Jack Sprague did all he could to put a Silverado into the winner's circle at the Chevy Silverado 200, but he couldn't chase down two Fords, which clearly had the edge on this one-mile track. Sprague's last chance to taste victory came on lap 198...
Jack Sprague did all he could to put a Silverado into the winner's circle at the Chevy Silverado 200, but he couldn't chase down two Fords, which clearly had the edge on this one-mile track. Sprague's last chance to taste victory came on lap 198 of the 200-lap race, after he, in third, and fourth-place Rick Crawford were the only trucks on the lead lap to pit for fresh tires under the third and final caution period from laps 195 to 197. With only four trucks on the lead lap, Sprague and Crawford returned to the race in the same positions. On the restart for the final two laps, Sprague made a failed attempt to pass second-place Terry Cook and could only hold off another Ford, Crawford's, to hang on to third place. Greg Biffle claimed his first win of the year, and the first for Ford.
This was Sprague's 10th top-five finish of the year, and it moved him closer to the front in the championship point standings. The Dodges of Joe Ruttman and Scott Riggs (in front of him in the standings) were ninth and 13th today. It was enough to put Ruttman into the top spot and drop Scott Riggs into second. Sprague held on to third, and is now only seven points out of second and 20 short of the lead. It's anyone's championship, with six races left.
The two-time series champion Sprague had a scare after a routine pit stop on lap 143 under the second caution period. Two laps later, while the field was still under yellow, Sprague, in third, was back in the pits with a flat tire. A quick change by the NetZero Platinum crew, and since there were only four trucks on the lead lap ever since lap 114, he fell back only to fourth place. By lap 154 he was back up to third spot, which he held to the finish.
Three caution periods for 15 laps was a new record at Nazareth Speedway for fewest cautions and fewest laps under caution. It's also the first truck race to average over 100 mph here (108.778 mph).
Sprague, who qualified third, continues to be the strongest Silverado qualifier, as his qualifying average for the last 10 races is 2.0. He has not qualified out of the top 10 all season.
The Rookie of the Year chase has also tightened up, as Ricky Hendrick closed back in on points leader Travis Kvapil with his fifth-place finish today. Kvapil, who lost 35 laps to repair a broken rear gear, ended up 24th after running as high as fourth, but still maintains first in the standings, but only by five points.
Four Silverados finished in the top 10, which also included Billy Bigley in seventh, and Lance Hooper, in the County Building Silverado, in 10th.
JACK SPRAGUE, NO. 24 NETZERO PLATINUM SILVERADO (third):
DID YOU NEED A FEW
"Maybe one more lap and I would have gotten the 29 (Cook), but I wasn't going to get the 99 (Biffle). The guys did a great job on the NetZero Platinum Silverado, but NASCAR has given them (the Fords) the world and it's hard to keep up with them at certain race tracks. But we'll get them. Fortunately this was one of our luckier days. I knew that Terry and Greg were strong and I knew what I was up against. I couldn't hardly run with them all day long and my truck kept getting looser and it hadn't been loose since I've been here and I didn't know what the deal was. We came in for the last pit stop, changed right sides, went out and I weaved the truck around and I could tell I had a left rear flat. It had a slow leak and I don't know how long it had been leaking. It certainly was probably why I was getting loose. So we changed the left rear and now my left front is older than dirt and my three other tires are new and it plowed like a dump truck. The last caution came out and then the green/white/checker. I had a feeling Crawford would come, he had nothing to lose, so I came too. I figured at least I needed to hold Crawford back; I didn't know if I had anything for Terry or Greg. The first lap I just tried o get a little distance on Crawford so if I screwed up a little bit he wouldn't get me. I tried to get Terry at the end but just had 50 foot too short."
SETTING UP FOR A GOOD RUN AT THE END?
"I wasn't that good. This is the loosest I've been in a couple of years. I was turning the steering wheel right on every corner. Just miserably loose. We'd have been a little better off if we could've led a lap pointswise, but we gained on both of them (Joe Ruttman and Scott Riggs, 1-2 in points), that's all you could ask for. The way my truck was, it was pretty tight in the center and I just couldn't get any forward bite coming off; it was extremely loose. It's just the way it went. I finished where I ran all day, gained some points."
THE DODGES' LACKLUSTER PERFORMANCE:
"(Ted) Musgrave was running pretty good at the end. He was running with Ricky a lot there. I was watching them. I don't have any clue. You have to look at the whole picture. There are only three of them that run worth a darn anyway, and all three of them had a bad day. But they won the last two races so I particularly don't want to hear them crying about anything. These guys (pointing to Terry Cook who drives a Ford) got a nose on their truck and they're far and away better on downforce than the Dodge and the Chevy, and he'll tell you that. It showed up today. Certain race tracks are going to cater to certain bodies. This was not a Chevrolet day and it was a Ford day. The last two weeks have been Dodge days. I don't want to hear nothing about it."
RICKY HENDRICK, N0 17 GMAC SILVERADO (fifth, first rookie): "The guys did a great job yesterday. The GMAC Silverado ran in front all day. I wish we didn't get a lap down and that last caution didn't come out because I think we could have been third, no problem. We were pulling away from a couple of the leaders."
YOU'RE NOT EVEN SWEATING:
"I'm young, I work out, so we're good."
WHAT DID YOU THINK WHEN YOU SAW KVAPIL GO INTO THE GARAGE?
"Honestly, I didn't hear until I got out of the truck. It was one of those deals. I don't just race Travis, I race everybody. There's no particular grudge against Travis at all. Travis is a great guy. We race very hard together, especially in the beginning of the race. It was just one of those deals. We got a lap down. We never could get our lap back, and once we got one lap down we could run right with the leaders, but it didn't mean anything. I was thinking when it was 10 to go just before the caution came out, if we were on the lead lap I think the worst we would have finished was third. I don't think anybody could have played with us. The Fords were awesome in 3 and 4. I was trying, sliding sideways, doing everything I could do to go with them; it just wasn't working. We had a good day. I'm a rookie, my team's a rookie, and I got a rookie crew chief, so we're learning. It's out first time here and to come out with a top five I'm not going to cry about that."
BILLY BIGLEY, NO. 75 SPEARS MANUFACTURING SILVERADO (seventh): "We had a really good day. The first set (of tires) it just got real tight. From then on we changed rights and made an adjustment and it just wasn't quite enough. We were under the green for so long. We finally came in and got lefts there at the end. We had abused the right front tires so bad it still just pushed. It was a little slick at first and then it ended up pushing real bad. We had two bad races in the last two weeks. We finally finished one and finished in the top 10." ON THE FORDS: "They're pretty awesome today; that's all I can say. But Biffle drives a hard race. My hat's off to him, he did a great job. We just have to see what happens. We'll work on it and see what we can do."
DENNNIS SETZER, NO. 46 ACXIOM/COMPUTER ASSOCIATES SILVERADO (15th): "It just was an unfortunate day. We didn't bend anything up. We just had a few misfortunes. We had to pit under the green a couple of times. We got out of synch. We got messed up and had some tire problems and had to pit under the green early and messed around and got caught later and had to pit under the green again. With the green flag pit stops it's hard to come back." ON THE FORDS: "Man, those Fords were pretty awesome, weren't they? I think NASCAR's got them definitely very competitive right now. We'll leave it at that."
LANCE NORICK, NO. 90 AVENTIS BEHRING CHOICE SILVERADO (21st): "We had some major problems. We think we broke a rear gear. It was undriveably loose. It's too bad. These guys worked so hard this week. We were fast, one of the fastest trucks here the first of the weekend. I think right off the bat we broke a ratchet in the rear gear and the thing was undriveably loose. We just kind of hung on all day and tried to make laps. We're pretty close on some points with some people so we figured we needed to get all the points we could, so that's what we did."
MATT CRAFTON, NO. 88 XESIGHTING SYSTEMS SILVERADO (22nd): "We had a real good truck. Then we got into three, after we got into three they said there was a little bit of oil down there. We got into there, locked the front tires up and then it decided to go around on me and crashed. That's all there was to it. We came back out and tried to soldier around. I had been complaining. The leader was coming up on me, probably a half a straightaway behind me at that point and I told them the lap before that there was oil on the track. I felt like somebody in front of me was leaking oil. He was definitely smoking. I think it was 00. Finally, my spotter said right when I went in there that they were calling on the radio there might be oil in 3. We think it might have been, but it was one of those deals."
TRAVIS KVAPIL, NO. 60 CAT RENTAL STORES SILVERADO (24th, still leads rookie points):
"We broke a rear gear. It's one of those things that happen, I guess. No big deal, really. It's disappointing though. We had a decent truck. We were really struggling to keep it on the lead lap when we were struggling around in sixth or seventh. We needed to get in and make some adjustments. Things like that break; gears break; that's just part of racing I guess. The truck was way too loose in the beginning. We just didn't have any grip off the corners. We needed a yellow to come in and make some adjustments on it. Looking back on it nothing really would have mattered. That would have broke no matter where we were running. That's one of those days."