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Down in Daytona 2008: Jack Sprague, Ron Hornaday Take Friendly Rivalry to KHI

Frontstretch’s Truck Series content is presented by American Trucks

Editor’s Note: Mike Lovecchio will be covering testing news and information in a variety of ways for us this January at Daytona. To read his reports from earlier in the week, be sure to click the links below:

Cup Testing, Day 1
Cup Testing, Day 2
Truck Testing, Day 1

Jack Sprague and Ron Hornaday have long been friendly rivals, with both drivers taking turns winning the Craftsman Truck Series’ title in four of the first five years. Driving for rival owners Dale Earnhardt and Rick Hendrick, Sprague and Hornaday had a few run-ins between 1996 and 1999, but both are now competing for a record fourth title under the same banner at Kevin Harvick Inc.

Just two months ago, Hornaday matched his new teammate when he won his third championship at the series’ final stop at Homestead. While some may question whether two successful drivers can co-exist on a ‘super-team,’ the respect that these veteran drivers have shown for each other should make for a friendly competition at the KHI camp.

“We’ve been friends for a long time. We’ve been doing this a long time. I think we’ll be able to make each other stronger,” Sprague admitted at a Friday afternoon press conference. “A lot of the rivalry and the intense moments – not all of them, but most of them – were hype.”

“Don’t get me wrong, Hornaday and I have had three or four incidents where we didn’t talk for a month or so, but it’s been in a span of 12 years, so that’s not bad.”

Hornaday beat Sprague by just 53 points for the Truck Series championship in 1996 and again by three points in 1998, but Sprague responded by winning titles in 1997 and 1999, and then his series-leading third championship in 2001. Hornaday tied Sprague’s mark by beating Mike Skinner by 54 points last season.

The KHI duo is 1-2 in career wins and top-five finishes and both have been near each other on the speed charts early this week at Daytona. On the second day of testing Sprague posted the 12th-fastest speed in single-truck runs with a lap of 175.425 mph while Hornaday came in 13th at 175.302. Hornaday was fifth-fastest in the drafting session.

Sprague will look to become the first repeat Truck Series winner at Daytona next month after winning last year’s event in a down-to-the-wire battle with Johnny Benson. Unlike last year, however, Sprague hopes a win in the season opener will translate to a series-leading fourth championsip and allowing him to regain the upper-hand in his friendly rivalry.

“I’ve got more years doing this than Hornaday has left, so when he quits I have a few more shots at it,” he said jokingly. “I certainly enjoyed the time I had being the only three-time champion and maybe we can win another one this year and be the only four-time champion.”

Other Notes

  • Erik Darnell posted the fastest time in single-truck runs for the second consecutive day.
  • Each of the four manufacturers were among the six fastest cars in the AM session.

Top-Three AM Speeds (single-truck runs)

  1. Erik Darnell — 178.547
  2. Scott Lynch — 178.327
  3. Mike Skinner — 177.792

Top-Three PM Speeds (drafting)

  1. Jon Wood — 184.332
  2. Todd Bodine — 183.763
  3. Rick Crawford — 183.703
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