SPRAGUE AND HIS CON-WAY TOYOTA EXPERIENCE TOUGH LUCK "Untimely Flat Tire Cost 3-Time Champ Valuable Track Position" Martinsville, Virginia (April 2, 2006)- Jack Sprague isn't shy about telling people that Martinsville Speedway is not one of...
SPRAGUE AND HIS CON-WAY TOYOTA EXPERIENCE TOUGH LUCK
"Untimely Flat Tire Cost 3-Time Champ Valuable Track Position"
Martinsville, Virginia (April 2, 2006)- Jack Sprague isn't shy about telling people that Martinsville Speedway is not one of his favorite places on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series circuit. Sprague's opinion of the Virginia short track is not going to be changing any time soon following his 17th-place finish there this weekend in the No. 60 Con-Way Toyota Tundra.
"Sometimes it seems if it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all," Sprague said. "We had a truck come down on us in the corner early in the race and make some contact, but that didn't slow down this Con-Way Toyota Team. The guys had great pit stops, but we just couldn't get our Toyota Tundra to run the way I needed it to so that I could get through the field. And when we finally did have our truck in a position for a Top 10 finish, we had a flat tire. Track position is so important at Martinsville and having to pit there towards the end for the flat tire really hurt. We just couldn't get things to go our way today."
Sprague, who has had a trio of third-place finishes at Martinsville Speedway, was confident his No. 60 Con-Way Toyota Tundra would be a stout machine on the race track following the practice sessions. The Wyler Racing team had tried a variety of set-ups during the practices. They had made track bar adjustments, spring changes and shock adjustments trying to find the perfect mix to produce a fast truck on the track. By the end of the second practice session, Sprague was second on the time sheet. However, Sprague and the No. 60 Con-Way Toyota drew the first spot in qualifying. The Wyler Racing team would be relegated to a 22nd-place starting position.
When the green flag waved, Sprague fell back to 24th-place but by Lap 10 he had regained the two spots he had lost. He reported to his Wyler Racing crew that the truck was very tight from the center off. Despite the tight condition, Sprague continued to make his move through the field. While attempting to move up to the 20th spot on the race track, another competitor pinched Sprague down on the race track making contact with the No. 60 Con-Way Toyota which sent the other truck spinning and brought out a caution on Lap 19. There was minimal damage from the contact, so Sprague continued on the race track.
Sprague retook the green flag on Lap 25 in 20th place. Sprague would move up a few positions but he reported to his crew that he needed some help in the handling of his Con-Way Toyota. By Lap 63 when the caution flag waved, Sprague was in 18th-place. The No. 60 Con-Way team came down pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. After a solid pit stop, Sprague returned to the track in the 20th spot.
Sprague hung around the top 20 over the next 40 laps. At Lap 101 another caution flag slowed the race with Sprague in 18th place. He reported to the Con-Way crew that he was still tight off. Sprague said he couldn't gain positions on the track because he couldn't pass anyone. He continued by telling his crew that it seemed like other drivers could get into the gas sooner than he could coming off the corner.
With other trucks pitting under the caution, Sprague moved up to 13th spot where he started when the green flag waved at Lap 107. By Lap 124, Sprague had made his way into the top 10 and crew chief Tony Furr told Sprague that they could stay on track for the rest of the race without another pit stop. With a steady hand behind the wheel, the No. 60 Con-Way Toyota Tundra made its way through the field. Sprague was in sixth place at Lap 148 when he started turning the fastest laps of the day.
But then bad luck struck the No. 60 Toyota -- under caution Sprague reported to the crew that a left rear tire was going flat. They would have to pit and give up the hard earned track position. The team came down pit road on Lap 152 for tires along with a shock and air pressure adjustment. Sprague restarted in 25th spot. He told the Con-Way crew that they would have to use every lap left in the race to catch back up, but he thought they would be okay in the end. In just eight laps, Sprague had picked up three positions and was in 22nd place.
At Lap 179, Sprague was 20th. He told his crew that his Con-Way machine was now loose of the corners. At Lap 187, the caution came out once again. Sprague told the team the loose condition was getting worse -- it was almost like he didn't have a left rear tire. The team pitted at Lap 189. They made another shock adjustment along with an air pressure adjustment to the left rear tire. Sprague returned to the track in 23rd-place. Slowly, Sprague was able to pass several trucks over the course of the next few laps. However, he would stay mired in traffic for the remainder of the race, finishing in 17th-place.
"This wasn't a good race for the No. 60 Con-Way Toyota," Sprague said. "I'm just glad that we won't have to worry about qualifying on time as much as we have had to these first four races since we are now guaranteed a spot in the field thanks to our point's position. We have been fast for each of these first four races but we have had some hard times these last two -- I am ready to turn around our luck and get those top finishes we all want."
The second straight 17th place finish for Sprague dropped him one spot in the overall driver's standings to the seventh spot.