Atlanta: Round three preview

* Big Milestone: Jack Sprague, Rick Crawford Start 250th Event Jack Sprague, Rick Crawford To Start 250th Series Race In Atlanta DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 12) -- Longevity and experience add up in impressive fashion for two NASCAR Craftsman...

* Big Milestone: Jack Sprague, Rick Crawford Start 250th Event

Jack Sprague, Rick Crawford To Start 250th Series Race In Atlanta

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 12) -- Longevity and experience add up in impressive fashion for two NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series drivers this week.

Jack Sprague (No. 60 Con-way Freight Toyota) and Rick Crawford (No. 14 Power Stroke Diesel Ford) will start their 250th series event Friday night at Atlanta Motor Speedway -- the American Commercial Lines 200.

Friends as well as competitors, they recognize the significance of reaching a dual milestone.

"This is a very special time right now in a lot of ways," Sprague said, "and to make a monumental start like No. 250 is pretty cool. And what are the odds of two drivers doing it at the same time?"

"It means I'm old," Crawford joked. "Not as old as (Ken) Schrader (No. 18 Fastenal Dodge), but I'm up there."

Merriment aside, Sprague and Crawford approach No. 250 with a mixture of awe and reflection. No other drivers have started as many events -- the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is in its 13th season -- and only two of their series peers have started more than 200 events. Those drivers are Terry Cook (No. 59 Harris Trucking Toyota) with 242 starts, and Dennis Setzer (No. 75 Spears Motorsports Chevrolet) with 219 starts.

"I didn't realize it was going to be my 250th career start in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series until someone said something to me the other day," Sprague said.

The only three-time series champion, Sprague drives for Wyler Racing. He leads the standings heading to Atlanta and possesses quite a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series history. Sprague, who competed in the first series event in 1995, remained fulltime through 2001.

He spent the 2002 and 2003 series in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and NASCAR Busch Series competition before returning to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series prior to the 2004 season. Sprague won his series titles in 1997, '98 and 2001. He also ranks second on the all-time victory list with 28.

"Everything has come a long way during that time and I have as well," Sprague said of his series career. "But I am very proud to be making this start."

Crawford, who drives for Circle Bar Racing, is similarly accomplished. He began his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series career in January 1997 and has five career victories. His most memorable came in the 2003 season-opener at Daytona International Speedway, where Crawford triumphed in a three-wide, side-by-side finish.

The 2002 series runner-up, Crawford has finished in the top 10 four times in 10 previous seasons. He's also enjoying rejuvenation. Crawford finished ninth last year after two seasons out of the top 10, and credits crew chief Kevin "Cowboy" Starland with the turn-around.

"There was a time a few years ago that I really didn't think I had 250 (starts)," Crawford said. "We weren't running good and it just wasn't fun anymore. We made some changes, Cowboy came on board, our trucks got better and it's fun to go to the race track."

Sprague concurs.

"I have been very fortunate during my career to win three championships and race with some great organizations," he said. "But I must say that I am having the most fun in my racing career right now racing for Wyler Racing and Con-way Freight."

-credit: nascar

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