FOUNTAIN, CO (May 13, 2001) - There are few tracks on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series circuit that haven't seen a visit to Victory Lane by Jack Sprague. One of those is Pikes Peak International Raceway, site of the next event on the 2001...
FOUNTAIN, CO (May 13, 2001) - There are few tracks on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series circuit that haven't seen a visit to Victory Lane by Jack Sprague. One of those is Pikes Peak International Raceway, site of the next event on the 2001 NCTS tour. According to the two-time Truck Series champion, he's been close to a victory on the one-mile PPIR oval.
"We have run well at Pikes Peak every time we've raced there with the exception of the first race in 1998," said Sprague, driver of the No, 24 NetZero Platinum Chevrolet Silverado fielded by Hendrick Motorsports. "We just didn't have the place figured out the first time there and then we broke a valve spring during the race. Other than that," I think we've performed very well at Pikes Peak. We were good enough to win the last two races there. It just didn't play out that way."
The record indicates Sprague has indeed run well on the one-mile Pikes Peak track posting a second-place finish in 1999 in addition to last year's fourth-place finish.
"We were really good at the start of last year's race," said Sprague. "I knew we were going to be really good the day before in Happy Hour. During the race, I was along side Greg Biffle (last year's winner) a number of times racing for the lead but just could never get it done. We had a good run, second and third all day, and finally finished up fourth. We got a little loose at the end of the race and that cost us a couple of spots, but it was still a solid day for us."
As strong as Sprague was in the 2000 NCTS event at Pikes Peak, the veteran driver counts the 1999 NAPA 300 K Truck Series race at PPIR in the 'one that got away' column.
"We wore them out, lapped the field under green flag conditions," said Sprague. "Then at the end, we had a couple of cautions we didn't need and that allowed everyone to catch up. Our tires were gone by then and that cost us the race. We had a bad fast truck that year and really deserved to win the race, not finish second."
This year, Sprague's red, white and blue NetZero Platinum Chevy is a strong favorite to capture the Truck Series title, an honor Sprague and Hendrick Motorsports earned in both 1997 and 1999. A strong run at Pikes Peak will go a long way in helping Sprague to achieve that record third NCTS championship.
"The Pikes Peak track is tough to get around, kind of shaped like an egg," said Sprague. "Turns 1 and 2 are tighter than Turns 3 and 4. You've got to handle well to get through the corners and you have to have a lot of steam to get down the straight aways. The key is to handle well and stay on the bottom of the corners all day long. If you can do that, you're probably going to be in line for a win or a good finish at Pikes Peak."
The Jelly Belly 200 at Pikes Peak International Raceway will take the green flag at 4 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time and will be telecast live by ESPN. The seventh race of the 2001 NCTS 24-event schedule will also be broadcast live by MRN radio.