BUSCH: Madison: Jack Sprague preview

Sprague, NetZero Chevy looking to collect on old debt at Gateway. MADISON, IL (July 13, 2002) - Jack Sprague is hoping to collect on something he feels he deserves when he returns to Gateway International Raceway for the Charter Pipeline 250 ...

Sprague, NetZero Chevy looking to collect on old debt at Gateway.

MADISON, IL (July 13, 2002) - Jack Sprague is hoping to collect on something he feels he deserves when he returns to Gateway International Raceway for the Charter Pipeline 250 NASCAR Busch Series race this weekend. The last time Sprague competed at the 1.25-mile Gateway oval, his No. 24 NetZero NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series entry suffered engine trouble while leading with just 35 circuits remaining. While Sprague managed to salvage an eighth-place finish, he feels like the St. Louis area track owes him one.

"Last year's Truck Series race was disappointing for all of us," said Sprague, who will pilot the No. 24 NetZero Chevy Monte Carlo in this weekend's NBS clash. "We were leading the race when the engine developed a misfire. I can't really say I had the truck to win that race, but I would have given Ted (eventual winner Ted Musgrave) a run for his money. We never got that chance. We've never had a bad run at Gateway and I don't plan to start now. I like racing at Gateway. Hopefully, we gain a good amount of points this weekend and get this NetZero team headed in the direction it deserves to be going - to the top."

While Saturday's NBS event will mark Sprague's fifth visit to Gateway, it will be his first in a NASCAR Busch Series car. The Spring Lake, MI driver finished fourth in the inaugural 1998 NCTS race at Gateway and followed it up with a third-place effort one year later. In 2000, Sprague steered his Hendrick Motorsports Chevy Silverado to Victory Lane. Last year's disappointing eighth-place run marked the first time Sprague finished out of the Top-5 in four Gateway NCTS events.

"Gateway is similar to Martinsville, just bigger," said Sprague. "The long straight-aways and tight, sweeping corners are similar at both tracks. At Gateway, Turns 1 and 2 are tight and Turns 3 and 4 are the sweepers, making it almost impossible to have a chassis setup that will work equally at both ends of the track. That means you need to compromise your setup, making it pretty challenging for the drivers. None of that bothers us because we've always found something that kept us up front all day."

Sprague enters the Gateway race coming off a disappointing 42nd-place finish in the most recent NBS event at Chicagoland Speedway. He is third in the 2002 NBS championship standings heading into the 200-lap Gateway event.

"I'm looking forward to going back to Gateway because I've got a good amount of laps there and feel comfortable with the track," said Sprague. I won a race there and came pretty darn close to winning the others, so you can say I like this track. I've never had a poor qualifying run there, but I've never won a pole at Gateway either. Maybe we can do something about that this weekend."

The Charter Pipeline 250 will take the green flag Saturday, July 20 at 8 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The event marks the 20th of 34 NASCAR Busch Series races this and will be telecast live on TNT. MRN Radio will also broadcast the race live.

ABOUT NETZERO:

NetZero is a United Online company. United Online is a leading value-priced Internet service provider that commenced operations in September 2001 as the result of its acquisition of NetZero and Juno Online Services -- two of the most recognized Internet access brands in the United States and Canada. Through its subsidiaries, United Online offers both free and value-priced Internet access services in more than 5,000 cities. The company is headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., with offices in New York City and Hyderabad, India. United Online's common stock is traded on the Nasdaq National Market under the ticker symbol "UNTD." For more information about NetZero and United Online, visit www.unitedonline.net. To obtain a NetZero CD, please call 1-800-DEFENDER.

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Ted Musgrave , Jack Sprague
Teams Hendrick Motorsports