Memphis Race Report and Notes

'BIFFLE'S SLIP ON FINAL LAP HANDS QUAKER STATE 200 TO JACK SPRAGUE AT MEMPHIS MOTORSPORTS PARK BY OWEN KEARNS JR. MILLINGTON, Tenn. - Jack Sprague figured he stole Saturday's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Quaker State 200 by AutoZone...

'BIFFLE'S SLIP ON FINAL LAP HANDS QUAKER STATE 200 TO JACK SPRAGUE AT MEMPHIS MOTORSPORTS PARK

BY OWEN KEARNS JR.

MILLINGTON, Tenn. - Jack Sprague figured he stole Saturday's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Quaker State 200 by AutoZone at Memphis Motorsports Park. Greg Biffle didn't argue the point. Sprague, his own mind believing he'd finish no better than second, watched in disbelief as Biffle's Grainger Ford slid up the track as the pair entered the first turn of the 200th and final lap around the 0.75- mile oval. Sprague didn't waste any time accepting the gift, taking the lead off Turn 2 and carried the advantage back to the checkered flag. He beat Biffle, the defending winner of the $477,000 race, by 0.193 second. The victory was the second in six days for Sprague who won last Sunday's series event at Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis. He averaged a track record 85.565 mph, winning $44,210. "You know, Greg had that race won," said Sprague, a winner for the 18th time on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. "Then we went into the first corner and he lost control of it. I can't believe it." Biffle, whose most recent victory came last September, had taken the lead from Andy Houston on the 191st lap and was pulling away from Sprague's GMAC Chevrolet Silverado. Then Biffle hit a slick spot - possibly oil dropped by Joe Ruttman's battered DANA Corp. Dodge - and victory went slip-sliding away. "I'm not trying to be boastful or anything but I was way faster than I was showing there in the last few laps," said a frustrated Biffle. "I was trying to save the equipment and only used what we needed to stay out in front. I could have probably been out 15 truck lengths on him at that time. "I hate to be disappointed with a second but I really am." Sprague's victory pushed him to within 40 points of standings leader Mike Wallace who finished in fourth place after a final-lap tangle with Houston. Sprague led just twice for five laps. There were nine lead changes among six drivers - three of those exchanges coming in the race's wild, final 20 laps. Dennis Setzer brought his Mopar Performance Dodge Ram from the 11th starting position to finish third. Wallace inherited the fourth spot after his truck ran into the rear of Houston's Chevy, sending it into the Turn 3 wall on the final lap. Houston climbed out of his wrecked truck uninjured but angry with Wallace who contended that he'd gotten the nose of his Team ASE Racing Ford under Houston's CAT Rental Store Chevrolet which he said then drove down on him. Steve Grissom, whose team elected to continue despite Friday's practice accident at New Hampshire that claimed the life of Adam Petty, came from 21st in the Petty Enterprises Dodge to finish fifth. Rick Crawford, Randy Tolsma, Bryan Reffner, rookie Kenny Martin and Jimmy Hensley completed the top-10 finishers. Kurt Busch led laps 106 through 179 and had his first victory in sight until caution for fluid in Turn 4 compressed the field and allowed his pursuers to pit for tires. Busch, a rookie, also pitted but took fuel only to preserve track position. He was no match for his rivals when racing resumed, falling to 13th at the finish. Ironically, Busch overcame an early spin after being tagged from behind by Ruttman and a later, multi-truck accident. Bud Pole starter Bobby Hamilton was among 10 drivers failing to finish the race. Hamilton, who led 39 laps, dropped out after 130 laps when his Dodge developed a vibration. Hamilton and Biffle had the trucks to beat in the early going, sharing the lead for the first 45 laps while pulling away from the pack. Hamilton, using a patched together crew from the Morgan-McClure Racing shops he'd flown in race morning, lost his on track superiority on pit road. Still, the Martinsville winner moved from 15th to fifth after a lap 102 pit stop and likely could have gone farther. He slowed in the first turn on lap 131 and took his DANA Corp. Dodge straight to the garage. "We had a good truck but I would rather park the truck than take a chance of destroying it," said Hamilton, whose next series appearance will be in July at New Hampshire International Speedway. Reffner, who, until Saturday, hadn't led a series race since last August, tried a one pit stop strategy that almost worked. Wayne Edwards spun on lap 101 to bring out the caution, enabling Reffner to take the Johns Manville Chevrolet down pit road. He then ran methodically at the tail of the top-10 through for the next 71 circuits. Fluid in Turn 4, however, bunched the field on lap 178 and Reffner became just one of 11 lead lap trucks to make a final caution stop. Houston and David Starr remained on the surface in positions one and two while Busch made the gas and go that ultimately sealed his fate. Just two laps into the restart, Rob Morgan spun off Turn 4 and stalled on lap 185 producing yellow for the final time. On lap 191, Biffle quickly passed his Houston who also fell to Sprague and Setzer, who was too far behind to challenge despite having an equal or perhaps superior truck. "The lapped traffic was a challenge this afternoon with guys thinking that they were on the lead lap and trying to race against the leaders," complained Setzer who posted a top-three finish for the second time in the past three races to move from eighth to sixth in series points. Next event is Sunday's Grainger.com 200 at Pikes Peak International Raceway.

The results: Bud Pole Award - Bobby Hamilton, Dodge, 22.873 seconds, 118.043 mph Failed to qualify - Stan Boyd, Chevrolet; R.D. Smith, Dodge; Patrick Lawler, Chevrolet; Tom Powers, Dodge; Ricky Sanders, Ford; Tom Boston, Chevrolet; Phil Bonifield, Chevrolet; Paul Carman, Ford; Jay Stewart, Chevrolet Quaker State 200 by AutoZone (200 laps) -- 1. (5)Jack Sprague, Chevrolet, 200, 85.565 mph, $44,210; 2. (2)Greg Biffle, Ford, 200, $31,250; 3. (11)Dennis Setzer, Dodge, 200, $23,780; 4. (9)Mike Wallace, Ford, 200, $15,550; 5. (21)Steve Grissom, Dodge, 200, $12,900; 6. (8)Rick Crawford, Ford, 200, $11,780; 7. (10)Randy Tolsma, Dodge, 200, $10,625; 8. (3)Bryan Reffner, Chevrolet, 200, $10,400; 9. (24)Kenny Martin, Ford, 200, $10,050; 10. (17)Jimmy Hensley, Chevrolet, 200, $11,350; 11. (14)David Starr, Chevrolet, 200, $8,850; 12. (12)Scott Riggs, Dodge, 200, $8,615; 13. (13)Kurt Busch, Ford, 200, $12,065; 14. (23)B.A. Wilson, Chevrolet, 200, $8,515; 15. (18)Andy Houston, Chevrolet, 199, accident, $9,765; 16. (33)Lance Hooper, Ford, 198, $8,415; 17. (7)Marty Houston, Chevrolet, 198, $9,315; 18. (29)Carlos Contreras, Dodge, 198, $9,215; 19. (16)Joe Ruttman, Dodge, 197, $9,190; 20. (19)Jamie McMurray, Ford, 197, $8,415; 21. (26)Rick Ware, Chevrolet, 196, $8,140; 22. (6)Rob Morgan, Ford, 195, $9,115; 23. (36)Wayne Edwards, Chevrolet, 184, $8,090; 24. (30)John Young, Ford, 180, $8,065; 25. (25)Randy MacDonald, Chevrolet, 176, $9,015; 26. (35)Andy Genzman, Ford, 159, $7,990; 27. (28)Ron Barfield, Ford, 151, transmission, $8,965; 28. (31)J.D. Gibbs, Chevrolet, 141, handling, $7,940; 29. (1)Bobby Hamilton, Dodge, 130, vibration, $9,015; 30. (20)Randy Renfrow, Dodge, 103, axle, $8,890; 31. (4)Terry Cook, Chevrolet, 87, engine, $8,865; 32. (22)Bobby Gill, Ford, 76, accident, $7,840; 33. (34)Ryan McGlynn, Chevrolet, 74, engine, $7,815; 34. (15)Rick Carelli, Ford, 45, engine, $8,790; 35. (27)Brian Sockwell, Chevrolet, 22, accident, $7,765; 36. (32)Lance Norick, Chevrolet, 2, handling, $8,740 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (unofficial) - 1. Mike Wallace 1,314; 2. Jack Sprague 1,274; 3. Andy Houston 1,183; 4. Steve Grissom 1,182; 5. Greg Biffle 1,177; 6. Dennis Setzer 1,126; 7. Kurt Busch 1,106; 8. Joe Ruttman 1,094; 9. Jimmy Hensley 1,035; 10. Rick Crawford 1,035.

NASCAR CRAFTSMAN TRUCK SERIES QUAKER STATE 200 BY AUTOZONE NOTES AND QUOTES

MILLINGTON, Tenn. - Jack Sprague is the second driver in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series history to score back-to-back victories four times, joining Mike Skinner atop the category. Sprague, following Saturday's triumph in the Quaker State 200 by AutoZone, is the only competitor to have turned the trick in three different seasons - 1996, 1999 and 2000. The last driver to win three races in succession was Ron Hornaday in 1997. Sprague's last consecutive victories came almost a year ago, at I-70 Speedway near Kansas City and Bristol Motor Speedway. Ironically, the Hendrick Motorsports driver won't get a chance to defend either of those wins since neither venue appears on the 2000 schedule.

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One thing Sprague can do at the tour's next event, Sunday's Grainger.com 200 at Pikes Peak International Raceway, is match Hornaday's one-season record of eight consecutive top-five finishes. Sprague hasn't finished worse than third since his race-ending accident in the season opener at Daytona International Speedway. Sprague finished second to Mike Wallace in a photo finish at PPIR in 1999.

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Third-place finisher Dennis Setzer became the 13th different series driver to win $900,000 in a career. It is projected Setzer will hit the $1 million mark on July 1 at The Milwaukee Mile. The tour's next stop, in Colorado Springs, Colo., will see this year's race starters reach a combined $20 million in NCTS career winnings.

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Greg Biffle's second-place finish was his best since Oct. 15, 1999 when he was runner-up to Jay Sauter at Texas Motor Speedway. Biffle went 0-for-3 in race victory defenses at Portland, St. Louis and Memphis. Roush Racing partner Kurt Busch led the most laps - 74 - of the Quaker State 200 by AutoZone, the first rookie to do so since Sept. 26, 1998 when Biffle led 80 serials at Martinsville Speedway. The pair has led exactly 50 percent of the laps at Memphis - 300 of 600. Biffle, however, is the only competitor to lead each of the three series races at the .750-mile facility.

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Steve Grissom and the Petty Enterprises Dodge teams competed with heavy hearts following the death Friday of Adam Petty in a practice accident at New Hampshire International Speedway. Grissom, nonetheless, gave it 100 percent, driving his Ram from 21st to fifth at the checkered flag. The run marked the seventh consecutive race in which the former NASCAR Busch Series champion has finished higher than he started. "Our thoughts and prayers are with Kyle and Patty on the loss of their son," said Grissom prior to the event. "This is a difficult time for the Pettys but they are a strong family and we are there for them in their hour of need." Adam Petty twice competed in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, at Texas Motor Speedway and Richmond International Raceway. He posted a 10th-place finish at the latter venue in his NCTS debut. A Petty Enterprises truck has competed in 110 consecutive events since the beginning of the 1996 season.

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Kevin Triplett, NASCAR's director of operations who has executive oversight for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, flew home to Daytona Beach early Friday when his wife, Jill, went into labor. The couple's first child, Lucas William, was born later that evening. He weighed seven pounds three ounces. NASCAR Winston Cup Series Director Gary Nelson stood in for Triplett at Memphis Motorsports Park.

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Book ending forgettable finishes, Kenny Martin became the fifth consecutive different rookie-of- the-year candidate to land rookie-of-the-race honors. Martin finished ninth to log his second top-10 run of 2000. The Ohio freshman was seventh in the season-opening Daytona 250 but failed to finish four of his next five starts. "We really needed that for the team and morale," said the ARCA veteran. Busch, meanwhile, owns a big rookie standing lead after eight races - 120 points to the 81 scored by Carlos Contreras. Martin is third with 66.

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Former Washington Redskins coach and NASCAR Winston Cup/Busch Series team owner Joe Gibbs was on hand in Memphis to witness the debut of his son, J.D., who finished 28th. The Gibbs Racing general manager is sharing the MBNA Chevrolet with brother Coy, who'll return to the seat at Pikes Peak International Raceway.- Team Rensi and driver Jimmy Hensley have landed a sponsor for the remainder of the 2000 season. The Motient Corporation, formerly American Mobile Satellite Corporation, provides a wide range of two-way mobile and Internet communications services to the trucking industry over its integrated satellite/terrestrial network. The in-cab fleet management system, MobileMAX2, provides the transportation industry with mobile messaging, global positioning and vehicle and driver monitoring services.

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Nine drivers failed to qualify for the Quaker State 200 by AutoZone including first-timers Patrick Lawler and Tom Boston, a pair of Texans who previously competed in NASCAR Touring and the SCCA World Challenge, respectively. The entry of 45 teams was the second largest of the 2000 season.

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Bryan Reffner and Team Menard's Johns Manville Chevrolet let their first laps of 2000. Reffner, who finished eighth, last led a series race on Aug. 1, 1999 at New Hampshire International Raceway.

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A last-lap accident - Mike Wallace made contact with the CAT Rental Stores Chevrolet, sending the fourth-running truck into the Turn 3 wall - ended Andy Houston's series leading finishing streak at 37 races. Houston's last DNF came Sept. 19, 1998 at Gateway International Raceway. The new streak is just seven consecutive finishes, by Sprague, Grissom and Randy MacDonald. The Hickory, N.C. driver took a detour on his trip to the infield care center to confront Wallace and critique the latter's driving style. Wallace, whose point lead over Sprague dipped to 40 markers, contended Houston drove down on him.

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For the second consecutive week, David Starr posted his best series finish. Two late cautions cost Starr a top-five or top-10 finish. Starr finished 11th after taking the next-to-final restart in second- place.

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Impact Motorsports' Royal Crown Cola Dodge had its most competitive run of the season at Memphis Motorsports Park in the hands of substitute driver Scott Riggs. Riggs finished 12th after running as high as fifth. "We just were not able to bring home the type of finish that we were capable of this afternoon," said the 29-year-old Durham, N.C driver. "Some lapped traffic got in the way. I hate it for this team (because) these guys worked hard all day and we just wanted to everybody what were able to do."

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Sprague's 0.193-second margin of victory was the closest finish for the series at Memphis Motorsports Park. The total margin of victory for three NCTS events is just 0.875 second.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Adam Petty , Mike Skinner , David Starr , Greg Biffle , Jay Sauter , Mike Wallace , Andy Houston , Kurt Busch , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Marty Houston , Jack Sprague , Dennis Setzer , Lance Norick , Carlos Contreras , Rick Crawford , Jamie McMurray , Scott Riggs , Lance Hooper , Joe Ruttman , Ryan McGlynn , Bryan Reffner , Randy Tolsma , Jimmy Hensley , Rick Carelli , John Young , Steve Grissom , Rob Morgan , Phil Bonifield , Stan Boyd , Patrick Lawler , Wayne Edwards , Brian Sockwell , Ricky Sanders
Teams Hendrick Motorsports