MILLINGTON, TN (October 20, 2002) - Jack Sprague drove his No. 24 NetZero Chevrolet to an 18th-place finish in Sunday's Sam's Town 250 NASCAR Busch Series event at Memphis Motorsports Park. "We just can't catch a break," said Sprague. "I'm...
MILLINGTON, TN (October 20, 2002) - Jack Sprague drove his No. 24 NetZero Chevrolet to an 18th-place finish in Sunday's Sam's Town 250 NASCAR Busch Series event at Memphis Motorsports Park.
"We just can't catch a break," said Sprague. "I'm pretty upset with today and how it ended up. I can't believe everything we went through. We were so close so many times to getting our lap back, but just couldn't do it. Every week the car is great in practice, but not so great at the start of the race. It's like it goes in the opposite direction at the start of the race, then we end up fighting our way back. We usually make changes that work and then the car gets faster, but then seem to get into some sort of mess and then there's not much that can be done except try to get a lap back or get through a bunch of cars. I can't figure it out."
Sprague started the postponed 250-Lap event from the13th starting spot after his NetZero machine posted a qualifying lap time of 23.384 seconds, 115.464 miles per hour. The lap wasn't what the NetZero team thought they'd pull of considering they felt they had a close to perfect car during practice.
"I thought we would have started better than 13th because ng how good the car was in practice, but it's still better than what we've been doing," said Sprague. "The car was a just a tick loose and I wasn't able to get on the gas."
That didn't matter much after the green flag waved. From the start, Sprague's race car was tight in the corners and loose off. He rode it out until he was able to receive major adjustments. The NetZero crew put on four fresh tires, went up three rounds in the track bar, pulled both rubbers out of the right rear and added fuel. The stop put Sprague in the 28th spot for the restart and his problem then was he was clogged in traffic, but he was fast when the caution flag waved again on Lap 71.
Sprague had been eighth on the board, but his day went down hill from there. The right front tire on the No. 24 car was going down and Sprague had to pit under green for right side tires. The two-tire stop caused Sprague to go two laps down, but with fresh tires, the veteran driver was able to gain one lap back in a short period of time.
All day long Sprague's NetZero Chevy was fast and he battled hard to get his other lap back, but was always a tick short and eventually fell back to far to have any chance at it. The final bullet point of Sprague's disappointing day was during a caution on Lap 230.
As he was making a hard run to the start/finish line in an attempt to get his lap back, Sprague began entering Turn 4 and came up on a car in the middle of the track. When he saw the car he made a quick move up the track and in the process, Sprague hit the No. 20 car of Coy Gibbs. Gibbs was fourth in the field at the time and obviously angry with Sprague. Gibbs retaliated causing damage to Sprague's No. 24 car causing him to pit one final time. He received left side tires and had the right rear fender cut off to finish the race.
"Today's race seemed like a chain of events that got worse and worse," said Sprague. "I hate what happened with Coy (Gibbs). Coy is a good driver and I've driven with him enough in the trucks that he should know I didn't mean to get up into him like that. I was getting into Turn 4 and there was a car there and if I didn't turn, I would have hit him. He was having a great run and taking someone out of contention isn't cool. Nothing about the race today seems to make sense to me. The was good, we were just a lap shy."
Next up for Sprague and the NetZero crew will be the Aaron's 312 NASCAR Busch Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The field will take the green flag on Saturday, October 26 at 1 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Race 31 of the 34 scheduled events will be telecast live on TNT. PRN Radio will also broadcast the race live on more than 300 affiliated stations worldwide.