Sprague wins championship at Fontana

FONTANA, CA (November 3, 2001) - Jack Sprague wanted to win a record third NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship with a bang, but a 31st-place finish in the Auto Club 200 at California Speedway wasn't exactly what the driver of the No....

FONTANA, CA (November 3, 2001) - Jack Sprague wanted to win a record third NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship with a bang, but a 31st-place finish in the Auto Club 200 at California Speedway wasn't exactly what the driver of the No. 24 NetZero Chevrolet had in mind. "I had it planned a little differently," said Sprague, who won the title just by taking the green flag in the final NCTS event of the season. "In a perfect world, we would have won he race too. I never believed we'd finish the race wrecked and loaded on the trailer." Sprague started the 200-mile event from the sixth position and immediately rocketed his NetZero Chevy Silverado toward the front as his crew celebrated the championship on pit road. Sprague's plan of a perfect day winning the race and the title came to a grinding halt on Lap 28 when contact with Scott Riggs sent his truck hard into the backstretch wall. "We were racing three wide down the back straight," said Sprague. "Riggs was on the bottom, Jon Wood was in the middle and I was on the outside. I guess Riggs thought he had cleared Wood and moved up a little. They made contact and that sent Riggs right up into me. It was a darn shame to wreck that early in the race because we both had trucks capable of winning." Sprague's mangled mount limped back to the garage area where it was determined to be too damaged to continue. After more than an hour of work just to get the truck back in rolling order, it was loaded into the transporter for the long ride back to the Hendrick Motorsports shops in North Carolina. Sprague wasn't done for the day, however, as the his backup truck was unloaded and readied for a wild series of burnouts in front of the main grandstand after the completion of the event. The 37-year-old Spring Lake, MI driver then jumped out of his truck waving a large American flag much to the delight of the large crowd in attendance. "Like I said, things didn't turn out quite like I thought, but this is still pretty cool," Sprague stated. "We really wanted this third championship badly. No one else has ever done that in the Truck Series and we wanted to be the first ones to do that. We also wanted to reward NetZero with their first championship, to reward them for believing in us. We didn't win the race today, but we won something a whole lot more important." Sprague's 31st-place finish gave him 70 points for the day and 3670 points, 73 better than championship runner-up and California race winner Ted Musgrave. The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Championship Awards Banquet will officially ring down the curtain on the 2001 season Thursday, November 8. The event, which will be held at the Intercontinental Hotel in Miami, FL, will begin with a reception at 6 p.m. with dinner and the awards ceremony to follow at 8 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.

-HM-

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