Mooresville, NC -- February 8, 2004 -- Without question, the team carrying the most momentum into the 2004 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season is the ...
Mooresville, NC -- February 8, 2004 -- Without question, the team carrying the most momentum into the 2004 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season is the #16 IWX Racing Chevy Trucks Silverado team. The fact that the team, under the direction of Team Manager Dave Fuge, has won back-to-back championships in the highly competitive series is impressive enough in its own right. Now, with the addition of the only three-time series champion, Jack Sprague, to handle the driving duties and full support of Chevrolet adding the Chevy Trucks Silverado colors to the equation, the competition has more reason to be nervous. The 2004 season kicks off Friday, February 13, 2004 at Daytona International Speedway for the running of the Florida Dodge Dealers 250.
"Our focus and preparation is the same as it has always been," Fuge stated. "As a team, we work to prepare everything within our control to put a truck on the grid that will finish every lap, lead races and win. When you have that type of consistency, you give your driver the confidence needed to focus on the dynamics of the race as it unfolds. With Chevy Trucks and Jack (Sprague) now a part of our equation, we have virtually every resource we could ask for to take us to our third championship."
Fuge and company has every reason to be proud of their previous accomplishments including the fact, the team championships have been won with different drivers. An impressive record that included six wins, 14 top-fives and 19 top-ten finishes took the team and driver Mike Bliss to the head table at the 2002 NCTS season-ending banquet. In 2003, with a record of one win, 13 top-five and 22 top-ten finishes, Travis Kvapil celebrated the team's second consecutive championship following the season finale at Homestead Speedway.
In 2003 they set a series record for completing the most miles in a season, falling only 0xda6ce short of completing the total possible miles. In addition, despite the odds not being in their favor to repeat as NCTS team champions as they unloaded in Homestead, the IWX Silverado team did exactly what they had to do in order to capture the top prize.
Kvapil was in the third points position, 34 points down from the points' leader, Brendan Gaughn, after a ninth place finish at Phoenix when the trucks hit the track at Homestead. An accident put Gaughn out of the race early tossing the championship up for grabs to be decided between Kvapil, Dennis Setzer and Ted Musgrave. Musgrave looked to be locked into a sure championship celebration only to have a late race penalty for passing on the left prior to the green flag on the last restart of the race throw the season-ending tally into a tailspin again before the fall of the checkered flag. With fellow Chevrolet Silverado driver Setzer running behind him, Kvapil held on to the sixth place finishing position he needed to wrap up the title.
Previous Daytona finishes for the IWX Racing team include a run to the finish line in 2003 to claim the second place spot from the seventh starting position. The 2002 race wasn't as positive despite starting third, as an engine failure ended the day for the team on lap 34.
Now enter Sprague. His credentials speak for themselves. In addition to being the only three-time NCTS champion, 1997, 1999 and 2001, he is the leading money winner exceeding $4 million in winnings. Other benchmarks of his remarkable NCTS career include only driver to start all 170 events as full-time competitor 1995-2001. He holds series records for total top-five and top-ten finishes, laps completed, miles completed, miles led, most lead lap finishes and most races running at finish.
"This IWX team knows how to win," said Sprague. "We have access to the depth of the GM Racing arsenal as the Chevy Trucks sponsored Silverado. As a driver, I couldn't ask for a better opportunity. Dave (Fuge, team manager) and Chris (Showalter, crew chief) have years of experience in the Truck Series, which establishes the ability for us to communicate right out of the box. We all have great experience racing and winning in the Chevrolet Silverado. I am looking forward to a great season.
"We tested very well at both Daytona and Talladega in January so I am feeling pretty confident about the package we have going into Daytona. Our Chevy Trucks Silverado is going to race very well. My finishes in the two previous Daytona races haven't been what I would have liked. In 2000 we got caught up in an accident early that got us the 33rd finishing spot. 2001 was a little better, in that we were running in the lead pack on the last lap finishing 12th but not good enough.
"This team finished second last year in a run to the flag for the win so they have done the homework. This year, we have everything we need to have our Chevy Trucks Silverado up front and running for the win when the white flag waves. We have to make sure we do everything we can to avoid the wrecks and be there to make a run for the win. But then, that is the same formula you have to have every race."
IWX Racing is based in Mooresville, NC. The team is owned by Steve Coulter and has enjoyed continuous sponsorship from IWX Motor Freight from its inception in 1996. For up-to-the-minute information on Jack Sprague and the IWX Racing Chevy Trucks Silverado team, log on to www.jacksprague.com.