Sprague wants to start his own rally in battle for NASCAR Busch Series. DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 14, 2002) - Consistency carried Jack Sprague through the first half of the NASCAR Busch Series season. Something more will be required during the...
Sprague wants to start his own rally in battle for NASCAR Busch Series.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 14, 2002) - Consistency carried Jack Sprague through the first half of the NASCAR Busch Series season. Something more will be required during the second half, if Sprague is to produce a series championship.
The man needs victories, and what better time to start filling that need than this weekend? Sprague, a native of Spring Lake, Mich., is the"hometown favorite," racing at Michigan International Speedway, site of Saturday's Cabela's 250.
"It's been a few years since I raced at Michigan, so I'm looking forward to it, for a few different reasons," said Sprague, driver of the No. 24 NetZero Chevrolet. "My wife and I have a house in Spring Lake and we try to get up there as much as possible, but we really only get to spend a good amount of time there during the winter. My brother, Jason, and I are both looking forward to heading back north. We've got a lot of family and friends up that way and it will be good for us to get a chance to see them even if it won't be for that long because of our busy schedule at the track.
"I'd like to have a good run at Michigan this weekend because let's face it - the last month has been pretty hard."
While Sprague has struggled in recent weeks, series rival Greg Biffle (No. 60 Grainger Ford) has excelled. Biffle has won three of the last six races, grabbing the points lead from Sprague in the process. During the last six races, coinciding with Biffle's surge, Sprague has managed merely one top-10 finish.
Sprague has three previous starts at MIS. He finished fourth (1999) and 13th (2000) in two NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series events at the 2-mile track; he has one previous NASCAR Busch start at MIS, finishing ninth in the 1993 Gasket 300.
"We always had good chassis setups [in the past], but I don't really know if we can use any of the old notes from the truck series," said Sprague, who won three NASCAR Craftsman Truck championships before coming to the NASCAR Busch Series this season.
"At least I know the track a bit and that might help."
Sprague has one victory this season - June 8 at Nashville Superspeedway. But he also has 12 top-10 finishes. Consistency during the first half of the season enabled him to keep the points lead without winning races. But not winning also prevented him from padding his lead. Thus, he was susceptible to a rally, which Biffle - his old NASCAR Craftsman Truck rival - has mounted.
"We're still third in the points, but can't win a championship with the finishes we've been having," Sprague said.
"Going into the season, leading the points wasn't really the goal because we were unsure what to really expect. We figured the team would be just as strong as we were [in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series], just [that there would be] more races. Of course we knew we had good equipment, just like we did in the truck series, but we didn't have notes to go on and that's what we were concerned about then and making races.
"When we were fighting for the points lead each week it was fun and challenging, but since Daytona things haven't been going too well. These last few races, we're just riding around and it's not something I enjoy doing. We've been able to dig ourselves out from bad times in the past and I just hope we are close to doing that soon."
ON THE RIGHT TRACK:
Todd Bodine (No. 92 Excedrin Chevrolet) has won two NASCAR Busch Series races at MIS, tied for the all-time lead with Mark Martin.
Mike McLaughlin (No. 18 MBNA Pontiac) has three top-five NASCAR Busch finishes at MIS, finishing fifth the last two years and fourth in 1994.
NEWS OF NOTE
Back on track... Driver-turned-commentator Wally Dallenbach is reversing his field, starting with the Cabela's 250, the first of a three-race NASCAR Busch Series deal in which Dallenbach will drive a Pepsi-sponsored Dodge for Tommy Baldwin Racing. Dallenbach also is slated to drive Oct. 12 at Lowe's Motor Speedway and Nov. 9 at Phoenix International Raceway. Dallenbach will have conversations with crew chief Baldwin - and communication to his TNT broadcast-booth cohorts Allen Bestwick and Benny Parsons - heard during caution periods when possible. Dallenbach's Dodge also will have an in-car camera.
TV timeout... The NASCAR Busch Series race held Aug. 3 at Indianapolis Raceway Park - the Kroger 200 - was watched on TNT by 2,013,000 viewers, a 5% increase from 2001. (Figures provided by Nielsen Media Research.)
Double-duty makes for tough field(s)... With the Cabela's 250 being a companion event to Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series race (Pepsi 400 Presented by Farmer Jack), a total of 10 drivers are entered in both events, according to entry lists from late Tuesday.
Jimmy Spencer (No. 1 Yellow Chevrolet), Jeff Burton (No. 9 Gain/Febreze/Swiffer Ford), Jeff Green (No. 21 Rockwell Automation Chevrolet), Joe Nemechek (No. 87 Cellular One Chevrolet) and Michael Waltrip (No. 99 Aaron's Sales and Lease Chevrolet) are NASCAR Winston Cup regulars entered in the Cabela's 250.
In the other direction, NASCAR Busch Series points leader Greg Biffle will attempt to qualify for the Pepsi 400 Presented by Farmer Jack, in the No. 16 TNT/Roush Racing Ford. Other NASCAR Busch regulars attempting to make the big show: Todd Bodine (who has a regular ride for the balance of the NASCAR Winston Cup season, in the No. 26 Discover Card Ford), Tony Raines and Stacy Compton.
And don't forget a driver hard to categorize as a" regular" in either series, Mike Wallace. He's slated to drive the No. 4 Biagi Bros. Chevrolet on Saturday, then run the No. 14 Conseco Pontiac on Sunday.
Etc.... Clarence Brewer Jr., owner of Brewco Motorsports, Inc., has announced a fundraising program for the family of Andy Kirby. Kirby, who drove several NASCAR Busch Series races for Brewco Motorsports, was killed in a motorcycle accident in White House, Tenn. on July 18. Brewer said he will donate $10 for every lap completed by his two race teams - the No. 27 Williams TravelCenters Chevrolet driven by Jamie McMurray and the No. 37 Timber Wolf Chevrolet driven by Kevin Lepage, in the Food City 250 at Bristol Motor Speedway on Aug. 23. The money will be sent to the Andy Kirby Children's Fund, Cumberland Bank, 2916 Highway 31 West, White House, Tenn. 37188. Kirby was survived by his wife and three sons ages 17, 13 and 10. Brewer has asked other NASCAR teams to join in the fundraising effort.... Ricky Hendrick, driver of the No. 5 GMAC Financial Services Chevrolet, wants to capitalize on an opportunity presented by this week's schedule. His sponsors will be watching more than ever; Michigan International Speedway is located just outside of Detroit, which is the home of General Motors and the GMAC corporate offices. This will be Hendrick's first MIS race.... Scott Riggs (No. 10 Nestle Nesquik Ford) continues to dominate the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings. He leads Johnny Sauter (No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet) by 54 points. Riggs also is fourth in the overall series standings.
WHAT'S THE WORD?
"I like flat tracks and I like fast tracks, so I really like Michigan." - Hank Parker Jr. (No. 36 GNC Live Well Dodge).
FROM THE ARCHIVES
Since the NASCAR Busch Series' inception in 1982, Todd Bodine and Mark Martin have won a series-leading two races each at Michigan International Speedway. Bodine won the first NASCAR Busch Series event at MIS in 1992; eight years later he won his second.