SPRAGUE'S WILD ADVENTURE IN NEW HAMPSHIRE "Three-Time Champion Remains Eighth In Points" LOUDON, NEW HAMPSHIRE (SEPTEMBER 18, 2006) - Despite having what Jack Sprague called one of his best trucks of the season prior to the start of the New ...
SPRAGUE'S WILD ADVENTURE IN NEW HAMPSHIRE
"Three-Time Champion Remains Eighth In Points"
LOUDON, NEW HAMPSHIRE (SEPTEMBER 18, 2006) - Despite having what Jack Sprague called one of his best trucks of the season prior to the start of the New Hampshire 200, the race turned sour for the three-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion and his No. 60 Con-way Freight Toyota team as they battled to score an 18th-place finish.
Sprague remains eighth in the championship point's standings, 429 points behind leader Todd Bodine, with seven races remaining in the 2006 season.
"We just couldn't get a break today," Sprague said. "We made contact with another truck early in the race and got black flagged by NASCAR. Then we had a left front tire go down. We had a broken sway bar arm, and we lost power steering. And that all happened in a 200-lap race.
"Today was just one of those days where you would like to go back, start all over again and hope for a different outcome. Honestly, if it wasn't one thing, it was another. We're heading to the city where people try their luck all the time, and I hope that we can finally get some good luck and get a good, strong finish that this Wyler Racing team deserves."
Sprague qualified 10th for the New Hampshire 200 and was looking forward to a solid run behind the wheel of the No. 60 Con-way Freight Toyota.
However, at lap seven, Sprague found himself in the middle of a three-wide race on the track. The No. 60 Toyota made contact with the No. 17 Toyota and sustained damage to the rear bumper. Sprague lost four spots due to the contact and fell to 14th-place.
"I didn't know he was out there," Sprague told his crew over the radio.
Due to the contact, Sprague's rear bumper cover came loose. NASCAR officials black flagged the No. 60 truck at Lap 10 for the loose bumper cover, and Sprague was forced to come down pit road under green flag conditions. The Wyler Racing pit crew cut off the rear bumper and returned Sprague to the race track in 34th place, one lap down.
Sprague needed to be the first truck one lap down so when the next caution flag waved, the No. 60 Toyota would be the "Lucky Dog" and move back onto the lead lap. At lap 41, Sprague moved into 31st place, but he was still not the first truck one lap down.
Sprague reported to his crew that his truck was loose getting into the corner and tight off. When the caution flag waved at lap 43, Sprague brought the No. 60 truck to the attention of his crew. The team made a track bar adjustment and took a rubber out of both rear springs. They also changed four tires and added fuel. Sprague returned to the track in 28th place for the restart at lap 48 - still one lap down.
It didn't take long for the bizarre chain of events to continue for Sprague as on lap 50 his left front tire went down which brought out another caution.
Sprague came down pit road to the attention of his team who changed left side tires and sent him back on the track. He then pitted again for the team to check the fenders to make sure that nothing was rubbing on the tire.
Sprague returned to the track at Lap 55 in 31st place, still a lap down. Back under the green flag, Sprague told his crew that the truck felt like the left front shock was broken. When Sprague pitted under the caution at Lap 66, the team found it was the left front sway bar that was broken. The team removed the sway bar arm, and Sprague returned to the track in 30th place.
Another caution at Lap 73 gave the No. 60 pit crew time to continue repairs to Sprague's truck. The team pitted at Lap 78 and 79 to replace the left front sway bar arm, fuel the truck and to make sure that the No. 60 was finally in good condition.
When the green flag dropped at Lap 80, Sprague was in 29th place. Sprague began picking up spots on the track. By Lap 89, Sprague moved into 22nd place -- he was the first truck one lap down.
The caution flag waved at Lap 90, and Sprague received the "Lucky Dog" pass, moving him back onto the lead lap. Under the caution, Sprague told crew chief Tony Furr that the truck was still a little loose getting into the corner and tight in the center.
Again, the No. 60 pitted. The crew made a wedge and a track bar adjustment and added fuel. Sprague returned to the track in 21st place for the restart at Lap 94.
Back on the lead lap, Sprague began clicking off positions on the race track. By lap 100, Sprague had moved into 17th. He had gained four more spots and was sitting in 13th when the eighth caution of the night waved at Lap 117.
Sprague brought the No. 60 to the attention of his pit crew. The team took two rounds of bite out, changed four tires and added fuel. A good stop helped Sprague to pick up one spot and return to the track in 12th place.
At Lap 130, Sprague told his crew that his truck was still a little too tight in the center, but he didn't think the truck was that bad.
It seemed as if Sprague and the No. 60 were in the position for another top 10 run when trouble struck again. At Lap 166, Sprague's truck got together with the No. 16 Chevrolet bringing out yet another caution.
Sprague pitted under the caution for four fresh tires. The team also worked to remove and repair the loose sheet metal. Sprague also informed his crew that he had lost power steering on his No. 60 Con-way Freight Toyota Tundra.
He returned to the track at Lap 172 in 19th place.
Sprague battled the truck and the lack of power steering over the course of the next 28 laps to finish the race in 18th place.
"At one point, I didn't know if we were going to make it to the end of that race or not," Sprague said. "That old saying - if we didn't have bad luck, we'd have no luck at all - applied to this No. 60 Con-way Freight Toyota team today.
"Although we didn't get the finish we thought we would today, I'm proud of this pit crew for not giving up. Every challenge that was presented to them -- and there were lots of them -- they tackled head on and worked to make the truck the best it could be given the circumstances.
"We'll just regroup and head to Las Vegas -- and hope that 'Lady Luck' smiles on this team because we deserve a good finish."
Sprague and the No. 60 Con-way Freight Toyota will return to action next Saturday, Sept. 23 at 9:15 p.m. ET at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the Smith's Las Vegas 350. The race can be seen on SPEED and heard on MRN/XM Satellite Radio.
-credit: wyler racing