SPRAGUE DOMINANT IN FIRST VICTORY FOR YOUNG TEAM AND NEW SPONSOR "Three Time Series Champion Scores Record-Tying Pole And 26th Career Win" MILLINGTON, TENNESSEE (July 17, 2006) - Three time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Jack Sprague...
SPRAGUE DOMINANT IN FIRST VICTORY FOR YOUNG TEAM AND NEW SPONSOR
"Three Time Series Champion Scores Record-Tying Pole And 26th Career Win"
MILLINGTON, TENNESSEE (July 17, 2006) - Three time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Jack Sprague knew that a trip to Victory Lane was close for his No. 60 Con-way Freight team. The year-old team had been close several times, but luck hadn't been on their side.
But that all changed at Memphis Motorsports Park on Saturday night. Sprague and his Wyler Racing team scored their first pole of the year and backed their quick time up with the team's first ever trip to Victory Lane.
It was Sprague's first win since June 2005 at Texas, and he became the first driver to win two truck races at Memphis Motorsports Park. It was also the first win for his Wyler Racing team and sponsor Con-way Freight.
"We needed a win bad. I needed a win bad. We've been so close in this Con-way Freight Toyota three or four times but hadn't pulled it off," Sprague said.
"I'm just happy for David and Jeff Wyler, for Con-way Freight and the whole family because this is their first win. I've been here and done this before -- don't get me wrong, it's still great. But to get their first pole and first win in the same day is really something special."
Sprague started on the pole for the O'Reilly 200. It was his third pole at Memphis Motorsports Park and his 28th overall, tying him with Mike Skinner for the Series-high career pole record.
Sprague jumped out to a quick lead, nearly dominating the first 43 laps of the race. At Lap 44, Sprague was passed for the lead by Dennis Setzer. Sprague reported on the radio that his truck had become tight in the center as the laps progressed.
The tight-handling condition caused Sprague to fall back to fourth by Lap 60, when the second caution of the night waved.
Sprague brought the No. 60 Con-way Freight Toyota to the attention of his pit crew on Lap 62. The crew changed four tires, added fuel and made an air pressure and a track bar adjustment. The quick work by the pit crew put Sprague back out front as he restarted the race in first place.
Sprague once again looked to be the dominant truck as he put multiple competitors' one lap down. He led the field from lap 64 to lap 143. About midway through the run, Sprague again told crew chief Tony Furr that the No. 60 Toyota was getting tight in the center.
The No. 60 Con-way Freight Toyota lost the lead at lap 144. Sprague told his crew that the truck was also losing forward grip, which was making it difficult to drive.
Sprague had fallen to third place when the caution flag waved at lap 175. Sprague pitted for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. Sprague returned to the race track for the green flag at Lap 181 in third place, behind Terry Cook and rookie Erik Darnell.
With fresher tires than Cook, who had not pitted, it only took Sprague two laps to move into second place. Then the race was on between the young rookie Darnell and the wily veteran Sprague.
Patiently, Sprague hit his marks lap after lap on the race track, gaining ground on Darnell with each lap. At lap 193, Sprague passed Darnell and took over the lead for the final time.
"I wasn't going to hit him (Darnell) to win it -- and it's good that he didn't hit me," Sprague said. "He had raced me clean all night and all season and I knew I wasn't going to take him to out win.
"I got by him clean and he didn't take me out. That's all good."
Sprague and his Wyler Racing pit crew celebrated their first victory together on the Memphis Motorsports Park front stretch. The win came in Sprague's 19th start with Wyler Racing (14 in 2006 and five in 2005). The win was Sprague's 26th career NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series win.
"It's been a long time and I wanted it bad," Sprague said, "It's a new team, and we've been so close. But now they know what it feels like to win. The spring in the step is different and hopefully it will bring more.
"The guys did a great job. We had great pit stops tonight. It's a young team, and I think this will help us to build momentum for the rest of the year."
The victory moved Sprague and the No. 60 Con-way Freight Toyota team to seventh-place in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series points standings -- 100 points out of third place and 263 points behind leader Todd Bodine.
The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will take two weeks off and return to action on Friday, Aug. 4 at O'Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis for the Power Stroke Diesel 200.