the sheet reads Sprague, Benson, Skinner, Bodine. Does the young guy really have a chance against the veterans in the Truck Series?
JACK SPRAGUE: Well, it's no different than racing anything else. You know, this is a feeder series. Your late models at your local tracks are a feeder series, your Busch Grand National is a feeder series. I mean there is nobody questioning the fact that Nextel Cup is the top tier racing in the world. Okay, but the Truck Series has a lot of champions and a lot of veterans that enjoy doing this and don't want the rigorous schedule of 38, 40 weekends a year.
I keep bringing this kid's name up because I think the world of him, I have a lot of respect for him even tonight, again he proved to me that he is the real deal, Erik Darnell. I think that cat's got it going on. I think he is going to be the next superstar. I think he uses his head way beyond his years. I think he has a lot of talent and he proved it again tonight. He didn't do anything stupid. He run behind me for a long time, never touched me, as he did last year.
So there is chances for young guys to win in this series, and he will win. But it's not every young guy's going to do it.

Q. Do your parents still live in Port Orange, and was this kind of a home win for you?
JACK SPRAGUE: No, not a home. I mean, my mother and stepfather live in Kentucky. My father lives in Kentucky. Don't ask me why, I don't know, they all live in Kentucky. My dad was here tonight. Nobody lives in Port Orange anymore. They're actually thinking of moving back to Jacksonville, my mom and my stepfather. It's not really a home win for me. I have no ties here. But this is still the most awesome win that I've ever been able to accomplish.

Q. The Toyotas were really strong tonight. There seemed to be quite a pack up there all night. Why do you suppose Toyota hasn't won here before? It seems like you proved tonight you certainly had the goods.
JACK SPRAGUE: We had the goods last year. We almost won this race last year. We went into turn three with like four or five to go. We went for the lead against Mark Martin and I got terribly loose and about wrecked and finished fifth. So this is only the fourth year, I think, that Toyota has been around. So it's not really all that bad considering the odds.
The Toyotas were near the front all night because we all worked together so well. Again, I'm going to go back to that. When the 6, the 50, the 99 and Crawford, the 14, were all up there, we couldn't get by them. When them guys were working together, nose to tail, three or four of them at a time, we were having a hard time dealing with them ourselves.
I think the biggest deal is the Toyota guys just worked themselves to stay by each other better -- I think they did a better job at that all night than the Ford drivers because the Ford trucks were awesome, too. Travis' truck was awesome. There's no doubt he had the best truck here. He didn't win the race because of the Toyota drivers working together.
And like I said earlier in the evening, there were three or four Fords lined up there, we were having a tough time dealing with them. It's just I think the drivers did a better job of working together.

Q. How much did a cooler track affect the ability to pass tonight?
JACK SPRAGUE: You know, I don't think it made any difference. You know, everybody's been complaining about the tires all week, not so much in the Truck Series I don't think. I thought the trucks handled it extremely well, as well as they did last year.
It wasn't quite this cool last year. It didn't even -- it wasn't even slippery on restarts. The only thing I did notice is coming in the pits, I would have a very difficult time not locking the front tires up, sliding through the box because it was so cold that you just couldn't get any grip on pit road. That's the only thing that I noticed at all.

Q. Talk about the outside line. What was it about going high repeatedly in a race like this?
JACK SPRAGUE: It wasn't working real well tonight. I don't understand that because last year the high line was working. Once in a while some guys would make it work, but for the most part, if you stayed down on the bottom, you were going to come out better ahead. I was just extremely loose on the bottom. If there was somebody right behind me and somebody outside of me, that's when I about wrecked.
The outside wasn't working real good. But at the end, that was the only shot. I mean, Travis wasn't going to give the bottom up. The only shot we had was there were three or four Toyotas back there, and he had no help, he had nobody going to help him whatsoever that could get there quick enough. The outside did work against one truck.
THE MODERATOR: Jack, congratulations. Thank you.
JACK SPRAGUE: Thank you.

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