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Saturday, October 21, 2006
Sprague wins at Martinsville after Musgrave penalty

Associated Press

MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- Jack Sprague took the lead when NASCAR took it away from Ted Musgrave with 61 laps to go Saturday and won for the first time in 13 career starts at tight and tricky Martinsville Speedway in NASCAR's Craftsman Truck Series.

The victory was the 27th for the three-time series champion, second only to Ron Hornaday's 29, and his second this season. He also won at Memphis in July.

"To win at Martinsville is unbelievable," Sprague said in Victory Lane. "I'm terrible here, so this is really cool. It might be one of my new favorite places."

Musgrave, who was hoping to run the entire 200-lap race without a pit stop, grabbed the lead from Sprague on the 34th lap and held it through several restarts until the 138th lap, when he was penalized for an improper restart after several warnings.

On the restart, Musgrave first slowed down as the leader of the field, bunching up all the trucks behind him, then sped up for the green flag, which is not allowed.

That put Sprague back in front, and the pole-sitter stayed there, finally mastering the 0.526-mile oval where he'd finished third four times in a truck since 1996.

Musgrave led 105 laps, and Sprague led the rest.

"I knew I could catch Ted. I knew I was faster than Ted," he said. "Could I have passed him? I don't know. We'll never know. Finally it was just our day."

David Starr, who won here in the spring, passed rookie Erik Darnell for second with 17 laps to go. Darnell was third, followed by teammate Mark Martin.

Points leader Todd Bodine finished 14th and Johnny Benson, who began the day 113 points behind, was fifth. Benson now trails by 73 points with four races to go.

Musgrave dropped to 20th after the penalty. He wound up 15th.

Darnell, who started fifth, had a good view of Musgrave's tactics on the restarts and was one of several drivers who said they were surprised that he was penalized.

"I don't really know that Ted did anything to warrant being black-flagged from my point of view, but it was NASCAR's call," he said.

Sprague agreed.

"He didn't do anything that any of the rest of us didn't do," he said.

But he wasn't offering to give the victory back after his run of bad luck.

"We've had four miserable races in a row with at least three really good trucks," he said, adding that his team also considered trying to run without a pit stop.

"The way my luck's been going, I would have been the one that ran out," he said.