SPRAGUE BATTLES HANDLING FOR 7TH PLACE FINISH IN PHOENIX "Driver And Team Searches For Missing Team Mascot" AVONDALE, ARIZONA (November 13, 2006) - For Jack Sprague, Phoenix has long been his favorite track on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck ...
SPRAGUE BATTLES HANDLING FOR 7TH PLACE FINISH IN PHOENIX
"Driver And Team Searches For Missing Team Mascot"
AVONDALE, ARIZONA (November 13, 2006) - For Jack Sprague, Phoenix has long been his favorite track on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series circuit. With eight finishes of second or better, Sprague and his Con-way Freight racing team came to Phoenix for the Casino Arizona 150 with high hopes for a strong finish and a good point's day.
But Friday night's race at Phoenix was not a typical outing at the desert race track for Sprague. Forced with handling difficulties, Sprague wheeled his No. 60 Con-way Freight Toyota to a seventh-place finish.
"We had an ill handling truck all night long, but I just drove it for all it had," Sprague said. "Considering how that truck felt, I'm happy with where we finished. We have had our troubles with that truck so maybe it is time to retire it or something."
Starting 21st, Sprague would have to work his way through traffic to have a shot for another top 10 at Phoenix International Raceway.
After a Lap one caution, Sprague restarted in 22nd place. Just a couple of laps later as Sprague raced to regain his position, the No. 4 truck spun in front of Sprague. The No.60 Toyota didn't get any damage from the spinning truck, and Sprague restarted in 21st place at Lap 13.
Sprague began to march through the field -- passing a truck nearly every lap. When the caution waved at Lap 34, Sprague had picked up eight spots on the race track and was recorded in 13th spot. Sprague told his crew chief Tony Furr that the No. 60 Wyler Racing Toyota was loose off the corner. Because of the loose handling condition, Sprague said he couldn't give the truck full gas quick enough.
Sprague brought the race truck to the attention of his pit crew for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. A quick pit stop helped Sprague gain two more spots on pit road, and he returned to the track in 11th place for the restart at Lap 39.
As the green flag dropped for the restart, Sprague fell one position to the 12th spot. After just 20 laps, Sprague told his crew that the changes they had made to Sprague's Toyota Tundra seemed to have gone too far. Now, Sprague was complaining of being tight in the center of the corner.
Despite a tight handling condition, Sprague was able to pick up a few more sports on the race track. When the caution flag waved at Lap 97, Sprague was in eighth spot, but his tight condition was getting worse.
Once again, Sprague brought the No. 60 down pit road for service. The pit crew changed four tires and added fuel. They also made a track bar and an air pressure adjustment. Sprague returned to the track in eighth place for the final 50 laps of the race.
Over the course of the remaining laps, Sprague was able to gain just one more spot to finish in seventh place. The finish was Sprague's 13th top-10 of the season, and it moved him one spot up in the points to seventh -- just 36 points out of the top five.
With one race remaining in the 2006 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season, Sprague and the Con-way Freight Toyota team have one goal -- to win and break into the top five in points.
"I'm proud of what this team was able to accomplish today," Sprague said. "Our truck wasn't good. I really battled some handling issues on the race track, and the guys stuck with it to make the changes I needed on pit road, which helped to make it driveable. Seventh place isn't bad, and we were able to pick up a spot in the points.
"And we did it all without our mascot -- 'Monkey.' We're not sure what happened to him, but we feel like one of our competitors might be playing a joke on us. We hope that 'Monkey' will come home to our 60 truck next week for the last race at Homestead -- and who knows what we can accomplish if we get 'Monkey' back."
Sprague will have one last shot for Victory Lane on Friday, Nov. 17 at Homestead-Miami Speedway at 8:05 p.m. ET. The Ford 200 can be seen on SPEED and heard on MRN and XM Satellite radio.