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Sprague Stays in Championship Picture at Gateway

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (July 22, 2002)—Jack Sprague ended his four-week slump, picking up fourth place in the Charter Pipeline 250 NASCAR Busch Series event at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill., his first top-10 finish since winning at Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway on June 8.

The three-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion started from the 24th position after a disappointing qualifying effort that included a spin on the first of two laps, and worked his way to the lead by lap 80.

“The NetZero Chevy was extremely hard to handle at the start of the weekend,” said Sprague. “I couldn’t believe it when I spun on the first lap in qualifying, but I got it fired back up and made the second lap. I’m pretty surprised we ended with a top-five considering all the changes we made to the car.”

Sprague is currently third in the Busch Series driver standings, 165 points behind leader Greg Biffle.

Driving the No. 5 GMAC Chevrolet, Ricky Hendrick finished 24th at Gateway after a slippery qualifying run started him 33rd in the 43-car field.

“We had a very disappointing qualifying run,” said Hendrick. “The car a couple of spots ahead of us leaked oil all over the track. NASCAR did their best to clean it up, but no one realized it was really all over the track. I almost lost it coming out of turn four.

“We lost a tenth of a second from what we practiced, but we really expected to pick up some time. There is no pressure when you start from the back and some really good drivers were back there with me. Still, it’s always better to start up front.”

Hendrick is 26th in Busch Series points and third among drivers with 14 starts or fewer.

The NASCAR Busch Series visits Pikes Peak International Raceway in Fountain, Colo., for Saturday’s running of the NetZero 250. The event will be televised live on NBC (3:30 p.m. EDT) and broadcast on MRN Radio affiliates (3 p.m. EDT).

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