LAS VEGAS -- You couldn& ...
LAS VEGAS -- You couldn’t blame Jack Sprague for letting out a big cheer when the 2001 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series schedule was announced and Las Vegas Motor Speedway was again one of the stops on the tour.
After all, Sprague has all but owned the ultra-fast 1.5-mile superspeedway in four previous NCTS races. A return there after a one-year absence has the driver of the No. 24 NetZero Platinum Chevrolet Silverado excited about another up-front finish. Sprague has won at Texas, New Hampshire, Indianapolis and Richmond this year and is a favorite to visit LVMS' victory lane in the Oct. 14 Orleans 350.
“ I have a lot of tracks that I really like, but Las Vegas has always been one of my favorites,” said Sprague.“ It’s a great facility -- smooth, wide, fast. I just love racing there. Of course, having the kind of success we've had at Las Vegas would make it anyone's favorite track.”
Sprague’s record at LVMS is remarkable. In four NCTS races at the track, Sprague has never finished worse than second. He won the inaugural Truck Series event in 1996 and visited LVMS’ victory lane again in 1998. A victory in the 1998 Sam’s Town 250 proved to be Sprague’s largest-ever NCTS payout ($84,725) and gave the fans a thrilling finish to the season as Sprague and Ron Hornaday Jr. battled to the wire for the division championship.
“ Man, the 1998 race was a great event,” said Sprague, who also won the pole for the 1997 and 1998 Las Vegas Truck Series events.“ I won the race, but Ron won the championship by three points when he finished second. We did these great doughnuts together in the infield grass, jumped out of our trucks and celebrated in front of the crowd. They were going nuts. I was happy we won the race and I was happy for Ron. It's one of the most memorable moments in my career.”
That’s saying something considering Sprague has had a career full of memorable moments. One of the Truck Series’ most recognizable stars, Sprague is the only driver to have started every race since the series debuted at Phoenix International Raceway in 1995. During that span, the 36-year-old driver from Spring Lake, Mich., driver has completed more laps and miles, led more laps, posted more top-five and top-10 finishes and won more money than any other competitor in series history. Sprague, who was also the first driver to eclipse the $2-and $3-million mark in NCTS career earnings, will be looking to add to all those marks when he takes to the LVMS oval this time around.
“ We go into every race thinking we have a shot at winning, but that’s especially true at Las Vegas,” stated Sprague.“ There's just something about the place that suits our team and me as a driver. We just always seem to run well and that makes racing there a lot of fun. To say I'm really glad they decided to return Vegas to the schedule this year is an understatement.”
The Orleans 350 is the headline act of a two-day racing tripleheader at LVMS. The Nevada 100 NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Series kicks off the event at 6:30 p.m. (Pacific Time) on Saturday, Oct. 13. The 24 Hour Fitness 150 NASCAR Winston West Series event follows at 8 p.m. The Orleans 350 will get the green flag at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 14.