* Seven Californians Will Be In Field * Sprague Wins Three-Wide Thriller At Daytona * Martin And Harvick Set For California Truck Race California Speedway Represents Homecoming For Seven Drivers Seven Golden State natives will pace the...
* Seven Californians Will Be In Field
* Sprague Wins Three-Wide Thriller At Daytona
* Martin And Harvick Set For California Truck Race
California Speedway Represents Homecoming For Seven Drivers
Seven Golden State natives will pace the field for the San Bernardino County 200 at California Speedway. Among them are four series veterans, two rookies and a Daytona 500 champion. The group, which includes two series champions, has had surprisingly little success at the track. In 10 races, a California-native has yet to visit Victory Lane.
Ron Hornaday Jr. is the lone driver in the group that has fared well at California. He has four top-10 finishes, including one top five, in five starts. Mike Skinner (No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota), Bill Lester (No. 15 Chevrolet) and Matt Crafton (No. 88 Menards Chevrolet) have combined for only four top 10s in 17 starts.
Kevin Harvick will be making his fourth career start at California Speedway -- and first since 1999. His best finish is 15th.
Rookies Tyler Walker (No. 36 360 OTC Toyota) and A.J. Allmendinger (No. 00 Red Bull Toyota) will be making their first starts at the track.
AJ Allmendinger Los Gatos, Calif.
Matt Crafton Tulare, Calif.
Kevin Harvick Bakersfield, Calif.
Ron Hornaday Jr. Palmdale, Calif.
Bill Lester Oakland, Calif.
Mike Skinner Susanville, Calif.
Tyler Walker Los Angeles, Calif.
Sprague Leads Standings For First Time Since 2001
Although Jack Sprague (No. 60 Con-Way Freight Toyota) has not led the NASCAR Craftsman Track Series point standings in over five years, the view from the top is not unfamiliar for him. Sprague is the only three-time series champion and is arguably the greatest driver in series history.
Friday's win gave Sprague a 15-point lead over Johnny Benson (No. 23 Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Toyota) and Travis Kvapil (No. 6 K&N Ford), his first series lead since winning his third championship on Nov. 3, 2001.
Sprague used a push from Benson to pass Kvapil as the trucks came through the tri-oval. The three-wide finish was reminiscent of the 2003 race at the track when Rick Crawford (No. 14 Power Stroke Diesel by International Ford) held off Kvapil and Robert Pressley for the win.
The finish was so close that Sprague was unsure of his win until after he took the checkered flag. "I crossed the line and looked to the left and nobody was out in front of me," Sprague said. "I could see trucks, but I knew when I was looking at the nose of their trucks that certainly I was ahead of them, but I didn't know until the line."
The victory at famed Daytona International Speedway was the first at the track for Sprague -- and his manufacturer Toyota -- and further cemented his status among the series' elite.
Sprague won the race from the pole position for the eighth time in his career, a series record. He now has 28 career wins, one behind leader Ron Hornaday Jr. and 30 career poles, two behind leader Mike Skinner. In addition, Sprague's victory earned him a series race record $93,375. His career total of $6,390,259 leads all series competitors by over $1.5 million.
A trip to California Speedway is always welcomed by 2005 series champion Ted Musgrave (No. 9 Team ASE Toyota). In six races at the track, Musgrave has three victories and six top-five finishes.
"California Speedway is one of my favorite tracks," Musgrave said. "There is great racing, lots of strategy, drafting, fuel mileage challenges, pit strategy... the racing is definitely two grooves, maybe three grooves. It has all of the elements a driver loves to have."
Musgrave has "struggled" by his standards there recently. His third-place finish last year was his second-worst effort at the track, behind his fifth-place finish in 2005.
His three wins came in 2001, 2002 and 2003 -- the second longest win streak at one track in series history (Brendan Gaughan won four in a row at Texas Motor speedway in 2002 and 2003).
Musgrave will kick off his trip out west with a visit to Toyota headquarters in Torrance, Calif. If the past is any indication, his trip could end in Victory Lane.
Martin Leads California Loop Data Categories
They say nobody's perfect. But last year at California Speedway, Mark Martin was pretty darn close. Martin scored a near perfect driver rating of 149.0 last year, a point off the maximum rating of 150.0.
Martin makes his return to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and to California Speedway this weekend for the San Bernardino County 200. Last year at this time, Martin had completed back-to-back trips to Victory Lane with wins at Daytona and California.
And he dominated the Loop Data statistics while doing it, especially at California. During last year's California race, Martin had the top Average Running Position of 2.717 and was the Fastest on the Backstretch, Turn 1, Turn 2, Turn 3 and Turn 4. He also found his name on top of the Fastest Laps Run list (30), Fastest Green Flag Speed and Speed in Traffic.
So maybe he wasn't perfect, but Martin was certainly dominant.
The bridesmaid at California last year was Todd Bodine (No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota). If not for Martin, Bodine would have been the king of California. Over the last two years at California, Bodine was the Fastest Driver on the Frontstretch and was second- fastest to Martin -- who competed only in last year's California race -- on the Frontstretch and Turn 1.
Last week's winner at Daytona, Jack Sprague, has a sixth-best Driver Rating of 107.3 over the last two races at California.
"I absolutely love going to California Speedway. Even though we have struggled there in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, I still think it is the best place in the world. I was born in Ontario right outside from the Speedway, so I guess you could say it is my hometown track." -- Mike Skinner on racing at California Speedway
"I'm excited and anxious to ride our Daytona momentum into California Speedway. I really like the track and am hopeful that we'll be more competitive, power wise, against the competition so we can come out of there with at least a top-10." -- Bill Lester, who finished 11th at Daytona. Toyota Leads Ford In Manufacturers' Championship
Jack Sprague's victory put Toyota right where it left off last year - in first place in the manufacturers' championship. Travis Kvapil was the top-finishing Ford to put them second. Ron Hornaday Jr. finished seventh, the highest -finishing Chevrolet and Chase Miller (No. 4 Open Joist Dodge) was the top Dodge, finishing 22nd.
Next Race: San Bernardino County 200
The Place: California Speedway
The Date: Feb. 23
The Time: 9 p.m. (ET)
TV: SPEED 8:30 p.m. (ET)
Track Layout: 2-mile oval
Race Purse: $667,561
2006 Winner: Mark Martin
2006 Pole: David Reutimann
Thursday -- Practice, 2-3 p.m. & 4-5 p.m.; Rookie Practice, 3:15-3:45 p.m.; Friday: Qualifying, 1:10 p.m. (live on SPEED)