Loudon race notes

LOUDEN, N. H. - Records, they say, are meant to be broken but some last longer than others. Among the latter, perhaps, is Jack Sprague's run of nine consecutive top-five finishes he established in early June in winning the Sears 200 at ...

LOUDEN, N. H. - Records, they say, are meant to be broken but some last longer than others. Among the latter, perhaps, is Jack Sprague's run of nine consecutive top-five finishes he established in early June in winning the Sears 200 at Evergreen Speedway. Greg Biffle, gunning for the series championship he narrowly lost to Sprague in 1999, matched the mark with a fourth-place performance at New Hampshire International Speedway. He can set his own standard this week at Nazareth Speedway where he's the defending winner of the Chevrolet Silverado 200. A victory by either Biffle or thatlook.com 200 winner Kurt Busch would give team owner Jack Roush an extension of a record currently held by the Livonia, Mich.-based tandem. Busch's win was the fifth straight for owner Roush, matching his 1999 run of four wins by Biffle and one by Mike Bliss. That streak also had been Ford¢s longest on the series. Sprague himself matched a more dubious mark, a single-season high of three DNFs and an unprecedented third accident-caused departure in a calendar year. He completed just two laps of Saturday's race after collecting the spinning truck of Dennis Setzer and placed 34th matching his series worst at Indianapolis Raceway Park last August. Those two laps were the fewest Sprague has completed in one race but Sprague, shaken but unhurt in the Turn 3 accident, was philosophical about what is becoming his most difficult season since joining Hendrick Motorsports in mid-1995. "I guess I've used up an awful lot of luck in the past four years so I have to take the good with the bad," said Sprague whose GMAC Financial Services Chevrolet started 24th, its worst of 2000. Brothers Marty and Andy Houston lost their paternal grandmother, Winnie Leigh Houston of Conover, N.C., earlier in the week. The mother of NASCAR Busch Series standout Tommy Houston passed away on July 3 at age 90 of natural causes. Busch is just the second series driver to win his first two races back- to-back. Rich Bickle was the first in 1997, at Portland and Evergreen Speedways. As far as rookie records go, Busch has closed in on two more. He's 32.196 miles short of Biffle's 345.776 miles led in 1998 and $19,207 shy of his teammate's all-time rookie season race winnings of $359,782. Both marks could fall at Nazareth. Five consecutive races at New Hampshire International Speedway have been decided by less than 0.6 second. Joe Ruttman was the fifth consecutive different Bud Pole winner, none of whom has won at the track, while Busch extended the list of winners to an equal number. No race winner, however, has been able to finish higher than seventh the following year. Setzer's 33rd-place finish continued the pattern Saturday. The first four-race combination weekend proved to be a winner with New England NASCAR fans who turned out 22,000 strong for Friday's Bud Pole qualifying and Featherlite Modified Series race. More than 50,000 saw Saturday's truck and Busch North Series event, according to figures released by NHIS. The latter number was nearly double previous race days when the three tours played without the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Three of the past five NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series events have drawn crowds in excess of 50,000 as the tour heads for its first one million- attendance year. Michael Dokken has taken over Randy Renfrow's discarded "super sub" moniker. A part-time performer in recent seasons, Dokken filled in for injured Rick Ware for the second week and landed the team's first top-10 finish, a solid eighth. Dokken's last top-10 came on May 29, 1997 at Nazareth. Rookie Scott Riggs finally broke his run of ninth-place best finishes by sailing through the final lap scrum to bring the Royal Crown Cola Dodge home in sixth. "Thank goodness it was better than ninth," said Riggs who had landed in that spot four times in eight previous starts.

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Rich Bickle , Greg Biffle , Andy Houston , Kurt Busch , Jack Sprague , Dennis Setzer , Scott Riggs , Joe Ruttman , Michael Dokken , Mike Bliss , Jack Roush
Teams Hendrick Motorsports