The Frontstretch: Frontstretch Breakdown : Kroger 200 by Beth Lunkenheimer -- Sunday October 22, 2006

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Frontstretch Breakdown : Kroger 200

Beth Lunkenheimer · Sunday October 22, 2006

 

In A Nutshell: Jack Sprague finally got the proverbial monkey off his back Saturday afternoon in Martinsville. In his thirteenth career start, he finally took a checkered flag at a track that’s given him more than his share of bad luck through the years, finishing 0.416 seconds ahead of the Martinsville spring race winner David Starr to take the win. Erik Darnell, Mark Martin and Johnny Benson rounded out the Top 5.

Who Should Have Won: Sprague. Jack Sprague started on the pole in the Kroger 200 and had a fast truck all afternoon. He took the lead when Ted Musgrave was black flagged on a restart with 61 laps remaining, and was virtually unchallenged after that. Sprague went on to lead 95 of the 200 laps.

Two Questions You Should Be Asking After this Weekend’s Race:

1) Could Ted Musgrave have won the race Saturday afternoon?

Ted Musgrave, black flagged for an improper restart, was forced to relinquish the lead late in the race Saturday afternoon. It was definitely clear that Musgrave slowed down and bunched up the field behind him just in time for him to hit the gas for the green flag. That type of brake-checking, of course, is not allowed by NASCAR’s rules, and Musgrave didn’t do it just once but twice; he was well deserving the penalty. Little did he know that the simple brake check would cost him not only the lead, but his chance for the win.

2) After his double duty at Martinsville this weekend, has David Ragan shown that he’s ready to make the jump from the Truck Series to Nextel Cup?

David Ragan raced in the both the Craftsman Truck Series and the Nextel Cup Series this weekend at Martinsville. Ragan finished a mediocre 20th in the Truck race Saturday afternoon, and followed it up with a 25th in the Cup race. He was involved in three different accidents by the time the checkered flag flew Sunday afternoon, the worst of which took Ken Schrader out of the race. His driving was so poor at one point during the Cup event, Tony Stewart mentioned that Ragan should have been parked during the race. It’s clear that Ragan just isn’t quite ready to make the jump, and should remain in the Craftsman Truck Series for awhile where he can gain more experience.

3) Should Mark Martin still be allowed to race the No. 6 Scotts Ford during the 2007 season?

Following the announcement that Mark Martin would be leaving Roush Racing for MB2 Motorsports in Nextel Cup during the 2007 season, suddenly Martin’s 2007 Truck Series season became questionable. Still, his 2006 Truck season keeps rolling along; Martin got his 9th Top 5 in 11 races Saturday afternoon, keeping him in the Top 20 in Truck points despite running only 11 of 21 races. Of those 9 Top 5s, four of them were wins; in fact, the lowest Mark’s finished in any Truck race this year was 13th. He’s been virtually unstoppable in that No. 6 truck, and because of that, Ford would be wise to allow Martin to run it in 2007, despite the obvious conflicts.

Worth Noting/Points Shuffle:

After several weeks with nothing to do following his dismissal from Evernham Motorsports, Jeremy Mayfield hits the track again next weekend in Atlanta. He’ll be driving the No. 15 Billy Ballew Motorsports Chevrolet.

With just four races left in the season, the points race is getting more and more exciting. Coming into Martinsville, Johnny Benson sat 113 points back from Todd Bodine. Benson finished 5th Saturday, nine positions ahead of Bodine, and now sits just 79 points out of the lead. The race for the championship could easily come down to the last lap of the last race of the season at Homestead.

The Top 5 in points remained unchanged with Todd Bodine, Johnny Benson, David Reutimann, Ted Musgrave and Rick Crawford maintaining their positions. Jack Sprague’s win helped him jump from 11th to 8th in the standings behind David Starr and Ron Hornaday. Terry Cook and Mike Bliss round out the Top 10.

Quotable:

“I’m not sure we could have beaten Ted had he not had that black flag. But the fastest truck did win today. We won the pole, got out and led and we could chase Ted down on a green flag run.” Jack Sprague

“I don’t know what that call was, you’ll have to ask the guys up in the tower. I made the same second-gear restart I made all afternoon. I know there were some heated arguments in the 30 pit in Talladega, and maybe that’s what this is all about. But I shouldn’t be getting any heat for that.” Ted Musgrave on his late race penalty

“You are never comfortable in this series. We won in the spring, but we knew we needed to be better if we wanted to win this race. We were trying hard in practice and we got up into the wall and banged up our truck. The guys did a great job getting it fixed.” Runner-Up David Starr

Next Up: The Craftsman Truck Series runs its 22nd race of the season next weekend in Atlanta. The EasyCare Vehicle Service Contracts 200 will run Saturday, October 28th. Television coverage starts at 5:00 pm EST on SPEED, and the race can also be caught on your local PRN affiliate.

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