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Team NetZero Ready for PPIR

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (July 23, 2002)—The first half of Jack Sprague’s NASCAR Busch Series season proved to be smooth sailing as he drove his No. 24 NetZero Chevrolet Monte Carlo to the top of the division’s point standings.

The ride had gotten a bit choppy in recent weeks as a pair of sub-par finishes dropped the Hendrick Motorsports driver to third in the 2002 championship chase, but a stellar performance last weekend in St. Louis may have Sprague and his NetZero team back on track.

According to the veteran driver, there’s nothing he’d like better than to right the ship in this weekend’s NetZero 250 at Pikes Peak International Raceway.

“We never imagined to come out of the box like we did and lead the points and win a race,” said Sprague, who returned to the Busch Series this season after winning three NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championships. “Sure, it’s a great feeling to lead the points for so long, but we still have a shot to come back and make a run for it and I wouldn’t count us out yet.

“What’s hard to stomach is the way we lost the lead. The late-race wreck at Daytona and then the engine failure just a couple laps into the race at Chicago a few weeks ago just killed us. I try not to think about it too much. Besides, this team was in the same situation in the truck series last year and fought back to sit at the front table at the banquet.”

Sprague’s Rocky Mountain return is one that he and his NetZero teammates are looking forward to. There will be an added incentive to do well, considering that his sponsor—NetZero—will also be the title sponsor of the race.

Another motivating factor will be that the event’s Grand Marshal—comedian Jeff Foxworthy—will be a guest of NetZero and Sprague’s No. 24 team throughout the weekend.

Although no one on the team would ever admit they are a redneck, all are looking forward to meeting Foxworthy.

“NetZero has put a lot of time and advertising money into this race to make a good show out of it,” said Sprague. “I hope I do my part and give them a great performance in return.

“NetZero has done so much for us the last two years. I’m glad they made the jump with us to the Busch Series. There’s going to be a lot of people in the grandstands rooting us on and we’re going to do all we can to give them something to cheer about.”

In the past, Sprague has provided plenty of golden moments at the Fountain, Colo., track. In four truck series starts, Sprague has finished in the top five three times, including a third-place run a year ago.

In his four NCTS starts, Sprague also has a sixth-place qualifying average at PPIR, but has never made the turn into victory lane, something he hopes to rectify in the NetZero 250 this weekend.

“I led most of last year’s race, but had a loose lug nut and had to come back in to tighten it up,” said Sprague. “I was basically racing to get my lap back, which I finally did, but unfortunately, there wasn’t any time left and I had to settle for third.

“I think we’re prepared for Pikes Peak because of our past success here in the truck series. The thing with Pikes Peak is the altitude is so high that you and the motor in the car feel like they need more air, so to speak. It’s a different feeling because you’re telling your crew chief that the motor feels like it’s laying down, but it really not. You need to really hit the jetting right or you could have a tough day.

“I think the NetZero car will have a pretty decent chassis setup to work with and we plan on being tough to beat come race day.”

Sprague enters the Pikes Peak race coming off his 12th top-10 finish of the season in the most recent Busch Series event at Gateway International Raceway. He remains third in the 2002 championship standings heading into the 250-lap PPIR event.

The NetZero 250 NASCAR Busch Series event will be broadcast live from Pikes Peak International Raceway on Saturday, July 27 on NBC (3:30 p.m. EDT) and MRN Radio affiliates (3 p.m. EDT).

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