Originally created 07/06/97

Hornaday takes DieHard 200



WEST ALLIS, Wis. -- Taking advantage of a late-race caution flag, Ron Hornaday used the restart to put an aggressive move on leader Jack Sprague and win Saturday's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series DieHard 200 at The Milwaukee Mile.

Sprague, the race's pole sitter, held a 10-second advantage over Hornaday following green flag pit stops which were completed with 13 laps remaining in the $346,834 event. But debris on the race track, between turns one and two, turned on the yellow caution light, allowing the field to restart single-file for a four-lap shootout.

Following the restart, Hornaday caught Sprague and, with three laps to go, shoved his Chevrolet to the bottom of the track as the leaders raced into the first turn of the one-mile oval. He shot under Sprague's Chevy, which had pushed out of the groove, and drove away to his third victory of the season, winning by 1.055 seconds.

Jay Sauter and Rich Bickle also passed Sprague. Rick Carelli finished fifth, a half-length behind Sprague, followed by Mike Wallace. The top six finishers drove Chevrolets.

The winner averaged 105.665 mph, eclipsing the April 20 event at Phoenix as the fastest series race ever run on a one-mile oval.

Hornaday, whose truck shadowed Sprague until running out of fuel and stalling in the pits, got a lucky break when a bungee cord found its way onto the race track.

"I got up on the back of his truck and it made him loosen up," said the 39-year-old defending series champion, who added $37,725 to the bank accounts of owner Dale Earnhardt Inc. "I took it all the way under the yellow line (on the inside of the track). It was pretty exciting."

The disappointed Sprague, who also was bidding for his third win of the season, left the track and had no comment on the finish.

Before the fifth caution, Sprague led five times for 127 laps. Bickle and Hornaday were the race's other leaders, as the top spot was traded 10 times.

Bickle, whose engine lost a cylinder with sevem laps remaining, added five points to his championship lead. He now leads Sprague by 49 points as the series moves to Louisville, Ky. next weekend. The race will mark the end of the first half of the 26-race schedule.