Chicagoland: Jack Sprague race report

Engine trouble cuts day at Chicagoland Speedway short for Sprague/Netzero hispeed racing team HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (July 14, 2003) - Engine failure, a virtual rarity for Jack Sprague and the NetZero HiSpeed Racing team, relegated the team to a ...

Engine trouble cuts day at Chicagoland Speedway short for Sprague/Netzero hispeed racing team

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (July 14, 2003) - Engine failure, a virtual rarity for Jack Sprague and the NetZero HiSpeed Racing team, relegated the team to a 40th-place finish in the running of the Tropicana 400 at Chicagoland Speedway Sunday.

"That's just the way this year has kind of gone," lamented Sprague following the misfortune. "Hendrick has built us great engines and this is the first problem that we've had. This place has so much grip that you are taxing the motor hard."

Sprague posted a speed of 180.832 miles per hour around the 1.5-mile oval during his qualifying run on Friday and lined up 34th on the grid for the start of the Tropicana 400, the first event at the Chicagoland Speedway for the NASCAR Winston Cup Series this season.

The green flag flew for the start of the event and it didn't take long for Sprague to begin his ascent to the front. Though the NetZero HiSpeed Pontiac was tight off the corners, Sprague moved into the 27th spot by the time the first round of pit stops occurred. Crew Chief Tony Furr called Sprague into the pits on Lap 61 and the pit crew made quick work of changing all four tires, making a track bar adjustment and filling the gas tank with fuel. Sprague went one lap down to the leader, Kevin Harvick, who was setting a blistering pace, several laps later.

Following a round of pit stops under caution on Lap 85, the field took the green flag for the restart one lap later. Sprague lined up on the inside lane of the track as the first car one lap down.

Sprague fought hard with the leaders and was able to maintain his position near the front of the field while running in the Top 20. Unfortunately, Sprague was hit with engine troubles on Lap 117 and had no choice but to drive the NetZero HiSpeed Pontiac into the garage. The car was retired from the race and credited with a 40th-place finish.

"The NetZero HiSpeed Pontiac was pretty good, but on the first set of tires I couldn't do anything with the front tires," stated Sprague.

"They weren't lifting up and I got a lap down. After that I could run in the front with those guys and run good. The set that we put on there was the best that the car had felt and it broke. We just can't seem to get the 1,000 monkeys off our back, I guess. I'd like to thank NetZero, Pontiac, and Gene Haas for supporting this deal. I know it's tough right now, especially tough on me, but sooner or later it's got to come around."

Following a two-day test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Monday and Tuesday, the NetZero HiSpeed Racing team will head to New Hampshire International Speedway, where Sprague earned two pole positions and a victory during his days in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Qualifying for the New England 300 will take place Friday, July 18, with the drop of the green flag scheduled for Sunday at 2 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The event will be telecast live on TNT and will be broadcast worldwide by MRN Radio.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kevin Harvick , Jack Sprague