Friday, April 26, 1996 | 11:59 a.m.
After finishing 17th at his NASCAR Craftsman Truck superspeedway debut at Phoenix last weekend, Wayne Jacks has some advice for the drivers who will contest the series season finale at the new 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway in November:
May the downforce be with you.
"The truck is real light. It doesn't have the downforce the car does," said Jacks, a NASCAR Winston West regular and a part-timer on the Craftsman Truck circuit, about the rigors of steering a truck around the one-mile Phoenix oval.
Most Craftsman races are held on half-mile "bullrings," where the trucks aren't hindered by their high profiles. The Las Vegas tri-oval will be the biggest track at which the trucks compete.
"You don't have as good as downforce, so you have to go slower," Jacks cautioned. "Or you'll crash."
Jacks went slower than every other truck during qualifying, but he didn't crash during the race. That was no easy feat, given eight of the 36 starters tested the Phoenix concrete.
After narrowly avoiding two major wrecks, Jacks began carving through the field. He ran as high as 12th well beyond the midway point, just one lap off the pace, until handling woes dropped him in the order.
He was credited with 177 laps, nine fewer than race winner Jack Sprague.
"For the first time out on a superspeedway, it wasn't bad," said Jacks, who expects to run up front at this weekend's Winston West stop at Mesa Marin Speedway in Bakersfield, Calif.
"The biggest thing is we came home in once piece."
The second-biggest development was that his one-off sponsor for Phoenix -- Soff-Cut concrete -- has indicated it may back Jacks in future West Coast truck races.
"But we're always looking for more," said Jacks, whose racing budget is a pittance compared to the $2- and $3-million efforts of top Craftsman Truck teams.
While finishing was the primary objective at Phoenix, finishing first is Jacks' goal in Saturday's Winston West race. He finished a competitive third in the last WW outing at Altamont, Calif., six weeks ago, and believes his first career victory may be imminent.
"We were fast down there last time until we had three flat tires," Jacks said.
* INDYCAR BOSSES DRIVE: IndyCar owners Rick Galles and John Della Penna saw racing life from the other side of the pit wall at last weekend's SCORE Primm 300 at Stateline, co-driving Galles' Chevrolet ProTruck to a third place class finish. "This was the toughest challenge in racing that I have been involved in as far as testing the physical and mechanical capabilities all at once," said Della Penna, the rookie car owner who is backing rookie driver Richie Hearn in selected IRL and IndyCar events this season. Della Penna was pinch-hitting for Jamie Galles, Rick's son and usual co-driver, who was competing in the Trans-Am race in Phoenix. Las Vegan Chuck Johnson won the ProTruck class. ... Two other local competitors claimed class wins at Stateline: Steve Olliges in Stock Full and Mark Bunderson in Class 9. Ron Brant of Torrance, Calif., was the overall pro and sportsman champion, overtaking Bob Gordon (father of the IndyCar star) and Butch Arciero (son of IndyCar owner Frank Arciero) in the final 15 miles.
* LAS VEGAS SPEEDWAY PARK: NASCAR Southwest Tour regular and native Las Vegan Chris Trickle will make his first LVSP appearance of the season during Saturday's NASCAR Winston Racing Series Green Valley Hand Car Wash Classic. Racing begins at 7 p.m. Trickle finished 12th at last weekend's NASCAR Southwest Tour stop at Stockton (Calif.) 99 Speedway, improving from 21st starting position. He stands seventh in SWT points.
* WEEKEND SLATE: Winston Cup: Winston Select 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway (10:30 a.m. Sunday, ESPN). Rusty Wallace's victory at Martinsville last week was his sixth overall at the Virginia track. Indycar: Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix at Nazareth (Pa.) Speedway (1 p.m. Sunday, ABC). Jimmy Vasser, with wins in three of the first four races of 1996, is the first driver to accomplish that feat since Mario Andretti in 1985. Formula One: European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring, Germany (5:50 a.m. Sunday, ESPN). Michael Schumacher swept the two races held on German soil last season, taking the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim and the European GP at the Nurburgring.