Polesitter JACK SPRAGUE/#60 Con-way Freight Toyota won the Chevy Silverado HD 250 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race Friday night at Daytona International Speedway by 0.031 seconds in a photo finish - the eighth closest finish in Truck history. In a last lap, last turn spurt, Sprague, who was running third at the time, took the high line on leader TRAVIS KVAPIL/#6 Roush Racing Ford and JOHNNY BENSON/#23 Toyota Used Vehicles Toyota and edged past them for the finish. Benson took the low line and finished a close second ahead of Kvapil who fell to third, all running three-wide across the stripe.
Sprague led five times for 16 laps.
Sprague's new fiancee got a double treat at her first ever race - seeing Sprague earn his thirtieth pole position and win his twenty-eighth Truck race. Sprague, a three-time Truck Series champion, is going for 32 poles so he could equal or surpass the record set by MIKE SKINNER/#5 Toyota Tundra, who finished fourth. Sprague's victory brought him a record $93,375 purse.
Sprague said "To win Daytona is an absolute shock. I never would pick that I would win on a super-speedway. That just totally blows my mind because I'm not the greatest drafter in the world. Tonight I took my time. Seemed to me like maybe I'm realizing that patience is huge because the last few times I've done this restrictor plate stuff or Speedway stuff, I've been patient, it's worked out well. Just never dreamed I would win at Daytona. "This is still the most awesome win that I've ever been able to accomplish." When asked if he thought he would take the chequered flag, Sprague said "Dude, I didn't know if I was going to wreck before the chequered flag. I've done that enough, too."
Finishing fifth was TODD BODINE/#30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota. Sixth place finisher, JOEY CLANTON/#09 Zaxby's Ford was the top Rookie. The top Chevy in the Chevrolet-sponsored race was newbie CALE GALE/#2 Camping World, racing for KEVIN HARVICK. This was Gale's first-ever Truck race, his first race at Daytona or on a superspeedway. Finishing right behind him was his team-mate, RON HORNADAY, 1996 & 1998 Truck Champion.
In the top five all but Benson are past Truck Series champions. Seven of the nine Truck champions in the twelve-year series were in the Daytona race. The others were the 2005 Champion TED MUSGRAVE/#9 Team ASE Toyota in ninth place, and the 2002 Champion MIKE BLISS/#40 Curtis Key Plumbing Chevrolet who was hit and DNF for twenty-third place.
The champions in the top five and their years were:
Sprague - 2001 & 1999 & 1997
Kvapil - 2003
Skinner - 1995
Bodine - 2006
When asked about the Veterans in the Truck Series, Sprague said "You know, this is a feeder series. Your late models at your local tracks are a feeder series, your Busch Grand National is a feeder series. I mean there is nobody questioning the fact that Nextel Cup is the top tier racing in the world. Okay, but the Truck Series has a lot of champions and a lot of veterans that enjoy doing this and don't want the rigorous schedule of 38, 40 weekends a year."
MARK MARTIN is one veteran NASCAR driver who wholeheartedly agrees. He said Friday that he's really enjoying racing in the Truck Series and scaling back on the gruelling Nextel Cup schedule. "Racing in the Truck Series is fun." Martin couldn't stop smiling this week at Daytona. This weekend isn't one of his scheduled Truck races, but they will come.
Hornaday is another driver in agreement. He said "I just watched that race with JAMES HYLTON (the 72-year old driver who attempted to qualify for the Daytona 500) and I have another 24 years of racing. So Kevin, you have to keep a truck underneath me for another 24 years, although he might go broke doing that by then."
The only missing Champion in the Truck race was GREG BIFFLE from 2000.
Another past Truck champion was remembered with a moment of silence before the race - the late BOBBY HAMILTON, the 2004 Champion who died last month from cancer. In the Pre-Race ceremonies, both Hamilton and the late BENNY PARSONS, who also died last month from cancer.