FONTANA, Calif. - GMAC will enjoy its first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Championship, courtesy of #24 Team GMAC driver Jack Sprague.
Sprague started Saturday's NAPA 200 at California Speedway 21 points behind Greg Biffle in the chase for first place. Sprague ended the day clutching his second NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Championship trophy after taking the checkered flag following Saturday's 100-lap event. Sprague and the #24 GMAC Financial Services Chevrolet Silverado overpowered the three-truck Dodge contingent of Joe Ruttman, Stacy Compton and Bobby Hamilton in a frantic two-lap dash to the finish. And when Biffle later crossed the line in seventh place, Sprague enjoyed an eight-point margin of victory in the final championship standings.
"I wasn't sure with three laps to go," said Sprague, who enjoyed much support from his Chevrolet brethren (including perennial nemesis Ron Hornaday) on Saturday. "I had to get by Ron Hornaday. I came off turn two with a head of steam. I knew that was my shot. Hornaday helped me all day long. He is a class act."
Sprague, who won his first championship in 1997, persevered through an up-and-down season this year. He overcame a record three DNF's en route to the 1999 NCTS Championship. According to the newly crowned two-time champion, the support of his GMAC teammates represented the difference between taking another title and again walking away as a close second. Last year, Sprague won the season's final race in Las Vegas , but came up three points shy of Hornaday in his quest for a second title. Saturday, the 35-year-old Spring Lake, Mich. native's mission was finally accomplished.
"I just can't say enough about the guys on this team," Sprague said. "This title is for Rick and John and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports. Along with GMAC, it was their support that helped us get through some tough times this season. You can't say enough about Dennis Connor and this Team GMAC crew. In my mind, they represent the best in this business and I'm just real fortunate to have them on my side. As a group, we just kept digging and refused to give up. And that proved to be the difference."