SPRAGUE CHARGES HARD TO FIFTH PLACE FINISH IN SEASON FINALE "Driver Jumps Two Spots In Final Race To Finish Fifth In Points" HOMESTEAD, FLORIDA (November 20, 2006) - Jack Sprague and the No. 60 Con-way Freight Toyota team had one goal - to ...
SPRAGUE CHARGES HARD TO FIFTH PLACE FINISH IN SEASON FINALE
"Driver Jumps Two Spots In Final Race To Finish Fifth In Points"
HOMESTEAD, FLORIDA (November 20, 2006) - Jack Sprague and the No. 60 Con-way Freight Toyota team had one goal - to finish off the 2006 season at Homestead-Miami Speedway on a high note. The Wyler Racing team wanted to score a solid enough finish to secure a spot in the top five of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship points standings.
When the checkered flag fell on the Ford 200 and the 2006 season on Friday night, two words came to mind -- Mission Accomplished. With a fifth-place finish in the final race of the season, Sprague and the No. 60 Con-way Freight Toyota moved to the fifth spot in the championship points standings.
"I am so proud of what this team accomplished this season," said three-time Series champion Sprague. "This was our first full year together as a team. At times, we really struggled, but we were able to overcome that adversity and get back out there and finish on a strong note.
"We got two poles and two wins this season, and we are all geared up for a run at my fourth championship and Wyler Racing's first in 2007."
The weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway started off on a high-note for Sprague and the team as "Monkey" -- the team's mascot and good luck charm that went missing following the Texas race -- was returned.
"We're not sure who had "Monkey" because no one wants to take responsibility for the ape-napping, but we are happy to have him back," Sprague said. "He's part of this team, and we're sure he'll bring us the good luck we need this weekend in Miami."
With "Monkey" back on the pit box, Sprague started the final race of the season in 15th place, but Sprague had no plans of staying in the middle of the pack of trucks. He immediately started making his move on the track's bottom groove.
When the first caution waved at Lap five, Sprague had already moved up four spots to 11th place. Under the caution, Sprague told his crew that he would like to stay on the bottom of the track.
By Lap 20, Sprague had moved into the top 10. However, Sprague was beginning to experience handling issues with his Con-way Freight Toyota. At Lap 26, he told his crew that the truck was tight in the middle and loose off.
With the truck getting tighter in the center and loose coming off the corners, Sprague decided to try a different line. Sprague moved to the high line, which was faster and he began turning some of the quickest times on the track.
The caution waved at Lap 43 with Sprague in eighth place. Sprague pitted under the caution for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. A good stop helped Sprague to pick up two spots in the pits and return to the track in sixth place for the restart at Lap 46.
By Lap 55, Sprague told his crew that he needed to be tightened up.
A caution at Lap 63 gave Sprague's crew just the break they needed to help his ill-handling race truck. Sprague brought the truck to the crew's attention for four tires and fuel. The crew also added a round of bite to the left side.
Unfortunately, a tire got away from the pit crew on the stop, which cost Sprague several positions. He returned to the track in 22nd place.
Now mired in traffic, Sprague would have his work cut out for him if he wanted to have a good finish. Sprague went to work as soon as the green flag waved at Lap 67.
In just three laps, Sprague had gained four spots and had moved into 18th place. He continued his march through traffic, passing one truck after another. By Lap 80, Sprague had moved into 13th place.
Sprague was again turning the fastest laps on the race track, and he told his crew that the truck was pretty good.
At Lap 90, Sprague was back in the top 10. When the caution waved at Lap 94, Sprague came down pit road for four tires and fuel. He returned to the track in 10th place.
With 34 laps to go in the race, Sprague still wanted to make up ground on the track and in the points. As the laps wound down, Sprague maneuvered his truck to find the best groove on the track and pick up spots.
Sprague crossed the line in fifth-place when the checkered flag waved. It was Sprague's 10th top-five and 14th top-10 finish of the 2006 season.
"We worked on this truck every chance we got in tonight's race, and what the guys did in the pits seemed to really help," Sprague said. "It was great to finish fifth here today. This is just how we needed to end the season.
"I think this will give us some momentum as we start looking ahead to the 2007 season and a championship run. Con-way Freight is coming back next year, and we're hoping to celebrate more wins and a championship with them."
-credit: wyler racing