02/16/07
Sprague Steals Kvapil’s Daytona Thunder

Travis Kvapil thought he had the field covered in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series’ season opener at Daytona International Speedway and he did – right up until Jack Sprague beat him to the checkers by a scant 0.003-second.

Kvapil had the lead coming off Turn 4 on the final lap and his sights firmly set on a victory but Sprague and Johnny Benson had other ideas. Benson gave Sprague the drafting help he needed to reach Kvapil’s back bumper and as Sprague swept to the outside, Benson turned left and went for the inside lane.

Sprague got the victory in a thrilling three-wide finish while Benson took second and a disappointed Kvapil settled for third. Sprague became the eighth different Truck Series driver to win at the 2.5-mile speedway and the first to do in a Toyota. “It’s awesome!” he exclaimed. “I can’t thank Johnny Benson enough. He won this race for me. I don’t think I would have ever got by Travis (by myself). Johnny hit me so hard it knocked my dentures into the back of my throat. If I didn’t deserve to win then he surely did. I owe him and I appreciate it.”

Benson finished runner-up in the point standings in 2006 wanted nothing more than to start the season strong and he did just that with his best Daytona finish in three starts. “That was pretty wild,” said Benson. “I didn't think I could get second following Jack so I decided to cut across the track and got it. That was cool."

This wasn’t Kvapil’s first Daytona rodeo so he knew he was little more than a sitting duck on the final lap before Sprague and Benson even made their move.
“I actually knew off of turn two on the white flag lap that I was in trouble,” he said. “I felt like I got too big of a lead when they were side-by-side and I tried to split the air up between them both as best I could. Our F-150 was the best truck out here tonight and I feel like I let down the guys on the team.”

Rookie of the Year contender Blake Bjorklund more than held his own in the No. 8 Chevrolet sponsored by Blue Ox and led a lap for the first time in his career. His Daytona dream ended on Lap 79 when he was swept up in a crash with fellow rookie Kelly Bires. Bjorklund was forced to retire from the race with a broken radiator and was given credit for a 25th place finish.

The Truck Series team will make the long trek west for next weekend’s race at California Speedway.