Gateway Rivals Met Again

Hornaday, Sprague to go at it again By Shawn A. Akers MADISON, Ill. (Sept. 17, 1998) The Jack Sprague-Ron Hornaday points battle in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series won't take a vacation this week. If anything, it's bound to get even more ...

Hornaday, Sprague to go at it again By Shawn A. Akers

MADISON, Ill. (Sept. 17, 1998) The Jack Sprague-Ron Hornaday points battle in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series won't take a vacation this week. If anything, it's bound to get even more intense.

The two series veterans, who have swapped the lead in the series point standings religiously over the past weeks, will go at it again on Saturday afternoon in the Ram Tough 200 presented by Pepsi at Gateway International Raceway. Sprague holds the series lead by 15 points heading into Saturday's event, the 22nd race on the 27-event series schedule, but that doesn't mean he'll necessarily have it when the checkered flag flies.

Hornaday, the 1996 series champion and a six-time winner in the series this season, drew closer to Sprague last Sunday when he won the Memphis 200 at Memphis Motorsports Park. Sprague wrestled the points lead away from Hornaday the previous Thursday when he won the Virginia is for Lovers 200 at Richmond International Raceway and Hornaday finished a disappointing 22nd.

Sprague qualified third for Saturday's race with a fast lap of 131.062 mph. He'll start one row ahead of Hornaday, who qualified sixth during first-round qualifying on Friday.

Sprague said he hopes that the lead won't change again for the rest of the season, as has been the history of the series down the stretch.

"We've got ourselves in a nice position right now, but it's far from being over with six races left to go," Sprague said. "We do have some things working in our favor, especially the schedule and those last two events at Phoenix and Las Vegas. The superspeedways have been our strong suit in the past, and I like our chances with the way things shape up."

Joe Ruttman, driver of the No. 99 Exide Batteries Ford, is also still well in the running for the 1998 championship. He's only 88 points behind Sprague and 73 points behind second- place Hornaday.

Hornaday was disappointed in his qualifying effort on Friday. He qualified sixth with a fast lap of 130.457 mph.

"I guess I just wasn't ready for it today," Hornaday said. "It was a little loose down there into (Turn) 1 and I just drove it off in there. I guess it'll be all right. We're at a big track and to get the NAPA Chevrolet that close to the front will be good in the race. We're in the top-10 and we'll take it."

Following Saturday's race, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series travels to Martinsville, Va.; Sonoma, Calif.; Bakersfield, Calif.; Phoenix; and Las Vegas.

Sprague has won at Phoenix and Las Vegas in the past, while Hornaday owns a victory at Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield.

Source: NASCAR Online

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Ron Hornaday Jr. , Jack Sprague , Joe Ruttman