NASCAR-CT: Indianapolis Raceway Park Story Clermont, Indiana (July 30, 1998) - Jack Sprague won the Cummins 200 Craftsman Truck race at Indianapolis Raceway Park, in a race with an action-packed final 50 laps. The first half of the race saw...
NASCAR-CT: Indianapolis Raceway Park Story
Clermont, Indiana (July 30, 1998) - Jack Sprague won the Cummins 200 Craftsman Truck race at Indianapolis Raceway Park, in a race with an action-packed final 50 laps.
The first half of the race saw Ron Hornaday, Randy Tolsma, Jack Sprague, Joe Ruttman, Jimmy Hensley, Joe Ruttman, Jay Sauter, Mike Wallace, Kevin Harvik and Rick Crawford, all of whom qualified up front, holding positions in the top 10. The new track surface allowed side-by-side racing, but there were relatively few passes in the early stages. Early action was marred by fifth-fastest qualifier Mike Bliss spinning into the Turn 1 wall. Bliss continued, but was never a factor. On lap 53, Tony Raines and Dennis Setzer, running outside the top 10 but moving up, tangled in Turn 3. Setzer got moving quickly, but Raines fell two laps behind. Raines provided excitement throughout the evening, tenaciously making up the two lost laps and finishing fourth.
The new pit stop rules applied this week, with trucks receiving service during the race rather than in a mid-race break. A caution at lap 100 let the leaders take their stop for right side tires and fuel under yellow. Jack Sprague, who had been leading before pit stops, emerged still in the lead, but slipped back to sixth as he lost grip with cold tires. Once his tires warmed, he made good use of the wider racing groove to move back to the front.
During a seven-lap yellow on lap 149, the leaders elected to pit for left side rubber. This scrambled the sequence, with Ron Barfield, Lonnie Rush, Tony Roper, Greg Biffle and Wayne Anderson up front. Jack Sprague, leader before the stops, was in eighth, followed by the rest of the race-long leaders.
The scrambled order led to action as the faster group of trucks, on fresh tires, worked their way past the new leaders on old tires. Over the next dozen laps, the race became a contact sport. The event of the race came on lap 173, when Jack Sprague got together with Ron Hornaday, Hornaday winding up in the Turn 1 wall. After Hornaday got rolling again, he expressed his displeasure with a brake-check to Sprague on the backstretch. Hornaday was sent to the pits to cool off.
Soon after the green fell, Sprague took the lead from Lonnie Rush, with contact between the two sending Rush into a slide from first to fourth.
A final spin on lap 192 set up a single file restart for the final six laps. Hornaday retained the lead, and was followed by Tony Roper in second place. Behind them, Joe Ruttman moved past Lonnie Rush for third. The final turn saw Tony Raines, who had recovered his two laps, side by side with Lonnie Rush. The photo finish for fourth was resolved in favor of Raines, with Rush rounding out the top five.
After the race, Sprague said "I feel terrible about that deal with Ron. I got underneath him coming off four, went down the front stretch, and was up to his door. I went into one in the bottom lane and he was coming down. I got on the brakes, but I couldn't go lower. I just didn't want it to happen."
Ken Plotkin - Motorsport News International
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