Greg Biffle in a Ford won the Chevy Silverado 150 today but Jack Sprague will go to bed tonight comfortable in the knowledge that all he has to do is receive the green flag at the season-ending Auto Club 200 at California Speedway next weekend to...
Greg Biffle in a Ford won the Chevy Silverado 150 today but Jack Sprague will go to bed tonight comfortable in the knowledge that all he has to do is receive the green flag at the season-ending Auto Club 200 at California Speedway next weekend to clinch his third NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series crown, and the sixth for a Chevrolet driver in the series' seven years.
Sprague ended up second today in his NetZero Chevy Silverado in a race that ran nine laps over the 150 scheduled, after three consecutive caution periods beginning on lap 148 prevented the race from being checkered. The rules stipulate the race must end under the green.
Starting from second position, Sprague took off in the lead, with polesitter Stacey Compton and Rick Crawford close behind. Crawford moved into second by the third lap and into first on lap 13. Sprague retrieved the top spot two laps later as he and Crawford left the rest of the field in their wake until pit stops on lap 72. Following pit stops, third-place Biffle inherited second place from Crawford after Crawford overshot his pits and lost 11 positions.
The battle came down to Biffle and Sprague as Biffle passed Sprague for the lead on lap 80, which he never relinquished to the finish. Sprague got close, but couldn't make a pass stick, ending up .542 of a second behind Biffle.
The next Chevrolet finisher in the field was rookie Travis Kvapil, in ninth.
Sprague led 66 laps, Tom Carey 4, and Bobby Dotter 1, for a total of 71 laps led by Silverados.
JACK SPRAGUE, NO. 24 NETZERO SILVERADO (second, needs only to start the race next week in Fontana to clinch his third series' title): "I was worried because Crawford came in for tires and Greg and I didn't. The NetZero Chevrolet was awesome all weekend. I was a little loose off in the race, but I didn't want to mess with it because it was getting through the center pretty good. I could back off and run Greg down. I've raced with Greg a lot; I know what he's about. Not that he would do anything intentional, but he had nothing to lose. He wanted to win the race, and I had everything to lose. It's another points race. But I guess I can go to California and race now for the win."
IF YOU HAD BEEN IN FRONT WOULD YOU HAVE RACED HIM DIFFERENT: "He was better off the bat on new tires. If I could have been ahead of him I don't think he would have caught me because I was definitely a little better than he was. He had nothing to lose, he came here to win the race, I came here to win the championship. And it all worked out for everybody."
ON THE RESTARTS: "I think the restarts at the end of the race hurt me. I wasn't as near as good at Greg was on the restarts. I could get up to him after a few laps, but I just couldn't get by him. I thought I might be in tire danger because we wound up with a lot of laps on the right-side tires. The guys told me on the radio that if I just finished second, all we would have to do is start the race in California next week to win the championship. We had a great day and did what we had to do. It was a solid day for us. I had a great truck, this NetZero Chevrolet was of the best I have ever had here. I knew Greg would be good, he's always run good here. The bottom line was he was better than us on new tires. He was all over me and it made my truck real loose when he got behind me. Rather than take a chance, I let him go by. As the tires wore, I think my truck was better than his, but I didn't press it. He got a present today, he got a present. I knew what I had to do. If I had gone up there and fought with him, I might have got in the fence. If I would have done that, we wouldn't be sitting here in this good of shape." ON THE CHAMPIONSHIP: "The goal all along has been to win the championship - that's the goal of every team every year at Hendrick Motorsports," said Sprague. "Dennis (crew chief Dennis Connor) and I have been together for seven years and won three championships. The guys dug down deep and overcame a lot of adversity this season to win this thing. This is very satisfying."
TRAVIS KVAPIL, NO. 60 CAT RENTAL STORES SILVERADO (ninth, first rookie): "We dinged the fender a little bit on that early deal with 73. The truck for some reason was real loose. We decided to come in early to start work on it and get a head start on it, That (the incident with 73) didn't really hurt us, I don't think we anticipated the track loosening up as much as it did. The Cat Rental Silverado was just terrible loose, didn't have any grip. It couldn't get off the corners. We kept working on it, pitting with it, and making adjustments. We got back up to ninth, and with the way the truck was handling we were pretty happy with that, I guess."
ANY NUDGING OUT THERE?: "There was some good racing out there. I think everyone was sliding around, bouncing off each other, bouncing off the wall. It looked like everybody was pretty loose, sliding around, didn't have any grip. Everybody was just doing all they could to be courteous and race as hard at the same time. That was pretty tough to do. They all gave me plenty of room to race. Everybody in this truck series seems to race pretty well. If you're faster and you come up to them they give you room to race. We brought it home to one piece and we'll go to California and hopefully take Rookie of the Year."
RICK CARELLI, NO. 6 RE/MAX/CAT RENTAL STORES SILVERADO (11th): "I was pretty impressed. We were a little loose at first, we kept working on it. Last night we thought we were pretty decent. The guys did good pit stops, the motor ran great, the truck did good. We came here and accomplished what we wanted to. We wanted to get into the top 10.
Unfortunately, if we had a couple more laps we might have gotten up there. I think there was three of us (Chevys) right there in a row, the 60, the 52 and us. And Jack was the only one (Chevy) up there. I'm happy with it. It's all in one piece."
TIGHT RACING OUT THERE: "There was a lot of good racing. Phoenix promotes that. Phoenix is a great race track. It's a lot about position here and being able to use the throttle. Everyone has worked for so many years on getting the truck to turn real good, but you've got to realize you need good throttle leaving. That's what I was trying to get last night. Unfortunately, I didn't get enough of it."
MATT CRAFTON, NO. 88 XESIGHTING SYSTEMS SILVERADO (15th): "We started off with a decent truck and it just went away really bad on us. We never really had a handle on it. We finished the race, we weren't really happy with it."
WHAT HAPPENED WITH O3: "When Lance (Norick) blew the right front tire I went to the bottom and I got underneath the 03 and he came across me and I hit the flat down there in 3 and 4 and I shot across the track and I hit him and spun him. That was just a racing deal."
LANCE NORICK, NO. 90 AVENTIS BEHRING SILVERADO (16th): "The guys gave me an awesome truck today. We had a problem in qualifying, had to start 27th. I think by the 20th lap in we were all the way up to 15th, 14th, worked our way to fifth. The truck was awesome. I must have picked up something and cut down the right front tire with about four or five laps to go. It's too bad 'cause we were running fifth and faster than the guys behind me, running with the leaders. It was a good run for us from 27th to fifth. We'll go to California and give Coy a race for the money for the 10th spot."
1RICKY HENDRICK, NO. 17 GMAC SILVERADO (18th): "It's one of those deals. You qualify in the back and you get caught up in an incident. Somebody wrecked or somebody got a throttle hung up or something like that and all I saw was smoke and somebody went high. And when it went high I was told to go low and I saw low clear too. I went low and as soon as I came out of the smoke, he came back down the track and when he came back down he was right there in front of me. I was trying to get out of the way but there was nothing I could do. We've had our share of avoiding a lot of them and we've had our share of not avoiding some. That was the third time this year that we've had a wreck and finished about 20th or worse and it hurts us; it hurts us to have these finishes. Some of these guys out here have not had a whole lot of bad luck. We've had a roller coaster. We've had our good and we've had our bad. It's part of the deal. I know this won't be the last time. We haven't lost anything. We're still the same in rookie standings, still the same in points. I think sixth is locked up as long as we start next weekend"
DENNIS SETZER, NO. 46 ACXIOM/COMPUTER ASSOCIATES SILVERADO (29th): "We had a good truck, we just cut a tire down down the front straightaway and just got into the wall going into 1. We had a good truck all day. We were running third comfortably, maybe we were catching Sprague and Biffle a little bit at one time. It's just an unfortunate deal when you don't get a chance to race them at the end. The tire didn't have 30 laps on it. The damage was quite a bit. It got the front part of the chassis. Once we get it back to the shop in Oklahoma, cut the front off and put a new snout on it, we'll be running it first thing next year."
1COY GIBBS, NO. 20 MBNA SILVERADO (31st): "I was racing Kenny Schrader. There was a lapped truck on the bottom and Kenny just door-jammed me. Then I had a shot to pass him later on, so I bumped him a little bit and got by him, and then he bumped me head first into the wall in 3 and 4. I had to do what I had to do." HOW WAS THE RACE OTHERWISE? "We were all right to start with, then the Sivlerado went away; we were really loose. Then it came back, we made changes and they made it a little better. I thought we could have hung with the pack at least before it started falling off, but then we got stuffed. We weren't great. I think we could have worked on it through the day."