Sprague not complaining over 1-2 finish behind teammate Hornaday

Updated: May 1, 2008

AP Photo/Orlin Wagner

Defending series champ Ron Hornaday Jr. padded his points lead with a victory at Kansas Speedway.

Sprague's New Team Shows Life With Runner-Up Day At Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Jack Sprague is not the type to be overjoyed with second-place finishes, not after three championships and 28 wins in the Craftsman Truck Series.

So after climbing out of his Chevrolet at Kansas Speedway, having run second to Kevin Harvick Inc. teammate Ron Hornaday, Sprague mostly wore his familiar half-scowl. Yet at the same time he could see the bigger picture.

"Don't get me wrong, I wanted to win this race probably worse than any other race I've ever won in my life," Sprague said. "But I'm not going to go home and kick the dog because I ran second, especially to my teammate. It was a great day for KHI, a one-two punch isn't bad."

Everyone figured great days would be plentiful for Hornaday, coming off a championship year. All he needed to return to Victory Lane (after four trips last year) was some luck, and he finally got that at Kansas when his fuel supply lasted just long enough. He had run fifth at California, second at Atlanta to Kyle Busch and eighth at Martinsville prior to Kansas, where the win returned him to where he finished 2007 -- atop the standings.

KHI signed Sprague at the end of last season, uniting two three-time truck champions in one shop. But as the first four races of this year showed, adding a second full-time truck, even with one of the series' most accomplished drivers, wasn't a deal in which you could clone the established team and -- presto! -- have two great teams.

There's still an adjustment period, and Sprague and the No. 2 Chevy team lived it through four races that included just one finish above 19th, a sixth at Atlanta.

"I know it looks like we joined a championship team, which we did, but still my team is new," Sprague said. "We're finally starting to come together. We don' t have any problems finding speed; we're fast everywhere we go. It's just getting the pit stops good, doing the right things, everybody getting used to each other."

True that. Sprague sat on the pole at Martinsville and qualified in the first three rows at every other race save California, where rain forced the field to start on 2007 owner points and he was 30th (the No. 2 was a part-time truck last year). Bad racing luck was a factor at some stops, like Daytona, where an early cut tire put him down three laps. But pit stops have been a more recurring factor, such as Martinsville, where Sprague's track-record pole position was rendered worthless after a slow first stop.

For Kansas, the No. 2 and 33 teams switched some members of the pit crews, and the results were immediate. Breathing a sigh of relief was Hornaday's crew chief, Rick Ren.

"I kind of pushed Kevin to start the second team, I designed the trucks, I give [the No. 2] their setups, I hand-picked [Sprague's crew chief] Ernie Cope. Once we get to the track, they're on their free reign, but we had a big struggle with them the first few races," Ren said. "Of course I want Ron to win, but to me, either one of them winning, I win. It's really self-gratifying to see them run good."

It's self-gratifying for the driver, too, especially with the heart of the schedule coming up with seven consecutive weeks of racing beginning May 16 at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

"That's why I decided to take this job, I knew it was good stuff," said Sprague, who rose from 15th to ninth in points from Kansas. "For the fifth race on this team, to be that close to winning is pretty impressive, I'm pretty proud of that fact. This gives us some momentum going to Charlotte. Hopefully we can beat [Hornaday] there."

And get on the other side of those one-two punches.

John Schwarb is a freelance journalist covering motorsports and a contributor to ESPN.com. He can be reached at johnschwarb@yahoo.com.

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Randy Moss Goin' Truck Racing

Randy Moss

Moss

New England Patriots receiver Randy Moss sitting atop a pit box in the truck series? Looks like a possibility with an announcement this week that Moss Motorsports has formed with the intention of running a partial truck schedule later this year and going full time in 2009.

"We don't have all of the details in place just yet, but I am very excited about Moss Motorsports becoming a part of NASCAR," Moss said. "I am by nature a very competitive person, and this is an outlet for me to compete at another level. There are some pretty awesome challenges in building a program like this from the ground up, but I am looking forward to it.

"There are a lot of NASCAR fans in the locker room. We've seen a lot of football players get involved, guys like Dan Marino and Troy Aikman, to name a couple. I think it's a good fit and gives some of the companies I am already working with an additional outlet. It's a smart move on the marketing side of things, but on the personal side of things, I think it's going to be a lot of fun."

Moss hinted at eventually using his team to help young drivers work their way up the NASCAR ladder, but in the meantime might first look to hire an experienced driver.

Breakout Weekend For Speed

None of it came easy, but Scott Speed turned in his best weekend as a stock-car driver at Kansas. He won Friday's ARCA race, then finished eighth in his third truck series start.

In the ARCA race, the former Formula One driver went a lap down early when pitting under green to fix his window net. But he later lucky-dogged the lap back and was able to return his strong Red Bull Toyota (it qualified second) to the front, winning by .791 seconds.

The truck race also had its incidents early, but Speed recovered. Driving for Bill Davis Racing, Speed was hit with consecutive pass-through penalties on Laps 30-31, one for passing on the wrong side during a restart and the second for speeding entering the pits.

"Apparently what I thought the rule is for passing people is not actually NASCAR's rule for passing people," Speed said. "The second one was because I was a bit confused on how to let the cars by me coming into the pits. So I tried to stay on the apron and on the racetrack, and I was too busy trying not to get in anyone's way and missed my braking mark and came too hot into the pits.

"This race was a huge learning experience for me. We certainly had a top-10 truck, and even with all the penalties, we still ended up coming back in that same spot. It was a lot of good practice passing trucks out there and running with the guys at the top end of the field."

Speed, who has two top-10s in three truck starts, will race in the series' next event May 16 at Charlotte, N.C. He'll drive the ARCA car again Sunday at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway.

Standings