Local News

Park, Sprague, Skinner Sent Scrambling After Wreck

Posted February 11, 2003 3:19 a.m. EST

— Winston Cup drivers Jack Sprague, Steve Park and Mike Skinner were sent scrambling for backup cars after a five-car crash during Tuesday's practice for the Daytona 500.

Two other drivers, Jeff Burton and Elliott Sadler, also were forced to backup cars in the wreck that happened with just four minutes left in practice.

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The backup cars must be ready to race by Thursday, when two 125-mile qualifying races will be held to determine the starting lineup for Sunday's Great American Race.

With the cars running in a big pack, the rookie Sprague, riding between Skinner and Park, suddenly banged off Park. He then slid down the banking into Skinner, who went sideways.

Sprague's crew said the nose of his car could be repaired and Park's had only a little sheet metal damage on the left rear quarterpanel, near the tire.

"I don't know what happened," Sprague said. "I was in the middle. Park was on the outside, and he didn't stay up, and he hit me in the right front, drove me into Skinner, and it was all over."

Park said he couldn't see the accident unfold because it happened behind him.

"Everybody kind of slowed down because somebody put oil down in one and two," Park said, "and that got pretty bad. Everybody started checking up to avoid the oil, and I guess Jack Sprague got into the '4' car (of Skinner), and he bounced off of me.

"I was up by the wall and couldn't go any higher except for the grandstands. When I felt him rubbing on me, it was like there was no place to go because the wall was right there.

"Fortunately," Park said, "our car was able to get through it pretty unscathed - just a little wheel mark on the side of it and a little bumper tag in the back. So we got lucky."

Skinner credited to the accident to a rookie mistake.

"To the best of my knowledge, we got run into by a rookie," Skinner said. "The right rear corner on our car is crunched a lot. Whether he got pushed down there or not, I don't know.

"That's going to happen. I've caused it before, and I've been a victim of it before. It's just unfortunate that it has to happen right there at the end of a practice."