BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - In much the same fashion he did last year, ...
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - In much the same fashion he did last year, #24 Team GMAC driver Jack Sprague is continuing his climb up the points ladder after a slow start to the season.
On the heels of Saturday's second-place finish at Phoenix, Sprague moved from 12th to 8th in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Championship standings, marking his second straight upward movement since a 33rd-place finish to begin the season at Daytona. Last year, Sprague rebounded from a 22nd-place effort in the opening race at Homestead by ascending progressively into the points lead just over two months later.
Items of note heading into Sunday's Dodge California 250 at Mesa Marin Raceway (ESPN2: 7 p.m. EDT, delayed):
Sprague completed all 301 laps en route to a seventh-place finish at Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield, Calif., last year. It was the sixth consecutive time that Sprague went the full distance in Bakersfield. He is the only NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competitor to have completed all 1,526 laps run at Mesa Marin.
The 35-year-old Mich. native had the #24 GMAC Financial Services Chevrolet on the lead four times in last year's race for a total of 21 laps. Sprague and Mike Wallace are the only truck series competitors to lead more than one race in Bakersfield.
Sprague counts six consecutive top-10 finishes at the half-mile oval in Bakersfield. The two-time and defending NCTS Champion's average finish at Mesa Marin is 5.67.
Only two drivers have competed in all six NCTS events at Mesa Marin: Sprague and Rick Carelli.
Chevrolet, which leads the 2000 Manufacturers' Championship chase by two points over Ford (21-19), has won five of the six NCTS races held at Mesa Marin Raceway.
SPRAGUE'S THOUGHTS HEADING INTO SUNDAY'S MESA MARIN RACE:
"It's not healthy to look back at any one race and say, 'Man, if only we had done this or if only we had done that,'" Sprague said, reflecting on the season opener at Daytona. "What's in the past is there to stay. I'm just excited about the way Team GMAC has rebounded over the last month. I know if we keep performing the way we're capable of performing, then we'll be in contention for another championship."
Added Sprague, "But it's a long, long road to the end of the season. That's why Bakersfield is the only thing on my mind right now. We've been good, not great at Mesa Marin in the past. Steady, I guess you'd say. But, I'm aching for a victory now and hopefully Sunday will be our day to break through."
<pre> Jack Sprague Career Record at Mesa Marin Raceway Year Event Start Finish Laps Money Won Status 1999 Dodge Truck Stop 300 6 7 301/301 $8,745 Running 1998 Dodge Truck 300 10 2 300/300 19,655 Running 1997 Dodge Truck 300 10 10 300/300 6,750 Running 1996 Ford Dealers 300 5 5 300/300 8,625 Running 1995 Ford Credit 125 5 6 125/125 3,700 Running Spears Mfg. 200 19 4 200/200 5,850 Running