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Sprague Gains Ground with 15th at Michigan

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (August 21, 2002)—Jack Sprague drove his NetZero Chevrolet Monte Carlo to a 15th-place finish in the Cabela’s 250 at Michigan International Speedway on Saturday, and in the process closed the gap in the 2002 NASCAR Busch Series points battle.

“I’m happy with today’s results,” said Sprague. “We brought a brand new car here. It went to the wind tunnel on the way to the track and we thought we’d have a really good car. We never expected it to practice and qualify as terrible as it did.

“I was doing a lot of praying (Saturday) morning because I didn`t think we had a prayer to salvage a decent finish, but we definitely pulled it off.”

Sprague started deep in the 43-car field after qualifying his No. 24 NetZero Chevy 31st in Friday`s time trial session at the Brooklyn, Mich., track. A short green-flag run opened the event Saturday before a caution flag on lap 12 allowed Sprague to head to pit road where his NetZero crew added four rounds of wedge to the chassis in an effort to get the Hendrick Motorsports entry handling properly.

More chassis adjustments and fresh tires on another caution flag, this one on lap 25, significantly helped Sprague`s car, which suffered from a lack of track time after wet weather scuttled Friday`s “Happy Hour” session.

“I really think not having any Happy Hour practice hurt us,” said Sprague. “I guess it hurt everyone out their today, but we needed it bad.

“The NetZero Chevy ended up being tight in the center of the corner and a bit loose off during the race, but it wasn`t miserable to drive.”

Still deep in the field after the early pit stops, Sprague used the remaining laps to work his way through the field to the solid 15th-place finish. Combined with engine failures by his chief championship rivals, Greg Biffle and Jason Keller, Sprague was able to close to within 206 points of the lead in the Busch Series championship chase.

“Today ended up being a good day for the NetZero team,” said Sprague, who earned $18,550 in prize money for the Michigan effort. “A little more time and I think we would have had something for a few of those guys in front. We weren`t fighting to stay on the lead lap this time, but fighting time and that`s always better.”

Next up for Sprague and the NetZero Chevy will be the Food City 250 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway on Friday, August 23 at 8 p.m. EDT. The event will be broadcast live on TNT and PRN Radio.

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