Phoenix: Round 23 preview

'Originals' Hornaday, Skinner and Sprague reunite for Chevy Silverado 150 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Nov. 3, 2004) -- The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series' original Big Three competitors reunite this week for the Chevy Silverado 150 presented by Valley...

'Originals' Hornaday, Skinner and Sprague reunite for Chevy Silverado 150

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Nov. 3, 2004) -- The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series' original Big Three competitors reunite this week for the Chevy Silverado 150 presented by Valley Chevy Dealers at Phoenix International Raceway.

Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 47 ACXIOM Chevrolet), Mike Skinner (No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota), and Jack Sprague (No. 16 Chevy Trucks Chevrolet) will face off in a series race Friday for the first time since July 1998 at California Speedway.

The three drivers, who captured the series' first five championships, literally built the foundation of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. The slogan "Tough Trucks, Tough Drivers" originated with the trio, winners of a combined 66 races, including seven of 13 at Phoenix International Raceway.

Sprague last competed in a series race at Phoenix in 2001, Hornaday in 1999 and Skinner in 1996.

No one is more excited about the reunion than the drivers themselves -- fierce competitors on the track but friendly rivals elsewhere. They can't wait for the fireworks to begin.

"It will be like the old days," said Sprague, winner of three- consecutive races at Phoenix in 1996-97. "We had some great battles on the track throughout the years and developed a great friendship off the track. Phoenix was one of the places that either (Ron) or I seemed to win and the other ran second for several years."

"I could sit around all afternoon and talk about some of my races with Ron and Jack. To have the three of us back together is pretty cool," said Skinner, who's battling Sprague for the No. 10 spot in current points standings and still looking for his first victory of the year.

Hornaday, slated to return fulltime in 2005 to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series with Kevin Harvick's No. 6 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet team, doesn't think time has diminished the rivalry.

"The race fans in Phoenix don't want to miss this one," said Hornaday, who will run as teammate to Dennis Setzer (No. 46 Chevrolet Silverado Chevrolet), the current points leader by a point over Bobby Hamilton (No. 4 Square D Dodge).

Hornaday's Chevrolet All-Star entry was the third-place finisher last month at Martinsville Speedway with Bobby Labonte at the controls. Michael Waltrip and Tony Stewart also logged top-five finishes in the truck, which carries the colors of Big & Rich, a hot-selling country music duo.

"Phoenix is one of my all-time favorite tracks and I plan on adding another victory for Chevrolet," said Hornaday, who'll drive his No. 2 AC Delco Chevrolet in Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series Bashas' Supermarkets 200. Hornaday stands fourth in the NASCAR Busch Series standings.

Because he is the series' first race winner and champion, Skinner gets the last word on what should be an interesting afternoon.

"What do I remember about racing at Phoenix?" he asked. "I remember the first and second truck races at Phoenix -- probably because I whipped them both (Hornaday and Sprague). "I'm buddies with Ron and Jack until we get to the race track. Then I just want to beat them both because if you beat them, you know you've beaten the best."

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Bobby Labonte , Tony Stewart , Michael Waltrip , Mike Skinner , Kevin Harvick , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Jack Sprague , Dennis Setzer