Sprague Looks to Rebound at Nashville

Sprague looks for Nashville rebound NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Aug. 13, 1998) Should Jack Sprague, driver of the No. 24 GMAC Chevrolet, take his second checkered flag in as many years at Nashville Speedway USA in Saturday's NASCAR Craftsman Truck ...

Sprague looks for Nashville rebound

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Aug. 13, 1998) Should Jack Sprague, driver of the No. 24 GMAC Chevrolet, take his second checkered flag in as many years at Nashville Speedway USA in Saturday's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Federated Auto Parts 250, the Spring Lake, Mich., native will extend his 1998 series lead in short track wins to three.

But more importantly, after a rare DNF in last week's Stevens Beil/Genuine Car Parts 200 at Flemington Speedway, Sprague fell to third in the standings, behind another short track standout, Ron Hornaday, and veteran Joe Ruttman. Now, Sprague needs a strong run at Nashville to get his title defense back on track.

Contending for the win on the fast, high-banked short track seems strange for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series' most renowned "master of the mile," a man known as "Mile Track Jack" because he also owns the series record for most career victories on superspeedways, with eight.

And this from a guy who had never even tasted victory on a short track until Aug. 16, 1997. It was on that date, almost a year-to-the-day of this season's event, that Sprague proved he could succeed on a short strip by winning the Federated Auto Parts 250 under the lights at Nashville.

As the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series swings to Nashville for its 17th event on the 27-race schedule, Sprague savors the memory of that first short track victory and embraces the challenge of repeating as Federated Auto Parts 250 champion at the .596-mile oval in Tennessee.

"Personally that was my favorite win from last season," said Sprague, who rode the momentum of that victory all the way to the 1997 championship. "It was satisfying to know that we could win on that type of track. We've got two short-track wins now in 1998 and this No. 24 Team GMAC crew will work hard for a third on Saturday."

Sprague, who turned 34 this past Saturday, had little to celebrate after a ninth-lap incident with Barry Bodine and Wayne Anderson put the GMAC Financial Services Chevrolet truck behind the wall for nearly all of the race's first half. Sprague did return just prior to the mandatory halftime break, but a 29th-place finish dropped him from first to third in the standings.

"That's a tough deal to take especially when it happens so early in the race," said Sprague, who entered the event as the only driver to post top-five finishes in all three previous events at Flemington. "The longer you've been in this game, the more you understand what it takes to bounce back. This Team GMAC crew will be ready for Saturday's race in Nashville -- that much I can guarantee you -- and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see the GMAC Financial Services/GM Protection Plan Chevrolet in Victory Lane again."

That would not be an unfamiliar sight considering the fact that Sprague carried the No. 24 Chevrolet to victory twice in the first 15 days of GMAC's primary sponsorship, which was officially announced on July 15. It started with a fairytale first-place finish in Sprague's sponsor debut at California Speedway on July 18, a victory that saw him overcome both injury and accident to put the truck in Victory Lane on his first attempt.

Just 12 days later at Indianapolis Raceway Park, Sprague put his short-track prowess on display by winning the Cummins 200 presented by the Indiana Dodge Dealers, a victory that came on the heels of a 31st-place finish at Pikes Peak the week before.

So there's ample evidence to suggest that Sprague can rebound from adversity and win on a short track, a dual feat the veteran driver hopes to accomplish Saturday at Nashville.

Source: NASCAR Online

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Ron Hornaday Jr. , Jack Sprague , Joe Ruttman , Wayne Anderson