Sprague Las Vegas race report

LAS VEGAS, NV (October 14, 2001) - After leading 104 of the 146 laps in The Orleans 350, you can't blame Jack Sprague for being disappointed with a second-place finish. "It's really disgusting to sit here and know we didn't win this ...

LAS VEGAS, NV (October 14, 2001) - After leading 104 of the 146 laps in The Orleans 350, you can't blame Jack Sprague for being disappointed with a second-place finish. "It's really disgusting to sit here and know we didn't win this race," said Sprague, after steering his No. 24 NetZero Chevrolet to a runner-up effort in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. "We definitely had their butts kicked all day. You got to take a different frame of mind when you're in a championship battle. That's the situation we're in. We're looking at the big picture. We gained points on the 18 (Joe Ruttman) and the 2 (Scott Riggs). We did what we had to do, but we're still a little bit disappointed because we killed them all day and we didn't win the race." Sprague entered the 22nd of 24 NCTS events this season with a 64-point margin over Ruttman and an 88-point advantage over Riggs in the season championship chase. The second-place performance allowed the Spring Lake, MI driver to increase that advantage to 97-points over Ruttman and 108-points in front of Riggs. Sprague got the weekend off to a roaring start capturing his seventh pole position of the season touring the 1.5-mile Las Vegas oval in a time of 33.374 seconds (161.803 miles per hour). It marked the third time in five Craftsman Truck Series events at Las Vegas that Sprague came away with the top qualifying spot. The other two LVMS poles were recorded in 1996 and 1998. At the drop of the green, Sprague quickly jumped to the point leading all but three of the first 55 circuits. A 16.8-second, four-tires and fuel stop put Sprague back in the field for a short time before he reassumed the point at Lap 76. Sprague was pacing the field when the fourth caution of the day flew on Lap 122. While Sprague and crew chief Dennis Connor made the decision not to pit, several top competitors, including Ted Musgrave, pitted for fresh tires. Back under green, Sprague sailed off into the first turn only to see his NetZero mount slide up the track. Musgrave quickly took advantage of the situation motoring into the top spot and holding off Sprague for the win over the final 16 circuits. "We should have gotten left-side tires on that last caution," said Sprague. "The rest of the leaders did and I wound up with 75 laps on the left-side tires. The truck just got too tight and wouldn't turn in the center of the corner. That's one of those calls that you have to make when you are leading. If we pit, we're back in 10th-place. If it was the beginning of the year and you're trying to win the race, you pit in that situation and get tires. Bottom line is I'm trying to win this championship and so is this NetZero team." Sprague's runner-up effort earned $28,150 in prize money and kept his remarkable run to top Las Vegas finishes intact. In five NCTS Vegas races, Sprague has won two events and finished second in the other three. Sprague hopes to keep that hot streak alive when he and the NetZero Chevrolet take the green flag in the Chevy Silverado 150 at Phoenix International Raceway. Sprague has scored three wins (two in 1996 and one in 1997) and four pole positions (1995, 1996, 1997 and 1999) at the one-mile Phoenix oval. The Friday, October 26 event will take the green flag at 7 p.m. Eastern Time and will be telecast live on ESPN. The event will also be broadcast as it happens on MRN Radio.

-HM-

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Ted Musgrave , Jack Sprague , Scott Riggs , Joe Ruttman