Las Vegas: Jack Sprague race report

Sprague, NetZero Pontiac rally for 26th-place Las Vegas finish. LAS VEGAS, NV (March 3, 2003) - Jack Sprague and his NetZero Racing team rallied from a late practice crash to score a respectable 26th-place finish in the UAW-DiamlerChrysler 400...

Sprague, NetZero Pontiac rally for 26th-place Las Vegas finish.

LAS VEGAS, NV (March 3, 2003) - Jack Sprague and his NetZero Racing team rallied from a late practice crash to score a respectable 26th-place finish in the UAW-DiamlerChrysler 400 NASCAR Winston Cup event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Sunday.

"Under the circumstances, that wasn't too bad," said Sprague following the race. "We stayed out of trouble, kept our nose clean and had some pretty good pit stops, so I'd say it was not a bad day for us at all."

With just minutes left in the first and only practice session before qualifying Friday, Sprague red, black and white Pontiac Grand Prix made contact with the wall causing heavy front-end damage to the No. 0 NetZero machine. The team quickly unloaded the backup car - the same vehicle they used last weekend at North Carolina Speedway - and went to work preparing for their qualifying run. Among the last of the 45 competitors to take his turn under the lights at Las Vegas 1.5-mile oval, Sprague posted a speed of 185.863 miles per hour, 42nd fastest on the speed charts. The NetZero Racing team was awarded the fifth provisional starting spot rolling off 41st in the 43-car field.

At the drop of the green flag Sunday, Sprague immediately worked his way through traffic rolling to the 34th position by Lap 44 of the 267-lap event. The first pit stop of the day came on Lap 58 where Sprague took on four fresh Goodyear tires and a full load of fuel. Led by veteran crew chief Dennis Connor, the NetZero Racing team spent most of the afternoon making chassis and tire air pressure adjustments to Sprague's mount, which went from loose to tight as the race wore on.

Sprague ran lap speeds comparable to the leaders in the middle and later stages of the event and when the checkered flag flew, the Spring Lake, MI driver had a hard-earned 26th place finish.

"We were pretty good there during the long green flag run in the beginning of the race and again that last run, but for some reason it took about 10 laps for the NetZero Pontiac to really get going after we would pit for new tires," commented Sprague. "I don't know if it was tires or shocks or something else completely, but it hurt us on the restarts. Once we got going though, we ran times that were competitive with the leaders, so that makes us pretty happy."

Sprague and his NetZero Pontiac team will next travel to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Bass Pro Shops MBNA 400 Sunday, March 9 at 1 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The fourth NASCAR Winston Cup event of the season will be telecast live on FOX and will be broadcast worldwide by PRN Radio.

-ghr-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jack Sprague