Darlington: Jack Sprague race report

DARLINGTON, SC (March 16, 2003) Jack Sprague was looking forward to a full afternoon of battling Darlington Raceway - 'The Track To Tough To Tame' - only to have the famed oval swallow up the NetZero Pontiac and a host of others in a multi-car, ...

DARLINGTON, SC (March 16, 2003) Jack Sprague was looking forward to a full afternoon of battling Darlington Raceway - 'The Track To Tough To Tame' - only to have the famed oval swallow up the NetZero Pontiac and a host of others in a multi-car, Lap-24 accident. In the garage and out for the day with a 40th-place finish, Sprague was still trying to piece together what caused his early demise.

"I'm not really sure what happened," said Sprague, as he surveyed his mangled NetZero Pontiac. "I saw Sterling Marlin pound the fence going into Turn 1. We all slowed down pretty decent and then Bobby Labonte went spinning. Then I saw nothing but smoke and tried to follow Kevin Harvick through it. I thought I had it about cleared and then Bobby slid back up in front of me and I got him."

Sprague started the event in the 34th spot after posting a speed of 166.789 mph around the tricky 1.366-mile track during qualifying Friday. Almost immediately following the drop of the green flag in Sunday's main event, Sprague radioed the team he was fighting a loose condition with his NetZero Pontiac. On Lap 13, the ill-handling car got the best of Sprague as he looped it on the frontstretch, miraculously not making contact with anything and remaining on the lead lap. NASCAR opted to throw a caution flag for the spin, which gave Sprague the opportunity to make a pit stop for four tires, fuel and chassis adjustments.

Sprague radioed the car was much better on the restart, but had little time to enjoy the ride as the Lap 24, seven-car melee had Sprague in the wrong place at the wrong time. The NetZero team spent the next 140 laps in the garage working to replace almost the entire front end of the car and Sprague eventually returned to the track to finish 40th.

"The NetZero Pontiac was really loose in the beginning of the race," Sprague stated. "I spun out on the frontstretch and fortunately didn't hit anything and then got a caution flag, which was cool. After that we were running pretty good until we got caught up in that accident. It just seems like we can't catch a break."

Sprague hopes his luck will turn for the better when his NetZero Pontiac team will travel to Bristol Motor Speedway for the Food City 500 Sunday, March 23 at 1 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The sixth NASCAR Winston Cup event of the season will be telecast live on FOX and will be broadcast worldwide by PRN Radio.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Labonte , Sterling Marlin , Jack Sprague