Hornaday, Sprague set to renew battle in Homestead

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Jan. 18, 1999) The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is set to open its fifth season of competition March 20 with the Florida Dodge Dealers 400 at the Miami-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex, and continue one of the division's most popular traditions -- the battle between defending champion Ron Hornaday and Jack Sprague -- for the crown.

Both Hornaday, who won titles in 1996 and 1998, and Sprague, the 1997 champ, look poised to continue their domination of NASCAR's fastest-growing series. Hornaday is the leading winner in series' history with 23 victories. Sprague is third with 13, trailing only Hornaday and current NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver Mike Skinner (16).

"We've got two great teams, two great trucks and one great manufacturer -- Chevrolet's the best," said Hornaday, who was testing Dale Earnhardt Inc.'s No. NAPA Auto Parts Chevy Silverado at Homestead last Friday in preparation for the opener. "But I'm not even going to picture the two of us fighting it out for the championship again -- you've got 70 other trucks that want to win the title."

"There's no rivalry -- we both want to win, that's all there is to it," said Sprague, who drives the No. 24 GMAC Financial Services Silverado fielded by Hendrick Motorsports.

Unofficially, Sprague posted the fastest lap of the two-day Chevrolet test, the debut of the Silverado body style here in racing trim. He ran a simulated qualifying run of 36.3 seconds (148.760 mph), just off his 1998 Bud Pole time of 36.173 (149.283 mph).

But Sprague's fastest lap wasn't what had the Michigan driver smiling.

"We've basically been working on our race setups, and ran pretty fast on old tires, running consistent 36.60s," Sprague said. "That's the name of the game. I like this place, we always run good here, and I think we've got a good shot at winning here in March."

Sprague has finishes of second, fifth and second in three races at Homestead. While he dominated the event last March, leading nearly half the race, he wound up 2.4 seconds short behind upset winner Rick Crawford.

Hornaday also has three top-10 finishes in the Florida Dodge Dealers 400, third, sixth and eighth.

The Florida Dodge Dealers 400 joins the CART FedEx Championship Series in the speedway's season-opening March 19-21 weekend. Sunday's event schedule features the Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami Presented by Toyota, plus the PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Series. For ticket orders, call (305) 230-7223. For additional information, visit the Speedway's official Web site, www.racemiami.com.

In upcoming test sessions, Ford NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series teams will be at Homestead Jan. 25-26. The Dodge truck teams will test Feb. 5-6.

Source: NASCAR Online