The Frontstretch: New Milestone in Atlanta by Beth Lunkenheimer -- Thursday March 15, 2007

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New Milestone in Atlanta

Tracking the Trucks · Beth Lunkenheimer · Thursday March 15, 2007

 

The Craftsman Truck Series will see another milestone this weekend. Jack Sprague and Rick Crawford will each make their 250th series start when they take the green flag at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Sprague and Crawford don’t even have to worry about a bad qualifying run since only 35 drivers are entered to race in a maximum field of 36. Both drivers bring plenty of experience as well success with them to Atlanta this weekend.

Rick Crawford started his Truck Series career in the No. 14 Circle Bar Motel & RV Park Ford at Walt Disney World Speedway in 1997. He went on to finish 12th in the overall points in that first season. As a testament to his durability, Crawford has run every truck race during his 11 year career.

Crawford has five wins and 121 Top 10 finishes to his credit. Unfortunately, he still has not taken home the coveted Craftsman Truck Series championship trophy but he has come close, with a career best second in the standings in 2002. Crawford currently sits 8th on the points chart, just 78 points out of first.

“It means I’m old. Not as old as (Ken) Schrader (No. 18 Fastenal Dodge), but I’m up there. There was a time a few years ago that I really didn't think I had 250 (starts). We weren't running good and it just wasn't fun anymore. We made some changes, Cowboy (crew chief Kevin Starland) came on board, our trucks got better and it's fun to go to the race track.” Rick Crawford

Jack Sprague’s CTS career started along with the series in 1995 at Phoenix International Raceway. Sprague piloted the No. 31 Performance Race Cars USA Chevy to a 6th place finish in his first start. That same year, Sprague went on to finish 5th in the overall standings.

During his career, he has posted 28 wins, just one shy of the record held by Ron Hornaday Jr., including one in the season opener at Daytona. Sprague does hold the series record for championships, taking home the title in 1997, 1999 and 2001 for Hendrick Motorsports in the No. 24 Chevrolet. The three time champion looks to be well on his way towards number four this season. He currently shares the top spot in the standings with Mike Skinner.

“This is a very special time right now in a lot of ways and to make a monumental start like No. 250 is pretty cool. And what are the odds of two drivers doing it at the same time? I didn’t realize it was going to be my 250th career start in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series until someone said something to me the other day.” Jack Sprague

Only two other drivers have started more than 200 events. Terry Cook in the No. 59 Harris Trucking Toyota has 242 starts while Dennis Setzer in the No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Chevrolet Silverado has 219. Assuming both drivers continue racing full time, Cook will hit the 250th start milestone at Michigan this season, while Setzer will hit 250 during the 2008 season.

This weekend, Rick Crawford hopes to become the first Ford driver to win in Atlanta, while Jack Sprague would like to give Toyota their second win at the track. In five starts at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, Rick Crawford has started in the Top 10 just once; he started on the pole for the first of the series’ two stops at the 1.54-mile track in 2005. The 11 year veteran has three DNF’s and two Top 10 finishes. Jack Sprague, on the other hand, has finished all five races he’s started at Atlanta. Although he hasn’t started inside the Top 10, Sprague has three Top 10 finishes under his belt. Both have their work cut out for them this weekend, but no matter what happens on race day, both drivers have something to be proud of.

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