SPARTA, KY - When Jack Sprague and the No. 16 Chevy Trucks Silverado team were heading to Kentucky Speedway for Saturday night's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race, it seemed they had a 900-pound bad-luck gorilla for a teammate. Sprague and...
SPARTA, KY - When Jack Sprague and the No. 16 Chevy Trucks Silverado team were heading to Kentucky Speedway for Saturday night's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race, it seemed they had a 900-pound bad-luck gorilla for a teammate. Sprague and company feel like they have shaken off the big guy with not only a strong run from the tenth starting spot to a second place finish but racing hard for the win as well, and are ready for bigger and better things this weekend at Gateway International Raceway.
"This is an incredible finish for our Chevy Trucks Silverado tonight," said Sprague. "We weren't very good this morning, our truck wasn't happy and the driver wasn't happy. I am so proud of Chris (Showalter, crew chief) and Dave (Fuge, team manager) and the guys. They made a ton of adjustments and we had a heck of a truck. That turkey would drive around that white line and it was awesome.
With five laps to go, the race restarted with Sprague in the No. 16 Chevy Trucks Silverado running second. He passed Bobby Hamilton in turn two to lead with five to go on lap 146. The caution flag flew again on lap 147. The race restarted on lap 151 for a green-white-checkered finish. Hamilton took the lead on lap 152 to take the win.
"Man we have had the worst luck in the last five races", Sprague continued. "We have had a truck that was capable of winning the last few races and I didn't think this was one of them but it ended up being a great night for us. Nothing happened; it was uneventful and turned out well. I couldn't be happier for our Chevy Trucks Silverado team and all of our sponsors. I feel like we got the monkey off our back."
At Kansas Speedway, the crew had put Sprague in a truck seriously capable of winning the race. At Kansas after moving into the lead, damage received in a racing incident took away all-important aero handling in the truck and they settled for eighth. At Milwaukee Sprague suffered a blown engine on lap 110 and retired from the race. Prior to the first signs of trouble on lap 96, Sprague was chasing down race leader Musgrave looking to capture his second win of the season. At Memphis, while leading from the pole in dominating fashion, Sprague was assessed a stop and go penalty and to the back of the longest line on a restart for a speeding violation slowing for the caution flag.
This week, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series heads for Gateway International Raceway just east of St. Louis. Not only are Sprague and the Chevy Trucks Silverado team running on the adrenaline and momentum of a great run and finish at Kentucky, but they also bring a winning of history and top-ten success to the event.
Sprague won the race in 2000; finished third in 1999; fourth in 1998 and kept his top-ten record alive with an eighth place finish in 2001. The IWX Racing team that fields the No. 16 Chevy Trucks Silverado finished third in 2002 with eventual NCTS champion Mike Bliss behind the wheel and scored third again in 2003 with Travis Kvapil, also going on to win the championship ring.
"I love Gateway," said Sprague. "It is a driver's track with the configuration being different at each end. If you have a pretty neutral truck you can get it through both ends pretty decent even through they are so different. You have to shift in one and two so grip is really important to keep the truck glued down. If you have a truck that is very good in one and two, you will be ok in three and four.
"But you have to have a team who understands how to give you the truck you need here and I have that with our No. 16 Chevy Trucks Silverado team. They had great runs with both Bliss and Kvapil, which is a huge confidence thing for a driver. We feel like we are ready to give it a heck of a run this weekend."
The team will have the additional benefit of Springfield, MO based team owner Steve Coulter and many IWX Motor Freight managers and employees at the race to cheer Sprague on to victory. With additional terminals in Kingman, AZ, Ft. Worth, TX and Edinburgh, IN, the company boasts over 525 late-model tractors and over 600 state-of-the-art trailers serving the 48 contiguous states and logging more than 100,000,000 miles per year.
The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers Ram Tough 200 is scheduled for Saturday night, July 17, 2004 at 7:00 PM CDT. Practice and qualifying will take place Friday, July 16.JLive television coverage will be on SPEED Channel. MRN Radio will bring the live action over the radio airwaves.