FONTANA, CA (April 28, 2002) - Jack Sprague didn't win Saturday's Auto Club 300 NASCAR Busch Series race at California Speedway, but fuel conservation and a fast NetZero Chevrolet did produce a solid fourth-place finish and keep the three-time ...
FONTANA, CA (April 28, 2002) - Jack Sprague didn't win Saturday's Auto Club 300 NASCAR Busch Series race at California Speedway, but fuel conservation and a fast NetZero Chevrolet did produce a solid fourth-place finish and keep the three-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion a top the division points lead.
"We were two-tenths of a gallon away from running out of gas at the end of the race, so a fourth-place finish doesn't look so bad," said Sprague, who scored his seventh Top-10 finish in 1o Busch Series events this season. "We led a lot of laps and were right up there all day. I guess it's just not our time to win yet, but it's coming. We're going to win soon."
Sprague's red, black and silver NetZero Monte Carlo started from the top spot based on points when qualifying was cancelled Friday due to rain. It's the first time Sprague started from the pole at the California2-mile tri-oval.
"I certainly didn't mind qualifying getting rained out because we started the race in a better position than where I thought I would qualify," said Sprague. "Starting first was a good eight or nine spots better than where I think I would have ended up for the race, so it worked out in our favor."
Sprague led the first lap and continued doing so until the 16th circuit when he dropped into the third position, letting Greg Biffle and Jeff Green lead the way through lap traffic.
Sprague's only real challenge throughout the day was giving his Hendrick Motorsports mount enough throttle to race while trying to be easy on the gas pedal to save fuel for the end. Thanks to solid numbers crunching by his NetZero crew, Sprague knew exactly how much gas he needed to make it to the finish feathering the pedal during the final laps of the race.
"We made little adjustments all day and the car would go one way, and then back again, said Sprague. "We never quite seemed to get it totally right, but it didn't really matter because it was handling good. I love racing at California and glad we had a good run and didn't run out of gas at the end. That wouldn't have been pretty. We're getting it as the weeks go on. We'll just keep digging and sooner or later, we'll get us a win. We go to Richmond next week, another track I love, and so who knows. Maybe we'll get lucky there."
Sprague earned $39,825 for his fourth-place finish and opened up his lead in the NBS season championship standings by a 32-point margin over runner-up Jason Keller.
Next up for Sprague and the NetZero Chevy will be the Hardee's 250 NASCAR Busch Series race at Richmond International Raceway. The event will take the green flag Friday, May 3, at 7:40 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The ninth of 34 NASCAR Busch Series races this season will be telecast live on FX. MRN Radio will also broadcast the race live.