Tough Trucks coming to Daytona in 2000 By Brett Borden
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Nov. 2, 1999) Ladies and gentlemen, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series has arrived. It has arrived at the Mecca of Motorsports -- Daytona International Speedway, with a season-opening event that is expected to bolster an already strong Speedweeks schedule.
"I'm very proud and extremely excited to stand before you today and announce that the opening of the next NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will take place here at Daytona International Speedway on Friday, February 18 in the year 2000," said Dennis Huth, NASCAR vice president of touring operations and international development. "I think if you ask Jack Sprague or any other competitor in the series, they'll tell you that to compete at Daytona International Speedway is like a dream come true. What better way to kick off a tough truck season than at one of the tougher race tracks in the country today?"
DIS President John Graham announced the particulars of the race.
"The initial Daytona running of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will take place at 11 a.m. on Friday, February 18 -- that's the Friday just before the Daytona 500 -- and the addition of the trucks to Speedweeks enhances something that I thought could have no enhancement," he said. "On that day they will be coupled with the International Race of Champions. We feel like it's a real win-win. For us, the biggest part of this is that it's a real win for the fans. The trucks on the high banks should be quite a spectacle."
Graham said that talks will begin immediately on securing a sponsor for the race.
2000 Speedweeks schedule Thursday, Feb. 17: Gatorade 125-Mile Qualifying Races for the Daytona 500
Friday, Feb. 18: NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series 250 and Round One of the True Value IROC XXIV
Saturday, Feb. 19: NAPA Auto Parts 300 NASCAR Busch Series race
Sunday, Feb. 20: The Daytona 500
"In the absence of a sponsor -- and we don't have any doubt that we're going to be able to secure a sponsor for the race, the only question is will we have one as soon as the year 2000 -- we will simply call it the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series 250 at Daytona."
Newly crowned series champion Jack Sprague, whose parents live in the Daytona Beach, Fla., area, said the announcement was welcomed by the drivers, especially him.
"You win a championship you get invited to all this cool stuff," Sprague said. "I'm constantly reminded that some of the best races on television to watch are the Craftsman Truck Series races, and this will be no different. This will be one of the best races of the year for us.
"The draft plays a big part in the trucks anyways. And these guys aren't scared to mix it up. These guys are tough and these trucks are tough, and it's a lot tougher today than it was in 1995 to race these things. The fans are going to get a great show and we're going to get a great place to show what we can do."
When Graham was asked what the name of the race would be, Sprague interjected his own proposal.
"The Jack Sprague 250," said the champion.
It won't be called that, but it will be a 250-mile race (100 laps). Those miles will represent the start of the season, but also the conclusion of a long journey the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series has made to race in a place such as Daytona.
"Five years ago today when Bill France announced that the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series was going to become a reality, one of the things that we were uncertain of at that time is how would the trucks respond on the bigger facilities," Huth said. "If you've noticed, the past few years we've taken the truck series to bigger venues. For example, this was the first year at Michigan Speedway.
"We all heard the first year when we started was that the first thing we needed to do to equalize the trucks was have the dog in the bed and the gun rack in the back and the rest of the things that people considered were part of the series. That went away very quickly. It's the evolvement of the series that has brought us to this point.
"This is the Mecca of Motorsports. To open up the season here at Daytona with the great fans that flock to the area - you're talking about something that not only for the competitors but for the series is a wonderful package. It takes the series immediately another notch up. Over the past five years what we've seen is a nice, controlled growth within the series structure. The natural evolvement has been very positive."
Huth added NASCAR Winston Cup Series drivers wanting to join in the fun would be "welcomed with open arms."
"I'm sure there will be quite a few competitors from all walks that will be looking at this series more closely now that it is running the high banks of Daytona."
Yes, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series has arrived.
Tickets for all Speedweeks 2000 events are now available. Tickets for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and IROC race are $55 for reserved tower seating, and $40 for general admission. For ticket information and purchase, contact the Speedway Ticket office at (904) 253-7223 or log on to the Speedway's web site at www.daytonaintlspeedway.com.