JOLIET, IL (July 13, 2002) - Jack Sprague was quick to jump from his IROC Series Pontiac into his No. 24 NetZero Chevrolet for the start of Saturday's Tropicana Twister 300 NASCAR Busch Series race at Chicagoland Speedway. The quick-change didn't...
JOLIET, IL (July 13, 2002) - Jack Sprague was quick to jump from his IROC Series Pontiac into his No. 24 NetZero Chevrolet for the start of Saturday's Tropicana Twister 300 NASCAR Busch Series race at Chicagoland Speedway. The quick-change didn't make a bit of difference to Sprague, however, when an engine failure in his No. 24 NetZero Chevy saddled him with a disappointing 42nd-place finish.
"I don't know what to say about today," said Sprague who finished 10th earlier in the day in the third IROC Series race of the season. "The car was never really good for us all weekend. It felt like it wanted to dart up the track in the corners. The guys changed almost everything on the car before qualifying and we finally ended up with a decent car by time Happy Hour was over yesterday. We knew would be okay for the race. Never in our dreams would we have thought we'd have an engine problem. We're all pretty bummed out about it."
From the start of the weekend, Sprague's NetZero Chevy had a mind of it's own leaving the veteran driver and his crew chief, Dennis Connor, scratching their heads on what was wrong. Sprague did all he could to get the car smoothly through in the corners, but it never felt right. Despite several pre-qualifying changes, the Spring Lake, MI native continued to struggle posting the 26th quickest time of the session (30.703 seconds.)
"I don't know what the problem was with the NetZero Chevy during practice and qualifying," said Sprague. "It was down right evil out there. I couldn't drive it. The car kept trying to dart off the track. When I say we changed everything - I mean it. We changed everything except the paint and the decals and it still qualified terrible."
Sprague's red, black and silver NetZero Monte Carlo appeared to be cured at the drop of the green flag Saturday as he picked up several positions before the caution flag waved on Lap 9. Sprague radioed to his crew that the car was much better than the day before and he'd be okay, but when the race resumed on Lap 13, Sprague told the crew his engine had lost a cylinder and was blowing up. Sprague pulled the NetZero Chevy into the garage area where it was determined that the damage was terminal and that he was done for the day.
"The car was pretty good from the few laps I ran," said Sprague, who despite the finish maintained the third position in the points chase, 150 markers behind leader Greg Biffle. "If anything, the NetZero Chevy was a little tight in the middle of the corner, but I figured that was because I was running behind someone. I knew if I got out in clean air it would be better, but it doesn't matter now that we lost the motor. "
Sprague and the NetZero Chevy will try to make amends in the next race on the 2002 NBS tour - the Charter Pipeline 250 at Gateway International Speedway. The event will take the green flag Saturday, July 20 at 8 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The event will be telecast live on TNT. MRN Radio will also broadcast the race live worldwide on more than 400 stations including the American Armed Forces Network.