The Frontstretch: Frontstretch Breakdown : O'Reilly 200 by Beth Lunkenheimer -- Sunday July 16, 2006

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Frontstretch Breakdown : O'Reilly 200

Beth Lunkenheimer · Sunday July 16, 2006

 

In a Nutshell: Jack Sprague got his first win this season and the 26th victory of his Crafstman Truck Series career Saturday night in the O’Reilly 200. Sprague, who took the lead with only 8 laps remaining, held off rookie Erik Darnell by 0.251 seconds. A late spin by Aric Almirola sent the race into overtime, and Sprague’s experience on restarts gave him the edge on the green-white-checkered finish to hold off the rookie and claim his first win for Wyler Racing. Matt Crafton finished third, with Ron Hornaday and Mike Bliss rounding out the Top 5.

Who Should Have Won: Dennis Setzer. Setzer had a pretty strong truck most of the night. Jack Sprague had the advantage on restarts, but on long green flag runs, Setzer had no problem catching him. During each round of pit stops, Setzer was also able to take the lead from Sprague with the quick work of his crew. Unfortunately for the 85 team, it was a late race pit road problem that ultimately cost them and Setzer a chance for a win. In a bizarre incident, Kevin Grubb’s pit sign ended up underneath Setzer’s truck and cost him a lot of time on pit road, dropping him to 10th in the final running order.

Two Questions to Ponder After this Weekend's Race:

1) Will Erik Darnell win this season?

Erik Darnell captured his career best finish Saturday evening when he finished runner up to Jack Sprague. Running strong all race and leading 11 laps late in the event, he just didn’t quite have enough to challenge Jack Sprague when the race went into overtime. Darnell now has 5 Top 10s in 14 races this season, currently leading the Rookie of the Year standings 115-99 over Chad McCumbee. He also has an average finish of 17.2 this season, the best of any currently eligible rookie, and now has put together back-to-back Top 10 finishes for the first time in his career. His talent level increasing at every event, it’s only a matter of time before the 99 Truck sees Victory Lane.

2) How well has baseball player Mike Greenwell adapted to the Truck Series so far?

Former Boston Red Sox outfielder, Mike Greenwell, made his second career start Saturday evening in the No. 08 Green Light Racing Chevy Silverado. He made his Truck Series debut in May at the Mansfield Motorsports Speedway, where Greenwell started 20th and finished a disappointing 26th, albeit on the lead lap. Saturday evening, he wasn’t as lucky. Greenwell spun out on lap five and struggled with the handling of his truck all night, finishing 33rd, four laps behind the leader. Needless to say, the two-time baseball all star seems to be struggling quite a bit this season. It’s hard to make a judgement on just two starts, but so far Greenwell doesn’t seem to proving himself on the race track.

Worth Noting/Points Shuffle:

Points leader Todd Bodine struggled to a 15th place finish Saturday, but still held tight to his points lead; he currently leads new second place point man David Reutimann by 117. Johnny Benson’s stay in 2nd was shortlived after being involved in two separate incidents on the night at Memphis; he finished three laps down in 32nd and fell to third in points, 163 back of Bodine. Rick Crawford moved up to 4th in points, while Ted Musgrave dropped back to 5th.

While Bodine has led the standings comfortably for most of the season, did you know that only three times in the history of the Craftsman Truck Series, the points leader at the halfway point of the season has won the championship? The last time it was done was by Greg Biffle in 2000.

Quotable:
“I didn’t want to move him late in the race to get the win. He passed me twice tonight and was clean both times. I’ve only raced with him a couple of times this season, so I didn’t know what to expect. I am sure he was up on the wheel trying his hardest to keep me back behind him. He did a great job here tonight, if he keeps it up he can have a long future in this sport.” Jack Sprague on racing rookie Erik Darnell for the lead

“We thought about it. But as a rookie you are trying to race with these guys and earn respect. I think you get a lot more from them racing them clean than hitting them. I didn’t want to win my first one by spinning someone out and wrecking them.” Rookie Erik Darnell when asked if he might have used his bumper to win the race

“We had such a good Truck tonight, and to lose the race in the way we did is very disappointing to all of us. We have really hoped and expected to do better this year, and tonight could have been the turning point. It’s been a tough year for us. We ran good all night, but the deal in the pits was just very unfortunate. I came in and the signboard for the 15 truck was down low, and they dropped it down underneath my truck when I came by. When they went to jack up the truck, it was caught up underneath there and when they tried to jack it up it slipped off. It’s very unfortunate, but it is good to have our truck being competitive again.” Dennis Setzer explaining his late race pit road mishap

Next Up: The Craftsman Truck Series now takes a three week summer break. They’ll race next at the short track of O’Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis on Friday, August 4th. Television coverage will be live on Speed Channel starting at 8:30 PM ET. The race will also be carried on your local MRN affiliate.

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