PORTLAND, OR - If past performance provides us an indication of future results as it relates to victory, ...
PORTLAND, OR - If past performance provides us an indication of future results as it relates to victory, #24 Team GMAC driver Jack Sprague has little cause for concern heading into Saturday's Oregon 225K (ESPN, 3 p.m. EDT) at Portland International Raceway.
Yes, it's true that the 35-year-old driver from Michigan is still looking for his first win of the 2000 season. But, that is neither unusual nor alarming for the 1997 and 1999 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion. Sprague has recorded 16 career wins – all in Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet trucks – over the past four seasons. And yet, a quick glance at the record books reveals that none of those victories has ever come before April 20. Following is a list of Sprague's accomplishments in those seasons along with the event, date and site of his first victory in each respective year:
1996 (season recap: five victories, 2nd place finish in the point standings)
* Chevy Trucks Desert Star Classic 300 on April 21 in Phoenix, AZ
1997 (season recap: three victories, 1st place finish in the point standings)
* Chevy Trucks Desert Star Classic on April 20 in Phoenix, AZ
1998 (season recap: five victories, 2nd place finish in the point standings)
* NAPACARD 200 on May 9 in Monroe, WA
1999 (season recap: three victories, 1st place finish in the point standings)
* O'Reilly Auto Parts 200 on May 22 in Odessa, MO
* Sprague moved all the way from seventh to third in the NCTS point standings following his third place finish in Martinsville (4/10/2000), which matched a career-best effort at the Virginia short track. It marked Sprague's fourth straight upward movement in the standings since his 33rd-place finish to begin the season at Daytona.
* Entering this weekend's road course event at Portland International Raceway, Sprague leads all drivers entered in Saturday's field with eight top-five finishes on the left and right turn circuit. He is, however, still in search of his first career road course victory.
* Portland International Raceway features nine turns plus festival curves of various length and banking over its rollicking 1.95-mile surface. While Sprague's had ample opportunity to take the checkers in road course competition (at places such as Watkins Glen, Heartland Park Topeka and Sears Point), he's only had one chance to win at P.I.R. That's because last year's race was the first at the shifty, serpentine road course in Oregon. After starting last year's event in Portland fourth, Sprague finished 28th.
* Sprague and Joe Ruttman are the only NCTS drivers to compete in all 14 road course events.
* The Oregon 225K is the first of two road course events on the 2000 schedule with an event at Watkins Glen to follow on June 24.
#24 TEAM GMAC DRIVER JACK SPRAGUE'S THOUGHTS ON THE OREGON 225K:
"IT'D BE NICE TO ADD A ROAD COURSE WIN TO THE RESUME," SPRAGUE SAID. "YOU WANT TO BE VIEWED AS A DRIVER WHO CAN WIN ANYWHERE ON ANY KIND OF TRACK. IT'S NOT LIKE WE NEED ADDED INCENTIVE, BUT TEAM GMAC CAN DO SOMETHING IT'S NEVER DONE BEFORE IN PORTLAND THIS WEEKEND: TAKE THE CHECKERS FOR A ROAD COURSE EVENT. PERSONALLY, IT WOULD MEAN A LOT TO ME AS 'A FEATHER IN THE CAP' KIND OF THING FOR MY TIME IN THE TRUCKS."