BROOKLYN, Mich. - Jack Sprague's 2006 calendar has him racing 25 weekends in the Craftsman Truck Series, but the other 27 belong to a girl named Paige Nicole.
Sprague has won more truck series championships (3) and more poles (28) and more money ($5.7 million) than any other driver. But unlike most of his compatriots in the trucks or in the Busch Series, Sprague has no aspirations about moving up to a full-time gig in the Nextel Cup Series, and giving up more chunks of his time.
"My response is still the same thing I've said all along - I like the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, and this is a series that fits my life," Sprague said. "I've got an 11-year-old daughter, and she has to be No. 1. She has to be my priority - to do the best I can in raising her and getting her a good start in her life."
If Sprague made the move to Cup racing, the time commitment would increase exponentially, and he said he would bail out of racing altogether before making his daughter pay the price for such perceived success.
A Kodak crew member watches the wrecked car of Greg Barnhart get towed off the track yesterday during qualifying.
"Racing in the truck series, I can have a career and do right by her also," he said. "If I didn't feel like I could do right by her, I wouldn't even do this. I would get some 9-to-5 job, but this works pretty well. I have a great relationship with her, so this is what I am going to do."
Sprague, a Spring Lake, Mich., native who comes into tomorrow's Con-Way Freight 200 at Michigan International Speedway ranked fifth in the points race, has finished no better than fourth at MIS in his career, and that came in the 1999 truck race on the two-mile oval. He hopes to solve the riddle of the Irish Hills track this go-round.
"It's a weird place. I'm not even sure I know exactly where to drive on it, it's so wide and has so many grooves," Sprague said. "I think it is probably the same as anywhere else. You've got to have a lot of motor and you've got to have a great body, and I think we have both."
Sprague, who was eighth in the points chase last season, went through a six year stretch (1996-2001) when he won the title three times, finished second twice, and fifth the other year. After a foray into Busch Series racing in 2002, he returned to the trucks the following year, and continues to work back toward the top.
"Every week, we're getting better and better and more consistent," Sprague said. "Right now, we just need to pick away at the points and see if we can get up there and challenge for this championship. I've got a weird feeling that we're going to run really good here. If we come out of here with a top-five finish, I would be ecstatic. A win would be awesome."