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.