Sprague 11th in Busch Series Finale
- Nov 19, 2002
- Team Hendrick
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Nov. 19, 2002)—Jack Sprague, who started 17th at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the final NASCAR Busch Series event of 2002 on Saturday, finished 11th at the 1.5-mile venue after battling handling problems with the No. 24 NetZero Chevrolet in what became a race where fuel mileage and pit strategy were key.
“We came to Homestead with the feeling we were going to have a good race car and we did,” Sprague said. “It`s tough when races come down to racing on fuel mileage because everything else seems to go out the window. Some teams can go longer than others and we weren`t looking to take any chances.
“We took four tires on that last stop when a lot of guys took only two. Even if we had topped off, we still would have had to come back in late in the race. We really just needed a caution and didn’t get it. Still, it was a good day for us. We needed to end the season on a good note and I think we did that.”
Sprague, a three-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion, finished the season fifth in Busch Series points with one victory, nine top-fives and 15 top-10 finishes.
“It’s pretty amazing how the year ended up,” Sprague said. “We led the points race for a long time, but struggled more than we ever imagined toward the end. The team fought back with everything they had, but so many little things kept us from gaining on the points and we fell back to fifth. Fifth is still a great effort considering it was our first year in the series, but you still wonder if things might have played out differently without a few of those little things.”
David Green, Sprague’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate, started 27th and finished a disappointing 42nd after Todd Bodine put the No. 5 GMAC Financial Services Chevy into the Homestead-Miami retaining wall. The former Busch Series champion was taken to the infield care center and released with no injuries.
“This is such a disappointing end to a great run with Team GMAC,” said Green, who took over for Ricky Hendrick in the No. 5 Chevy on Oct. 10. “Todd Bodine nearly wrecked me earlier in the race, but I was trying to race him clean. Obviously, not everyone uses the same approach on the track and a few laps later he just came down on me and hit my right-front tire and it sent me into the wall pretty hard. There wasn’t enough left of the rear end to try and fix it to get back on the track so we parked it.
“I hate it for these guys. They worked so hard and I wanted to give them a better finish today.”
In six races with Hendrick Motorsports, Green earned four top-10 finishes, including three top-fives. He’s finished outside the top 15 only once since joining Team GMAC.
Scott Wimmer won his fourth Busch Series race of 2002, followed by second-place Hank Parker Jr. and third-place Joe Nemechek.
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