Pocono: Jack Sprague race report

HUNTERSVILLE, NC (June 9, 2003) - Jack Sprague and the NetZero Racing team finished 22nd in Sunday's running of the Pocono 500 at Pocono Raceway. An early four-tire pit stop left the team behind most of its competitors who chose to take on only...

HUNTERSVILLE, NC (June 9, 2003) - Jack Sprague and the NetZero Racing team finished 22nd in Sunday's running of the Pocono 500 at Pocono Raceway. An early four-tire pit stop left the team behind most of its competitors who chose to take on only two fresh Goodyear tires, but the team persevered and was rewarded with its fourth top-25 finish of the season.

"We got a little behind there after the first stop when we took four tires and just about everybody else took two or none," said Sprague.

"After that it was just a matter of being patient, working through traffic and trying to fix a really tight NetZero Pontiac."

Sprague posted the fastest speed of the Raybestos rookie class during qualifying on Friday and was set to line up 18th on the starting grid after his 168.833 mile per hour run around the huge 2.5-mile tri-oval in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.

The green flag flew Sunday after rain washed out both scheduled practice sessions on Saturday, and though skies were threatening on race day as well, the race began without a hitch. A scary incident involving Ken Schrader on Lap 8 of the 200-Lap event gave the entire field the opportunity to make early handling adjustments.

Sprague took advantage of the yellow flag and drove down pit road to the attention of his crew who worked on alleviating a tight condition and bolted on four fresh tires. The vast majority of the other teams opted for two new tires, or none at all, and Sprague returned to the track in 37th. Sprague continued to battle handling issues and encountered a flat right front tire on Lap 88. Fortunately, the flat tire coincided with a scheduled pit stop and, after driving into his pit stall for service, Sprague was able to continue without any ramifications from the incident. The leaders caught up to Sprague and put him one lap down just after the midway point of the race, but he continued to work through traffic and finished his first event on the tricky course in 22nd place.

"Tony (Furr, crew chief) made a great call there at the end - two tires instead of four - and that got us a lot of track position," commented Sprague. "We tested here and we weren't tight like we were all day today, but we're pretty satisfied with that run since it was my first time here and we didn't get any practice on Saturday. We'll need to work on getting the NetZero HiSpeed Pontiac a little better in the corners for the race here in July, but we finished in one piece and in the top 25 today, so it was a decent day for us."

Following a test session at Road Atlanta (Ga.) in preparation for the upcoming road course event in Sonoma, Calif., the team will travel to Michigan International Speedway for the running of the Sirius Satellite Radio 400. Qualifying for the event will take place Friday, June 13, with the drop of the green flag scheduled for Sunday at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The event will be telecast live on FOX and will be broadcast worldwide by MRN Radio.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ken Schrader , Jack Sprague