LAS VEGAS - Over the last two years, ...
LAS VEGAS - Over the last two years, #24 Team GMAC driver Jack Sprague has experienced the full gamut of emotions at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS). Sprague, who clinched the 1997 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Championship in the season finale at LVMS, won last year's Orleans 250 from the pole but came up just shy in his quest to become the first repeat champion in circuit history. Items of note heading into Friday's Orleans 250 (ESPN: 8:30 p.m. EDT) include: * Sprague carried the #24 GMAC Financial Services Chevrolet to Victory Lane at Las Vegas last year, winning the Orleans 250 from the pole position by .300 seconds over Ron Hornaday.
* Not only did Sprague capture the Bud Pole and checkered flag in '98, but the 35-year-old Spring Lake, Mich. native did so in record-breaking fashion. He owns both the qualifying (161.749 mph - 33.385 seconds) and race (130.801 mph - 1 hr. 56 min. 7 sec.) records based on his performance at LVMS a year ago.
* Considering Sprague's past performances at the 1.5-mile paved superspeedway in the desert, the driver of the #24 GMAC Financial Services Chevrolet has to be deemed the pre-race favorite to win on Friday. Based on finishes of first, second and first over the past three years, Sprague's average finish at LVMS is an eye-popping 1.3.
* During those three years of competition, Sprague has led more laps (157) than any other NCTS competitor at Las Vegas.
* The Orleans 250 is the 22nd of 25 events on the 1999 schedule. Sprague, currently second in the NCTS championship standings, trails series leader Greg Biffle by 125 points (3,232-3,107) with just four races remaining.
Sprague's thoughts heading into Friday night's race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway:
"Most people I talk to don't go to Las Vegas and actually win," Sprague quipped. "Whether you're talking about slot machines, cards or whatever, it's tough to come out ahead in Vegas. Most folks are happy just to break even. That's why, when I look at what we've accomplished on the track in three years out there, it makes me feel real good. We haven't just come out ahead, we've come out on top in the race two-of-three years and finished second in the other. That's amazing to me."
Added Sprague, "I feel like we did everything in our power to seal the deal here last year (become the first repeat champion in series' history), but we came up one position (three points) short. As painful as that was, it made me appreciate what we accomplished by winning it all in Las Vegas back in 1997. I've had a chance to experience the highest of the highs, and I guess, the lowest of the lows when it comes to overall competition at this racetrack. Hopefully, Team GMAC will make another positive memory come Friday."