points lead at Pikes Peak
May 16, 1999
Mike Wallace and Jack Sprague put on an unforgettable finish
in Sunday's NAPA 300K at Pikes Peak International Raceway. But by the end of the year this
day could be remembered as the race where Ron Hornaday and Sprague took their familiar
spots in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series point standings.
Hornaday was admittedly out to lunch in qualifying, starting 24th on the grid despite
being the race's defending champion. But the wily veteran has forgotten more about driving
in this series than many of the young guns have learned, and he fought an uphill battle
all race long to finish sixth, while erstwhile points leader Stacy Compton suffered his
first problem of the year - engine trouble - and finished 28th.
The result is a familiar sight at the top of the NCTS standings - Ron Hornaday in first
and Jack Sprague in second.
"Not bad for what we had all day," said Hornaday, driver of the No. 16 NAPA Auto
Parts Chevrolet Silverado. "We qualified terrible and I had to pit under green and
got a lap down. I got the lap back and finished in the top six. We had a misunderstanding
there at the end of this deal where they put a truck in front of me. I got to the outside
and got the wall and knocked the toe out or we might have been able to finish a bit
better. We'll take sixth and it put us back in the points lead. We're getting this new
Silverado body figured out and this is only the beginning."
As for Sprague, he also leapfrogged Compton and now has only his familiar nemesis ahead of
him in the standings. Sprague trails Hornaday by 44 points after seven races.
"God almighty, we can't catch a break," said the driver of the No. 24 GMAC
Financial Services Chevrolet Silverado. Sprague had the field covered, leading by a full
lap (first time in series' history) before losing it all due to a couple of late cautions.
"This thing was awesome," he said. "We've been struggling all year trying
to figure this Silverado body out and I think we're going the right direction. The thing
was flawless all day & my right side tires had 100 laps on them and they had 10 or 20.
And I couldn't hold them.
"We are all here to win a championship and a day like today really hurts. When you
run ninth like we did last week at Memphis and we were junk and we knew we were junk, that
makes you mad. But to have a great piece of equipment and you can't get it done, that
hurts. 'Cause you know you're good and you've got a great truck.
"Our pit strategy was working perfectly & just the cautions at the end. You can't
ever guess what will happen, it just happens."
Maybe the fact that there is only that familiar face of Hornaday's to focus on now will
help Sprague in his drive for the championship. Now that the series' two biggest names are
squared off against one another at the top, there truly is no telling what will happen
from here on out.