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Team NetZero Frustrated with IRP Result

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Aug. 6, 2002)—The last time Jack Sprague competed at Indianapolis Raceway Park, the veteran took a trip to victory lane in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

With that kind of winning experience on his résumé, it’s understandable that the driver of the No. 24 NetZero Chevrolet was disappointed with a 17th-place finish in the Kroger 200 NASCAR Busch Series event at the track on Saturday night.

“I am sick of these bad finishes lately,” said a frustrated Sprague, who owns two wins and a pair of runner-up truck series finishes at IRP. “Tonight’s finish totally blind-sided us. We’ve done so well here in the past that we really believed we were going to have a car that could win.

“Thank goodness for our fourth-place finish at Gateway a few weeks back because that’s the only decent finish we’ve had for quite a while. I don’t even know what to say because I know I’m not the only one upset by it.

“We really believed we were going to have a shot at this race,” he continued. “The car was great in practice, but qualified and raced horribly. It was tight all night and nothing seemed to play into our hands.”

Sprague’s day was action-packed as he practiced before catching a short flight to Indianapolis Motor Speedway to compete in the final IROC Series race of the season. After finishing sixth and earning his fourth top-10 finish in as many events this season, Sprague was transported back to IRP for Busch Series qualifying.

That’s where things started to go downhill as the Spring Lake, Mich., native turned in a speed of 107.815 mph, putting him 14th on the grid for Saturday’s race.

Sprague battled an ill-handling car from the start of the 200-lap event on Sunday. On three separate occasions, he guided his NetZero Chevy into the pits, where his Hendrick Motorsports team made wholesale chassis adjustments in an effort to fix the problem.

Unfortunately, the changes never fully corrected the poor handling and Sprague found himself fighting to stay on the lead lap with just 50 circuits remaining. He eventually fell a lap down, finishing 17th and earning $14,030 in prize money.

The three-time truck series champion has earned 2,927 points this season, 287 behind leader Greg Biffle in the Busch Series championship chase.

“I’ve always loved racing at IRP and still do,” said Sprague. “It’s just been so frustrating these last few weeks. We’ve got a weekend off next week. Maybe that will help.

“My guys have been working so hard with these cars and with our building and testing of the Winston Cup cars—they’ve been putting in a lot of time. Maybe this break will be a positive for this team and (we can) go to Michigan rejuvenated and get back on the right foot.”

Sprague and the No. 24 NetZero Chevy will be back in action in the Cabela’s 250 at Michigan International Speedway on Saturday, August 17. The event will be broadcast live on TNT and MRN Radio.

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