Sprague Collects Championship, $400,000 At Nascar Craftsman Awards Celebration

MIAMI - Jack Sprague capped his third NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship season Thursday by cashing the largest check -- $401,503 - since becoming a charter member of the series in 1995.

Sprague's post-championship winnings, distributed at the series' annual champion's banquet at the Hotel Inter-Continental, boosted his 2001 money total to $967,492.

His previous highest season winnings, $880,835, came during Sprague's 1997 title season. Sprague won his other series championship in 1999.

Greg Biffle remains the only $1 million season winner in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series' seven seasons. The current NASCAR Busch Series Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year won $1,002,510 last season.

Sprague, the only driver to have competed in all 170 series races, boosted his career winnings to $4,691,663, extending the all-time money record.

"A lot of great things have happened to me over the past seven years and I've got a lot of records in this series," said Sprague, who hasn't announced his plans for the 2002 season. "We've had a great career and I've had a lot of fun racing with Hendrick Motorsports."

Team owner Rick Hendrick joined in Sprague's celebration, as did the NetZero Platinum Chevrolet team's crew chief Dennis Connor.

The team's winnings included $15,000 Bud Pole Award, $12,500 Gatorade Front Runner Award, $10,000 Goodyear Tire Award, $10,000 Tosco 76 Award, Hendrick's $10,000 Chevrolet Award and $10,000 Clevite Engine Builder-of-the-Year Award to Ron Reavis.

Thursday's banquet also honored 2001 series Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year Travis Kvapil, who won a close battle with Ricky Hendrick in becoming just the second freshman competitor to finish among the top five in overall points. Kvapil, winner of October's event at Texas Motor Speedway, finished fourth on the championship.

Joe Ruttman, 57, was named NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Most Popular Driver by vote of his fellow competitors. Ruttman, who finished third in points, won races at Daytona International Speedway and Pikes Peak International Raceway. He's the seventh different competitor in as many seasons to receive the award.

Twenty-nine different drivers won $100,000 or more during the 2001 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season.

Final top 20 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series money winners
1. Jack Sprague $497,492
2. Ted Musgrave $726,415
3. Scott Riggs $677,888
4. Joe Ruttman $597,129
5. Travis Kvapil $560,661
6. Ricky Hendrick $452,031
7. Terry Cook $427,773
8. Rick Crawford $423,761
9. Dennis Setzer $416,492
10. Lance Norick $303,697
11. Coy Gibbs $290,922
12. Matt Crafton $282,915
13. Billy Bigley $278,052
14. Carlos Contreras $265,925
15. Bobby Dotter $257,891
16. Willy T. Ribbs $235,451
17. Jon Wood $196,525
18. Randy Tolsma $187,250
19. Lance Hooper $178,567
20. Jimmy Hensley $178,006.