Martinsville, Sprague to celebrate 150th event

MARTINSVILLE, VA (April 2, 2001) - On February 5, 1995, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debuted at Phoenix International Raceway with the Copper World Classic 300. Jack Sprague was there that day, starting 15th and finishing sixth. Sprague has...

MARTINSVILLE, VA (April 2, 2001) - On February 5, 1995, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debuted at Phoenix International Raceway with the Copper World Classic 300. Jack Sprague was there that day, starting 15th and finishing sixth. Sprague has never missed a NCTS event since - the only driver in Truck Series history to make that claim. On Saturday, April 7, Sprague and the series he has become synonymous with, will take the green flag for the 150th time in the Advance Auto Parts 250 at Martinsville Speedway. It's going to be a great day for everyone involved," said Sprague, driver of the No. 24 NetZero Chevrolet Silverado. "NASCAR, Craftsman, myself my sponsor, NetZero, all the drivers and teams. It's a real milestone for all of us. Everyone kind of chuckled when NASCAR said they were going to have a truck division. Now it's 150 races later and it's one of the best things going in all of racing, not just NASCAR. I'm really proud to say I've been a part of it since the very first race in Phoenix back in 1995 and that I'm still here. It's something that I'll point to with pride someday when I finally hang up my helmet."


Jack SpragueHendrick Motorpsorts. Photo: Craftsman/Carrick

Whenever that is, Sprague will be known for more than just his 'Ironman' streak of races in the series. Sprague has been a dominating force over the years winning a pair of series championships grabbing the crown in 1997 and 1999. Along the way, the 36-year-old Hendrick Motorsports driver has completed a whopping 95 percent of the laps and 96 percent of the miles contested. The first driver to win first $2 million and later $3 million in NCTS prize money, Sprague has notched an incredible 118 Top-10 finishes in the 149 races contested to date. "I'm going to have some records just because of the amount of time I've spent in the Truck Series," Sprague stated. "Some of them will be tough to break and others won't. I've been really fortunate to be with a great Hendrick Motorsports team led by Dennis Connor. It's like a big family. There's highs and lows to everything, but when you're with a good team and surround yourself with good people, I don't care what you do, you're going to look good. You're going to look better than you are. In that regard, I've been very fortunate." Sprague's 'good fortune' has produced 19 career NCTS victories, second only to Ron Hornaday's 25. His 85 Top-5 efforts outdistance Hornaday's second-best total by 20 and he has never finished out of the Top-5 in the final season point standings. A constant throughout Sprague's NCTS career is that he has run all 149 events in a Chevrolet. "Chevrolet has been very good to me and Hendrick Motorsports throughout my career," said Sprague. "Their support from the very beginning has been great and it's hard to argue with Chevy's 80 wins in the series (Ford is next with 52). They say Chevy Trucks are 'like a rock.' Well, they sure have been for me." Just how long Sprague will continue to compete in the Craftsman Truck Series remains to be seen. While others have moved on to different divisions, Sprague seems content to keep on truckin'. "I used to think a lot about moving back to the Busch Series or giving Winston Cup a try," said Sprague. "I might still consider that, but it would have to be a top-notch deal. I'm spoiled having the kind of great team and equipment that we have at Hendrick Motorsports. On the sponsor side, I've had great ones over the years and my new sponsor this year, NetZero, is terrific. Those things are hard to find in the other divisions. I'm used to running up front and winning. To take a ride to do something less than that wouldn't suit me. I'm not in racing for the money, I'm racing to win." Sprague will be trying to do just that at Martinsville. After some pre-race pomp and ceremony to celebrate his 150th event, Sprague will point his NetZero Chevy squarely toward the front in search of his first-ever Martinsville victory. "Martinsville probably takes more discipline than any other place I've ever raced," Sprague stated. "People look at Martinsville and think it's no big deal, but it's a tough, tough racetrack. We've gotten to the point now where we're pretty good there. Last year, we finished third. I don't think we had anything for Bobby Hamilton, but we probably should have ran second. Mike Wallace finished second and we were third. I tried to get by him, but I could do it without physical contact. We ran well there and hopefully, we can win there this year. I would really love that. A win at Martinsville has eluded us. It takes a lot of focus to win there and hopefully we can do that." The Advance Auto Parts 250 at Martinsville Speedway will take the green flag at 2 p.m. Eastern Time Saturday, April 7. Whether he wins or not, the race will mark a new chapter for both Sprague and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. "I'm sure there will be other guys that will eventually race in 150 events in the series," said Sprague. "It's nice that I was the first one to do it, but hopefully this isn't the end of it. Hopefully, I'll hit 250, maybe more. I'm real proud of racing in that many events. I'm real proud of what the Truck Series has become. I'm most proud of being the only driver to compete in every race in the history of the Truck Series. That's something special that no one else can claim."

<pre> JACK SPRAGUE - NCTS STATISTICAL DATA

CAREER STARTS - 149

FIRST START - Copper World Classic 300, Phoenix, AZ (6/5/95) Started 15th, Finished 6th

MOST RECENT START - Orchard Supply Hardware 250 Bakersfield, CA (3/17/01) Started - 7th, Finished - 2nd POLE POSITIONS - 13 times (Tied for Third All-Time) MOST RECENT POLE - Chevy Trucks 150, Phoenix, AZ (3/27/99)

BEST FINISH - 1st (19 Times, Second All-Time)

MOST RECENT WIN - Sears 200, Evergreen, WA (6/3/00)

FIRST CAREER WIN -      Desert Star Classic, Phoenix, AZ (4/21/96)      
    
TOP-5 FINISHES -        85 (First All-Time)
TOP-10 FINISHES -       118 (First All-Time)
        
CAREER EARNINGS -       $3,680,542 (First All-Time)

CHAMPIONSHIP FINISHES - 1995 - 5th 1996 - 2nd 1997 - 1st 1998 - 2nd 1999 - 1st 2000 - 5th

Laps/Miles Completed - 1995-2001

Laps Comp Laps Pos. Miles Comp. Miles Poss.

2001            521         521         635.500         635.500
2000            3572        4129        3725.810        4443.001
1999            4122        4955        4034.481        4281.974
1998            4793        4955        4411.660        4532.370
1997            4750        4840        4017.740        4151.617
1996            4528        4536        3556.912        3561.198
1995            2938        3008        1818.490        1864.810
                                            
TOTALS        25,224        26,370      22,200.593    23,470.470  

-John Close

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About this article
Series History , NASCAR Truck
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Jack Sprague
Teams Hendrick Motorsports