COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - ...
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - #24 GMAC driver Jack Sprague rolls into Sunday's Grainger.com 200 at Pikes Peak International Raceway on a Rocky Mountain high of his own.
That's because, on Saturday, Sprague won for the second time in as many weeks in the Quaker State 200 at Memphis Motorsports Park. Just six days prior, Sprague had registered his first victory of the 2000 season at Gateway International Raceway. In the present point standings, Sprague now trails Mike Wallace by just 40 points as he continues his quest for an unprecedented third NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series title.
Sprague, the defending series champion, will have a teammate for this weekend's race as rookie Ricky Hendrick makes his truck series debut in the #17 GMAC Chevrolet Silverado. Other noteworthy items heading into Sunday's event at Pikes Peak: * Sprague has now posted seven top fives in succession (no finish worse than third) dating back to Feb. 26 at Homestead. He can tie Ron Hornaday's season record of eight-straight top-five finishes Sunday at Pikes Peak.
* Sprague became just the second driver to win two races in succession on four different occasions (Mike Skinner is the other). It was this time last year that Sprague most recently turned the back-to-back trick, winning at Odessa (5/22/99) and Bristol (6/5/99). The 35-year-old Michigan native is the first NCTS driver to do it in three different seasons -- 1996, 1999 and 2000.
* Should he prevail at Pikes Peak, Sprague will match Hornaday's most recent benchmark for three consecutive wins, which was established during the '97 season.
* Last season, momentum began in earnest for Sprague in this event as he carried the #24 GMAC Financial Services Chevrolet to near-victory at Pikes Peak (finishing in second place). He then proceeded to win his next two events at Odessa and Bristol, respectively.
* This season, the tables have effectively turned as Sprague enters the Pike Peak race on the heels of back-to-back wins at Gateway and Memphis, respectively.
* As mentioned, Hendrick Motorsports rookie Ricky Hendrick will make his NCTS debut in Sunday's Grainger.com 200 at Pikes Peak. Hendrick, 20, is slated to run 15 Busch Grand National events and a handful of truck races this season with GMAC as his primary sponsor. He recently posted his first-ever top-five finish in BGN competition, bringing the #24 GMAC Chevrolet home fifth in April's BellSouth Mobility 320 at Nashville Speedway USA. Jack Sprague:
"That's two in a row now and Team GMAC likes Pikes Peak an awful lot, too," Sprague said. "If it wasn't for that little mishap we had in Daytona, we'd really be in good shape in the points. But, you know what? We're not doing too bad right now either."
Sprague added, "This'll be exciting having Ricky (Hendrick) as a running mate this weekend. I know the kid's got talent, and right now, he's doing a good job earning his stripes as a rookie. We'll do whatever we can to help him out. (Crew chief) Dennis (Connor) is going to set Ricky's truck up and that'll help his cause right from the start. As far as I'm concerned, there's nobody in this business better than Dennis when it comes to knowing what a race vehicle needs at any given track. It should be another solid week for GMAC." Pikes Peak International Raceway (1 mile) <pre> Year Event Start Finish Laps Money Won Status 1999 NAPA 300K 5 2 189/189 $28,350 Running 1998 Tempus Resorts 300K 7 31 174/198 8,425 Running