BUSCH: Same Heavyweights, Different Division

Same heavyweights, different division By Brett Borden LAS VEGAS (Feb. 29, 2000) This town loves a good fight. But what it really loves is a rematch. Ron Hornaday and Jack Sprague put on one of the classic racing battles in recent history two ...

Same heavyweights, different division By Brett Borden

LAS VEGAS (Feb. 29, 2000) This town loves a good fight. But what it really loves is a rematch. Ron Hornaday and Jack Sprague put on one of the classic racing battles in recent history two years ago in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. They were trading paint, not punches, and the only gloves they had on were the fire-retardant kind preferred by race car drivers.

Their duel in the desert produced more plot twists than any show on the Vegas strip. Sprague won the battle (the race), Hornaday won the war (the championship, by three points), but the fans may have been the biggest winners of all.

That was then. This is now. Things have been jumbled up since, with Hornaday now chasing the point crown in the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division. Sprague still travels the NCTS circuit, but he has time now and then to give his old buddy Hornaday a run for his money in the NASCAR Busch Series.

He'll try to get that chance again Saturday in the Sam's Town 300 at the 1.5-mile LVMS oval -- with or without the benefit of testing.

"We didn't get a chance to test our car at Las Vegas," said Sprague, who will be piloting the No. 15 Albertsons Chevrolet. "But if there was going to be a track I wouldn't get the opportunity to run at before the first practice I'm glad that it's Vegas. This speedway has been one of my best tracks in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. I've won two out of the four races there. I know how to run at Las Vegas and the rest is up to the car and the crew."

As for Hornaday, he has a whole new series to adjust to, so it's nice to come to a track that has been so good to him as well.

"Las Vegas is a track that has a lot of great memories for me," said the driver of the No. 3 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet. "We won the NCTS championship at this track in 1996 and 1998, so my greatest accomplishments in racing have happened here. The minute we pull into the infield I get goosebumps."

There have been a lot of bumps between these two over the years. In this grudge match, the combatants have grudgingly become friends, but it is a friendship that has been tested several times. On many an occasion, they have gone weeks without speaking to each other.

Will that rivalry spill over into a new division? We will see on Saturday. Hornaday is seventh in points in his new series, so he'll probably have too many eyes on the drivers ahead of him in the standings to spend much time watching Sprague. Hornaday says this new division has an advantage over the old one.

"In the truck, the nose really pushes coming off the corners," he said. "But the car turns better because it has a sleek nose, so that will be a nice change. The speeds are fairly close between the trucks and these Busch cars, maybe only three-four mph different, so we feel pretty good about our chances."

If it comes down to Hornaday and Sprague again on Saturday, chances are we'll see another great finish. It always seems to wind up that way with these two.

-nascar.com-

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Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Ron Hornaday Jr. , Jack Sprague