Martinsville Jack Sprague post-race report

MARTINSVILLE, VA (April 7, 2001) - Heading into the final third of the Advance Auto Parts 250, Jack Sprague was right where he wanted to be - in position to win the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race. Just a few laps later, Sprague was in a...

MARTINSVILLE, VA (April 7, 2001) - Heading into the final third of the Advance Auto Parts 250, Jack Sprague was right where he wanted to be - in position to win the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race. Just a few laps later, Sprague was in a very unusual position, behind the wall and out of the event. "I guess we had an exhaust valve get sucked inside the cylinder," said Sprague after parking his No. 24 NetZero Platinum Chevrolet Silverado for the day on Lap 200. "I was wide open going down the back straight when the thing just gave up. Initially, we thought it might be a broken rocker arm, but when we got it behind the wall and took the valve cover off, it was terminal. We went back out and ran a couple of laps, but it was pretty futile and we had to park for the day. That's pretty unusual for us and it's really unfortunate because we were running fourth when it happened and in a good position to win the race." Sprague started the 250-lap test on the .526-mile Martinsville oval from the eighth position and moved into the Top-5 by Lap 75. A pit stop 10 circuits later made Sprague's special edition blue and silver NetZero Platinum Chevy even better as he quickly appropriated the fourth spot. "We were pretty tight and the truck just wouldn't turn like it needed to early in the race," said Sprague. "We were just fortunate that we were at a short-track like Martinsville because it really didn't hurt us that bad. Anyplace else and we might have been in trouble. We were just biding our time, looking at the big picture. Both Ted Musgrave and Scott Riggs had trouble early in the race and we thought we'd really be able to gain on them in the points race. Unfortunately, that didn't happen." The tables began to turn on Sprague after a pit stop on Lap 142 shuffled him back in the field. With several other drivers on a different pit cycle, Sprague muscled his NetZero mount from eighth to fourth and appeared to be headed to the front only to have the mechanical problem spoil his day. "We had a good run going," said Sprague. "I'm not sure we had the truck to win the race, but it was going to be another runner-up or Top-3 finish for sure. I just hate it when this kind of thing happens." Fortunately, Sprague hasn't had to endure too many of these kinds of episodes in his career. The 36-year-old Spring Lake, MI driver, honored prior to the event as the only driver to compete in all 150 events in the history of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, had just 12 DNFs (did not finish) in his 149 previous starts. "This Hendrick Motorsports team wants to win every race and so do I, but I really wanted this one badly," stated Sprague, who was officially credited with 20th place in the final running order. "We're not used to falling out of races. I didn't even know about this 150th race stuff until a couple of weeks ago. I don't keep track of stuff like that. It really turned into something special. NASCAR, Craftsman, NetZero, Chevrolet were all very cool about it and they treated me like a king. I really enjoyed it all. I'm just sorry we couldn't have come out of here with a win to really make it even more special." The finish dropped Sprague from third to sixth in the points, an even 100 markers behind Riggs who rallied from his early race problems to score his first-ever NCTS victory. The effort also netted $8,515 in prize money. Next up for Sprague and his NetZero mates will be the Ram Tough 200 at Gateway International Raceway located near St. Louis, MO. The Sunday, May 6 event will mark a return to the 1.25-mile oval where Sprague scored one of the most dominating of his 19 career NCTS wins in last year's Ram Tough 200. "We pretty much wore them out last year," said Sprague, who led all but 15 circuits of last year's 160-lap race. "We really had their number. It sure would be great to go back there and do that again. It's about time we win a race and winning two in a row at St' Louis would make is just that much sweeter." This year's Ram Tough 200 at Gateway International Raceway will take the green flag at 4 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time May 6 and will be telecast live on ESPN. The fifth race of the 24-event 2001 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season will also be broadcast live worldwide on MRN Radio.

- John Close

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Ted Musgrave , Jack Sprague , Scott Riggs
Teams Hendrick Motorsports