Mansfield: Jack Sprague race notes

SPRAGUE SCORES 2ND PLACE FINISH AT MANSFIELD "Three-Time Champ Strong Again On Ohio Short Track" MANSFIELD, OHIO (MAY 29, 2006) - Mansfield Motorsports Speedway is Jack Sprague's kind of track. Sprague scored his second...

SPRAGUE SCORES 2ND PLACE FINISH AT MANSFIELD
"Three-Time Champ Strong Again On Ohio Short Track"

MANSFIELD, OHIO (MAY 29, 2006) - Mansfield Motorsports Speedway is Jack Sprague's kind of track. Sprague scored his second consecutive second-place finish at the Ohio short track on Saturday afternoon in the No. 60 Con-way Freight Toyota.

"I didn't think that the Con-way Freight Toyota was going to be quite as good as it ended up being today," Sprague said. "The sun came out this morning, and the truck was really, really good. Today was a good race and a good finish for us, and we really needed that."

With qualifying being washed out at the short track, Sprague started ninth based on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series owner's points standings after six races so far this season.

It didn't take long for Sprague to see that strategy would be critical in the 250-lap race. At Lap six, Sprague reported to his No. 60 Con-way Freight team that it was going to be very tough to pass on the race track. In fact, there were only two lead changes during the course of the City of Mansfield 250.

Because of the difficulty of picking up positions on the race track, Sprague and the No. 60 Con-way Freight team led by crew chief Tony Furr knew that their pit stop strategy would be crucial to putting the Wyler Racing team out front at the end of the race.

When the caution came out at Lap 28, Sprague gave up ninth place and came down pit road to the attention of his crew. The No. 60 Con-way Freight crew changed tires and added fuel. Sprague returned to the track in 31st position.

"Our pit strategy worked really well for us," Sprague said. "When I came down pit road and no one came with us, I thought 'uh-oh,' but we did exactly what we needed to do to get a good finish. It was a good pit strategy because in the end, we didn't have to pass a lot of trucks. It was just very difficult to pass at this track, and when the tires are hard and don't give away, it means that passing will be next to impossible."

Now mired in traffic in the back of the pack, Sprague would have to be patient as passing continued to be an issue for the race trucks on the track. When the caution waved at Lap 41, a line of race trucks came down pit road, which helped Sprague pick up positions on the race track. At the restart at Lap 46, Sprague was sitting in 18th place.

The caution-filled race -- 18 in all -- made it difficult for the trucks to pick up a rhythm and pass on the race track. By Lap 74 as the caution flag waved again, Sprague had moved into 10th-place. Once the race restarted, Sprague picked up four positions and moved into sixth-place due to other teams making pit stops.

At Lap 101, Sprague narrowly avoided a spinning race truck directly in front of him. It was a close call, but the spotter and Sprague worked well together to help avoid the wreck. Sprague continued on with no damage in fifth-place.

Sprague reported to his crew that the No. 60 Toyota started off loose, but the truck was good after about five green flag laps. But running five consecutive laps wasn't easy with the consistent yellow flags.

At Lap 115, the leaders pitted in front of Sprague under caution and he moved into third-place. Within a few laps, Sprague moved up one spot into second. Although Sprague would make an attempt to take the lead, he just couldn't make a pass for the win.

Sprague and the No. 60 Con-way Freight Toyota team finished second -- his third finish in the top two since the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series began coming to Mansfield in 2004.

"I've had two seconds and a first for here at Mansfield, so you could say that I love this place," Sprague said. "It feels like a home track to me. I don't really have a clue why I am so good here, but I have been. I'm really happy with today's outcome."

With his second-place finish at Mansfield, Sprague moved up three positions in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series points standing. Sprague currently sits in sixth spot with four top-fives and four top-10s in seven races so far this season.

The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will return to action this Friday, June 2 and Dover International Speedway. The green flag drops at 4:45 p.m. ET on the AAA Insurance 200. It can be seen on Speed Channel (tape-delayed until 8 p.m. ET) and heard Live on MRN and XM Satellite Radio.

-wwi-

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Jack Sprague