SPRAGUE STRONG IN NEW CON-WAY COLORS AT GATEWAY "Late Transmission Problem Hurts Chances At Even Better Finish" Madison, Illinois (May 1, 2006) -- Jack Sprague thoroughly enjoys racing at Gateway International Raceway. Drivers agree that ...
SPRAGUE STRONG IN NEW CON-WAY COLORS AT GATEWAY
"Late Transmission Problem Hurts Chances At Even Better Finish"
Madison, Illinois (May 1, 2006) -- Jack Sprague thoroughly enjoys racing at Gateway International Raceway. Drivers agree that the odd-shaped track requires finesse for a top finish, and Sprague had just what it takes this weekend in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series as he piloted a newly-designed No. 60 Con-way Freight Toyota Tundra to a fourth-place finish.
"After the rain finally cleared and we got a chance to run practice, we knew the Wyler Racing Toyota was going to be stout," Sprague said. "Tony Furr (crew chief) and the guys gave me a great truck for the race. We had great pit stops and we had to battle through a few problems especially when we had a transmission problem near the end of the race that left us without third gear. But our truck was so strong we managed to come out of St. Louis with a Top Five. I think this could be the shot of confidence our team needed to get the No. 60 Con-way Freight Toyota to the front of the pack every week."
Sprague, who has a history of strong finishes at Gateway International Raceway, was confident the No. 60 Con-way Toyota Tundra would be one of the trucks to beat when the rain showers finally cleared the St. Louis area late Saturday afternoon. With rain scratching qualifying, the field was set by the 2006 owner's points. Sprague and the No. 60 Con-way Freight Toyota would start the 200 mile event from the seventh position. The teams were given just over an hour of practice prior to the start of the race, and Sprague proved his truck was tough by putting the No. 60 on the top of the board.
When the green flag waved, rain was still threatening so the teams would be keeping a close eye on the skies and the radar as the race neared the half-way point. Starting in seventh-place under heavy skies and even a sprinkle of rain, Sprague methodically moved up through the field. He was in fourth-place when the caution came out at lap seven. And when the race restarted, Sprague immediately picked up another position.
At Lap 12, Sprague reported that the No. 60 was tight off the corners. Over the next 15 laps, Sprague held his position on the track in the third spot. The caution flew again at Lap 29. Sprague told the team that he was tight behind the No. 30 truck, but the team elected not to pit so early in the race as there would be a NASCAR competition caution a little later in the race because of the lack of practice the field of trucks got during the weekend.
The race restarted at Lap 34. In five laps, Sprague had moved into the runner-up position. The NASCAR competition caution came out at Lap 44. With Sprague in second-place, the Wyler Racing team elected to come down pit road for four tires and fuel. Varying strategies on pit road meant that Sprague would return to the track in 12th-place.
At Lap 60, Sprague was in 10th-place. Sprague reported to the team that he thought they needed to add a round in the right rear during the next pit stop. After another couple of cautions, Sprague got his rhythm and began to move through the field again. Methodically, Sprague ticked off positions one-by-one. At Lap 72, Sprague had picked up four spots and was in sixth-place. He was registering the fastest times on the race track.
Sprague reported to the team that he thought the truck was pretty good at Lap 75. He was fourth on the race track.
By Lap 100, the No. 60 Con-way Freight Toyota was back up in second-place behind leader Todd Bodine. Sprague told the team he was getting too tight behind the truck in front of him again, so he needed to lay back and just be patient at this point in the race.
The caution waved again at Lap 104. The Wyler Racing team came down pit road to fix the tight condition that Sprague was fighting. The team took four tires, added fuel and made an air pressure and track bar adjustment. The team had another strong stop, but the varying pit stop strategy meant that Sprague would restart in 17th-place.
In 20 laps at Lap 123, Sprague had moved back into the top 10. When the caution came out one again at Lap 128, Sprague reported to the team that his transmission had broken and that he had lost third gear. But the bad news didn't dampen the team's determination to score a good finish at St. Louis.
Sprague struggled with transmission problems on the restart at Lap 130 as he lost a position on the track. Once the field got rolling though, Sprague was able to pick back up where he left off -- passing trucks one-by-one. At Lap 142 when the caution waved again, Sprague told his pit crew that the No. 60 Toyota Tundra would be ok but it just took him a while to get going with the transmission problems.
By Lap 153, Sprague had moved up to fourth-place, which he held until the checkered flag.
Despite rain, a record number of caution flags, a tight condition and transmission problems during the race, Sprague and the No. 60 Wyler Racing team remained steady and strong. The team finished fourth on the race track and moved up to fifth in the Series point's standings - 148 points behind leader Todd Bodine.
"All in all, it was a good day for this No. 60 Con-way Freight Toyota Tundra," Sprague said. "We were too tight during the race but we held our ground and we stayed focused on leaving here with a solid finish. I'm proud of these Wyler Racing team guys because we battled a lot of obstacles tonight. I think this is a sign that we are getting better and better every week, and it won't be long until we find victory lane."
The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series takes the next two weeks off. It will return to action on Friday, May 19 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. for the Quaker Steak & Lube 200 at 8:45 p.m. ET. The race can be heard on MRN and XM Satellite Radio and seen on SPEED.