FONTANA, Calif. - ...
FONTANA, Calif. - #24 Team GMAC driver Jack Sprague has one chance left this season to win a second NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Championship. That opportunity comes during Saturday's NAPA Auto Parts 200 (ESPN: 4 p.m. EDT) at California Speedway just outside Los Angeles. Noteworthy items include:
History is on Sprague's side when it comes to winning this race. The 35-year-old Spring Lake, Mich., product won this event last year at California Speedway by .364 seconds over then-Winston Cup regular Ernie Irvan. Sprague also triumphed in the '98 season finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, so clearly he knows how to finish strong. In addition to winning though, Sprague also needs some help from Greg Biffle, whom he trails by 21 points in the standings. In 1997, needing only to start the season finale in Vegas to win the NCTS title, Sprague stormed to a second-place finish en route to his first crown. This is the fourth straight year that Sprague enters the season finale with an opportunity to win the NCTS Championship. Sprague established the standard for fastest race in NCTS history with an average winning speed of 141.844 mph in last year's event at California Speedway. Sprague's average finish at California Speedway is 3.5 (see overall record below). Additionally, the Hendrick Motorsports driver is the only NCTS competitor to lead both previous California events.
Sprague, the driver of the #24 GMAC Financial Services Chevrolet, is one of only two drivers to compete in all 122 NCTS events in the circuit's five-year history. Ron Hornaday is the other.
Sprague's thoughts heading into Saturday's event at California Speedway:
"Considering some of the luck we've had this season, or haven't had, I feel good just to have a chance at this title," Sprague said. "All this talk about pressure and nerves, what are you gonna do? You show up, give all you've got and hope that it's enough. We just need a little help from the other side at this point.
Added Sprague, "I'm not gonna be devastated if we happen to fall short. Disheartened, yes. Devastated, no. Don't get me wrong. I want to win more than anybody I know, and maybe it'd be different if we hadn't won in 1997, but it's not gonna kill me if we fight hard and fall a bit short. It happened last year, and you know what, I'm still here getting after it for another title."
Jack Sprague's Career Record at California Speedway (2.0 miles)
Year Event Start Finish Laps Money Won Status 1998 The No Fear Challenge 12 1 100/100 $42,775 Running 1997 The No Fear Challenge 2 6 100/100 11,225 Running