Jack Sprague excited to return to MIS and his home state

Published 4:34 am Wednesday, June 8, 2005

By By ERIKA PICKLES / Niles Daily Star
NILES - The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is one of America's fastest growing major sports. It features full-size, American-made trucks from Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford and Toyota in tough, side-by-side racing.
The truck series is a favorite among fans who like big, powerful, fast trucks. The series' 30 million fans are among the most loyal fans in the United States, as all NASCAR fans are.
With the population of the sport continuing to rise each year and with tougher competition coming in, its no wonder some of the drivers are having a hard time adjusting to this fast paced change.
"I'm glad the sport is growing in popularity, but it has also become pretty hard to win races as more competitive drivers are coming in," Sprague added.
Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart, Ricky Craven and Jimmy Spencer are only a few of the drivers Sprague, who is on the Xpress Motorsports team, competed against this past Saturday in Dover for the MBNA 200.
And with the announcement of Mark Martin planning to run the entire 2006 Craftsman Truck Series for Rousch Racing, Sprague knows it will make the races that much more difficult.
Sprague was the fourth fastest in the first practice at Dover last week and fifth fastest in the second practice giving him a good shot at finishing high in the race, but a late-race accident caused him to finish 29th, which he wasn't too pleased with.
Sprague, who is currently ranked 12th in points standings, still has time to play catch up as there are 17 races to go in the 2005 season.
This Friday, the Truck Series will travel to the Texas Motor Speedway for the Chex 400k.
On June 18, the Craftsman Trucks will make their first appreance at a June race when they head to Michigan International Speedway for the Paramount Health Insurance 200.
The truck series, which has run in July at MIS in years past, reconfigured the schedule to take advantage of heightened fan and media interest in the "Chase for the NASCAR Nextel Cup," the season's final 10 races that provide a points framework awarding the NASCAR Nextel Cup championship.
Sprague, who is from Michigan, says he is always happy to come home.
While he said one advantage of moving the race to June is that the weather may be a little cooler, he admits he will focus on doing his best when he comes to MIS.
Though Sprague may be having a bit of trouble right now with the races, he is in no means a rookie to the sport and admits he is well overdue for a win.
Some of his career highlights include finishing seventh in the NASCAR Nextel Cup standings in 2004, ranks No. 2 in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series wins with 24, has won in seven different seasons, a feat shared with Dennis Setzer.
In 1997, he had a championship margin of 232 points over Rich Bickle, the widest margin in series history. He competed on NASCAR Busch Series in 2002 , finishing sixth with one victory. He was on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series in 2003 and won 20 times on NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series in 1994.