HOMESTEAD, FL (November 17, 2002) - Jack Sprague would be the first to tell you that his 30th-place finish in Sunday's Ford 400 NASCAR Winston Cup event wasn't what he was anticipating, but that it is a step towards a successful 2003 season. "If...
HOMESTEAD, FL (November 17, 2002) - Jack Sprague would be the first to tell you that his 30th-place finish in Sunday's Ford 400 NASCAR Winston Cup event wasn't what he was anticipating, but that it is a step towards a successful 2003 season.
"If only we had started the race with the car we ended up with," said Sprague. "It just seems to go that way for us. The car is always good at the end, but after we had a problem. We're consistent in the sense we always start the race needing adjustments and then get better, but not in time to get a really good finish. We need to take the problem out of the equation, then we'll get the finish we deserve. The hardest work today was done by the guys. I made a lot of stops and they worked their tails off all day."
Sprague started the event from the 32nd position after the No. 60 Chevy posted a 35.888 second, (150.468 miles per hour) lap. The No. 24 car quickly began descending to the back of the field as it developed a loose condition. The NetZero ride needed major adjustments in order for Sprague to even drive it. On lap 3 of the 267-lap event, Sprague ducked into his pit stall. He took on four fresh tires, fuel and had four rounds put in the right side track bar.
vThe Spring Lake, MI native fell a lap down 27 circuits into the final event and made his second stop of the day on lap 33. This time, the crew mounted four more fresh tires and unhooked the sway bar. Shortly after, Sprague went two laps down, but the car was getting better. Sprague had his work cut out for him. The NetZero car was running respectable lap speeds and once again, came in for service on lap 76 and again on lap 96. Sprague made his longest green flag run of the day before pitting once again on lap 156. Five additional pit stops were made during the remainder of the race before posting the Haas CNC Racing team's best effort of the season.
"We weren't bad before qualifying and I thought I could turn a better lap than a 35.88," said Sprague. "Making the race was the important thing. I don't really know what happened in happy hour, but the car wasn't the same. We changed the set up before the race similar to the No. 25 car thinking it would help. I know we made a lot of stops, but the car wasn't handling well until the end. We made some big adjustments in the early going and the car got better. We had minor damage to the left front fender, but other than that, it was decent. We've got a lot to learn. I think this NetZero team is on the right track and doing all the right things. The races this year were all about gaining experience and points so we would have a shot at the first four races next season."
Sprague is making the jump to Winston Cup full-time run next season and will have his hands full as he and his new Haas CNC Racing team run for "Rookie of the Year" honors. Sprague has an impressive resume and is looking forward to adding some new bullet points to it in 2003.