SPRAGUE'S STRONG RUN SPOILED AT BRISTOL "Top-Five Run Ruined With Blown Tire Late In The Race" BRISTOL, TENNESSEE (AUGUST 25, 2006) - Jack Sprague and the No. 60 Con-way Freight team came to the Bristol Motor Speedway with high hopes. Two...
SPRAGUE'S STRONG RUN SPOILED AT BRISTOL
"Top-Five Run Ruined With Blown Tire Late In The Race"
BRISTOL, TENNESSEE (AUGUST 25, 2006) - Jack Sprague and the No. 60 Con-way Freight team came to the Bristol Motor Speedway with high hopes. Two other NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races in the state of Tennessee had resulted in a win (Memphis) and a second-place finish (Nashville) for Sprague and the Wyler Racing team, and they hoped for similar results at the half-mile bull ring.
After qualifying in 17th position, Sprague had his work cut out for him to move up to the front at the high-banked short track where track position is at a premium especially on a night when passing would be very difficult. But the team was confident that the results would be better than the beginning of the night.
"The Con-way Freight team gave me a great truck for the race at Bristol," Sprague said. "We had a good game plan for the night, and if our bad luck wouldn't have gotten in the way, I think we would have had a top five finish."
The No. 60 Con-way Freight Toyota started in 17th when the green flag waved on the O'Reilly 200. Sprague held his position over the course of the race's first 25 laps.
When the second caution of the night waved at Lap 28, Sprague and the No. 60 Con-way Freight Toyota were still in 17th place. Sprague brought the No. 60 to the attention of his pit crew for four fresh tires and fuel. The team also added a spring rubber to the right rear. Sprague returned to the track in 22nd place for the restart at Lap 33.
By Lap 40, Sprague had been able to move into the 19th position. However, passing was still difficult. It took another 20 laps for Sprague to move up one spot to 18th place.
Crew chief Tony Furr told Sprague that he was turning laps as fast as the leaders, but they needed track position. The No. 60 Con-way Freight team got just what it needed when the caution flag waved at Lap 64. Many of the leaders pitted, and Sprague moved up into the seventh spot on the race track.
During the caution period, Sprague expressed his concern that his brake pedal seemed a little soft. And at the short track, braking plays a crucial role in being a contender for the win. By Lap 75 though, Sprague had moved into sixth-place, and he said the pedal seemed to be coming back. In just another 10 laps, the No. 60 Con-way Freight Toyota moved into the Top 5.
"We are in good shape," Sprague told his pit crew over the radio.
Over the course of the next 50 laps, Sprague and the No. 60 Con-way Freight Toyota remained in the fifth spot on the race track. When the caution flag waved at Lap 148, Sprague told the crew that his biggest problem was lap traffic holding him up on the restarts.
At Lap 170, Sprague was still in the fifth spot on the race track and was not gaining on the leaders. Sprague told the crew that he was getting beat in the center of the turns, but that he was still hoping to pick up some spots.
Those hopes were dashed on Lap 183, when Sprague cut a right front tire and hit the turn one wall. The caution flag came out for Sprague's wreck, and he pitted. The team changed right side tires, added fuel and pulled out the right front fender which was rubbing the tire due to the contact with the wall.
The team pitted a second time at Lap 188 to pull out the fender some more. Sprague returned to the track at Lap 190 in 25th place, one lap down.
In the remaining laps, Sprague was able to pick up two more spots and finished 23rd. The finish dropped Sprague two positions in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series standings to the eighth spot -- 378 points behind leader Todd Bodine. Sprague is just 77 points out of the top five.
"I told the guys not to hang their heads," Sprague said. "We had a good truck and we ran a good race. We did all we were supposed to do tonight at a track that can be extremely difficult and where a lot of folks don't even finish the race on a typical night. We can't control what happened with the tires.
"We want to get into the top five in points, so we have some work to do, but I have a lot of faith in this Con-way Freight team."
The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will take a few weeks off before returning to action at New Hampshire International Speedway for the Sylvania 200 on Saturday, Sept. 16.
-credit: wyler racing