Sprague, Team GMAC begin stretch run in Richmond RICHMOND, Va. (Sept 10, 1998) While many people are beginning to sense an undeniable hint of autumn in the air, No. 24 Team GMAC driver Jack Sprague is starting to smell the possibility of a...
Sprague, Team GMAC begin stretch run in Richmond
RICHMOND, Va. (Sept 10, 1998) While many people are beginning to sense an undeniable hint of autumn in the air, No. 24 Team GMAC driver Jack Sprague is starting to smell the possibility of a second straight championship. Sprague, who won the 1997 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series title by the largest margin (232 points) in circuit history, used an authoritative stretch run last year to help Rick Hendrick become the first car-truck owner to win two of NASCAR's three major championships in a single season.
"This is a great time of the year if you love to compete," said Sprague, who crushed his competitors last year with an average finish of 5.2 over the final five events. "Every guy on this Team GMAC crew lives for the competition. And believe me, when you get a taste of that first championship, it makes you want to go back and experience those feelings all over again."
Sprague and perennial rival Ron Hornaday, who have combined to win the last two NCTS championships, have continued their perpetual battle of "one-upsmanship" in 1998 by trading the series' points lead six times. Heading into Thursday's running of the Virginia is for Lovers 200 at Richmond International Raceway, Sprague trails Hornaday by a mere 26 points in the ongoing chase for first place.
"I'm happy with where we're at as far as points, but I'm not in any way satisfied," said Sprague, who has carried the No. 24 GMAC Financial Services/GM Protection Plan Chevrolet truck to victory lane three times this season. "I don't think you can ever be satisfied until you've accomplished the goals you set for yourself. When this all started way back in January, we raised the bar on our expectations for the 1998 season. Winning five races and becoming the first repeat champion is what will make me satisfied when it's all said and done."
Sprague will have to buck a historical trend that has seen the Labor Day points leader go on to win the NCTS championship in each of the circuit's three previous years. Last year at this juncture of the season, Sprague enjoyed considerably more breathing room (85 points) over eventual runner-up Rich Bickle than Hornaday has now with his 26-point cushion.
And nobody has proven to be a tougher competitor than Sprague down the stretch. The talented 34-year-old native of Spring Lake, Mich. boasts the best, post-Labor Day performance average (sixth) in NCTS history. When tensions are high and feelings get frayed as a championship beckons, Sprague has historically been at his very best.
"We've reached a point now where you can actually begin thinking in terms of a championship," Sprague said. "It starts to creep into your thoughts a little bit. I guess it's just that time of year and we're gonna go after it with everything we've got."
The truck circuit begins its final eight-race stretch with racing's version of a doubleheader. Thursday night's tilt at Richmond, Va., The Virginia is for Lovers 200, will be followed quickly by Sunday's first-ever event at Memphis Motorsports Park.
Source: NASCAR Online