Atlanta: Jack Sprague race notes

HAMPTON, GA -- March 13, 2004 -- It was a tough couple of days at the office for Jack Sprague and the members of the ...

HAMPTON, GA -- March 13, 2004 -- It was a tough couple of days at the office for Jack Sprague and the members of the #16 Chevy Trucks Silverado IWX Racing Team. After qualifying a disappointing 19th for the EasyCare Vehicle Service Contracts 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, things didn't improve for the three-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion.

"We struggled finding the handle to get speed all weekend," said Sprague. "We made change after change during happy hour to see what we could find to improve our Chevy Trucks Silverado but just couldn't seem to get where we knew we should be."

Saturday morning, the crew put their heads together going through notes from testing as well as previous races to search for the answers they needed to move the Chevy Trucks Silverado to the front of the field.

From virtually the drop of the green flag of Saturday's 130 lap race, the two-time NCTS team lead by Dave Fuge (team manager) and Chris Showalter (crew chief) fought adversity. On lap eight, Sprague keyed his radio to relay the truck was "wicked bad loose" as he slipped backward in the standings.

On lap 16, another major setback hit the team when Sprague was black-flagged by NASCAR officials for his driver's side window net falling down. The team decided to make major adjustments to the handling components of the truck during the unscheduled pit stop to fix the window net. When Sprague rejoined the field, he was in 34th position, two-laps down from the leader.

But despite the major adjustments, the handling didn't improve and on lap 40, Sprague came down pit road to make additional repairs to the window net and further major adjustments to try and improve the handling of the truck.

When the yellow flag flew on lap 44, Sprague was in 33rd position, four laps down to the leader.

The crew never gave up and continued to make changes to the truck as the race progressed with air pressure, track bar adjustments, spring rubbers and wedge.

On lap 94, Sprague returned to the pits with the window net loose again. At that time, the team made the final adjustments to the #16 Chevy Trucks Silverado. When racing resumed, Sprague was 28th.

As the laps wound down to the finish, Sprague turned the best lap times of the event.

"I don't know what to say," Sprague continued. "We struggled all weekend with our Chevy Trucks Silverado. It just didn't seem like we could get a handle under us. Dave (Fuge, team manager), Chris (Showalter, crew chief) and everyone on the IWX Chevy Trucks crew worked and worked to try to get us better before the race started.

"They went through our test notes from Charlotte to see if we could find something since we got rained out here at the test. We started out and by the 2nd lap we were just wicked loose. Then we got black flagged for the window net coming down so I brought it in and the guys made major changes to see if we could get any better. Again, nothing seemed to really help us that much.

"The window net kept coming down, so we came in again under yellow and taped it up made more major changes, but by that point we were so far down, it made more sense to take care of the truck and finish the race."

Sprague concluded, "I am disappointed for our team, Chevrolet Silverado and all our sponsors. We will be back and win races for them, but this just wasn't our weekend. This team knows how to win races and championships, we won't quit until we get it right."

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Jack Sprague